Getting to the bottom of Mario Manningham’s statement on Cleveland as a “miserable” destination for NFL free agents

by Cleveland Frowns on March 15, 2012

Free-agent wide receiver and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham, a native of Warren, got some attention earlier this week for speaking negatively about Cleveland as a destination for NFL free agents in an interview with Chuck Yarborough and Branson Wright of Cleveland.com.

When Wright asked Manningham if he was considering Cleveland as a potential destination, the receiver bluntly replied, “No, not really,” before elaborating as follows (transcript via WFNY):

Branson Wright “Have you put any thoughts into the Browns at all?”

Manningham “No, not really.”

(Silence… laughter from Yarborough and Wright)

Chuck Yarborough – “We’ve heard rumors that the Browns are not looked at by players around the league as a really good place to go. Is that a true perception or would players really come here?”

Manningham “A lot of players wouldn’t. Like, I’m not trying to put the organization down. But a lot of players, that wouldn’t be their top choices.  Because everybody says how cold it is in Cleveland. And [their] team [inaudible], so it’s a miserable combination.”

Yarborough “Does the unsettled nature of the quarterback position have anything to do with that?”

Manningham “Uh, yeah. Yeah.”

(Silence)

Wright “Mario, what’s important to you in finding that perfect team for you?”

Manningham “Quarterback. You know, and just knowing what’s going on.”

Yarborough “How hard would it be to leave a quarterback winning QB like Eli Manning?”

Manningham “It’d be hard, but there are a lot of other good quarterbacks also.”

This was shortly followed in the news by a statement by recently re-signed Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey that he didn’t even consider coming to Cleveland, despite that he knew the Browns had targeted him in free agency. Per ESPN’s news service:

The Bears and the Cleveland Browns wanted him.

Mincey really only considered Chicago.

“It was a good fit,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play beside Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher? They’re a first-class organization. They do things right. They got a lot of good pieces to make it happen.”

One hears a lot of this sort of thing at nearly every free agency cycle, so it’s worth a deeper look at the fundamental irrelevance of statements like this about Cleveland and the Browns.

First, of course, it should be acknowledged that Manningham and Mincey are getting at something true and important when they refer to the ineptitude of an organization that has been the league’s biggest embarrassment for more than a decade, and still amazingly has no better option than Colt McCoy on the horizon at the game’s most important position. But this is something that should theoretically be fixable with consistent competent management.

What’s much more troubling is the idea that the Browns face an uphill battle not because of factors within management’s control, but instead due to the intrinsic qualities of the City of Cleveland.

The first response to this is that anybody who wouldn’t come to Cleveland because of the weather is exactly the opposite of the kind of person the Browns should want to play for them, so Browns fans should probably be thankful that Manningham, among whomever else, so effectively self-selects here. More generally, we know that only folks on the rightward slope of the bell curves that measure realness, imperviousness, irrepressiblity, etc. will be able to fully appreciate a place like Cleveland, so to say we’re not talking about the majority here is an understatement.

But what some see as a weakness here is much better viewed as a strength. Of course it’s harder to find the kind of person who’s cut out to thrive in Cleveland, just like it’s harder to find geniuses than the average. But once you’ve found enough of these folks, the force you’ve assembled will be exponentially more formidable.

Which is why it’s so unfortunate and maddening that not only is the Browns franchise owned by a person in Randy Lerner who so plainly doesn’t even like to be in Cleveland himself, it’s also managed by one in Mike Holmgren who doesn’t want to be here either, and can barely conceal his disdain for the place. It’s naturally hard enough to assemble enough of the select few who are fit to be Cleveland Browns, but how isn’t it impossible for an organization headed by two guys who themselves lack such an important fundamental characteristic?

Which of course also gets to how unfortunate and maddening it is that Lerner let Holmgren run off a head coach in Eric Mangini who not only was plainly the first decent head coach this franchise had seen in a decade, but also, and surely not coincidentally, is a person who actually likes being here, and still makes his home here, despite being a Connecticut native. And not only that, but also that Mangini was a head coach whose core philosophy essentially guaranteed that only the right kind of person would end up a Cleveland Brown (“those to whom football is important” is us in all the ways that are good, not to mention the rest), and bravely and consistently made far-sighted moves in furtherance of that philosophy.

When some poor muggle like Manningham goes flapping about Cleveland like earlier this week, all we can do is think of all this and shrug.

  • Jim

    Apparently Manningham never came home for the winter as the past few months have been anything but dreary, especially when compared to season’s past.

    The best thing about global warming is that soon enough it’ll feel like Miami around these parts and, coupled with our easy beach front access, it’s no stretch to think that super, duperstars of all kinds will be bringing their talents to the north coast.

    • Humboldt

      We also have a massive freshwater lake that will be the envy of the flooded coasts and their elite populations

      • Anonymous

        not to mention the water-starved southwest.

    • http://brian23.com Brian

      they can hang out at that airplane station it will be great lol

      • Anonymous

        Will the super airplane be docking there, too?

  • kjn

    Something else the organization has failed to do that hurts us? Cultivate relationships with ex-players that are still in the area.

    Not that it was the deciding factor over the $100M, but- “Williams admitted he was tired but said he liked the area’s “college atmosphere” and appreciated being recruited by former Bills QB Jim Kelly.”

    • Anonymous

      yeah cuz Bernie doesn’t really have much to do with the team and area at all…

      • kjn

        I was operating under the belief that Bernie was still on the outs with the organization. He, along with some other alums, have had a pretty up and down relationship with the team.

        If that’s not the case then I retract my statement.

        • Anonymous

          Bernie was working for the team in some capacity at the combine. I think Jim Brown is the only guy who seems to have been rubbed the wrong way by Holmgren & Co.

          • Anonymous

            he’s still working with the team, in fact he writes a blog on the team website. but since he’s now employed by the Brownies, his opinion is worthless and he’s just a puppet for Holmgren and Lerner…

          • acto

            “he’s still working with the team, in fact he writes a blog on the team website.”

            Biki, Come on man….
            What could be less important than a silly blog?
            Blogs are always just an inane way for people with too much time on their hands to have their silly Mangendas ignored.

          • Anonymous

            Needs to be an emoticon for firing two six shooters into the air, yelling yee-haw, blowing the barrel-smoke from the right and then the left in quick succession.

          • Anonymous

            im sure a yosemite sam gif would suffice as well.

    • Anonymous

      remember what happened with jim brown :/

  • Humboldt

    lol. “some poor muggle like Manningham”.

    Just for future reference, I think it may actually be more damning to call someone a “mudblood”. I invite my fellow nerds to debate the point.

    • Anonymous

      Mudblood sounds racist.

      • Humboldt

        That’s the point, see ;)

  • Anonymous

    Some interesting tidbits from Nate Ulrich of the ABJ here:

    http://www.ohio.com/blogs/cleveland-browns/cleveland-browns-1.270107/president-mike-holmgren-browns-proposal-in-rg3-sweepstakes-every-bit-the-offer-that-was-chosen-1.274546

    This quote from Holmgren re: the RG3 trade stood out to me:

    “I’m not sure if any offer we made at the end of the day was gonna be quite good enough.”

    It seems like most of us should have realized this and not been so surprised or upset when the trade didn’t work out. From the way things are shaping up, I expect each of the first three picks to be offensive players.

    • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

      “I’m not sure if any offer we made at the end of the day was gonna be quite good enough.”

      Pretty sure you, Biki and I have been championing this point all week. Not to pat myself (or anyone else) on the back or anything, though.

      • Anonymous

        I dunno, he sounds full of shit to me. “Not going to tell you what we offered, or when we offered it, or how we offered…” followed by “here’s what we offered, but I can’t tell you why it wasn’t accepted.” “It was accepted because they were good friends. I can’t tell you more than that. ”

        Huh? Dude’s saying two different things at the same time, while hinting at mysterious happenings that he is unwilling to explain. It’s bizarre and annoying.

        Not saying you’re not wrong that we were never truly in it for RGIII with Snyder in play, but what in God’s green earth is Holmgren trying to say here?

        • Anonymous

          “ASK PAT.”

          • Anonymous

            Exactly. Pat should know better than anyone that friends do friends (or friend’s nephews) favors in the NFL.

    • kjn

      If that means the Skins would have out bid us, does it also mean that the whole “silent auction” storyline was BS?

      I realize why teams keep the public in the dark, but as a fan it’s frustrating.

  • FoolMeOnce

    The solution to this problem is very clearly global warming. Given the recent weather patterns coupled with our assortment of high draft picks, I think we’re right on track.

  • Anonymous

    Vic Carucci’s writeup on the Rucker signing is a riot. “Makes perfect sense.” “Just what the Browns needed.” LOLOLOL http://t.co/Z4teG58q

    • Anonymous
      • Anonymous

        He seems to fit, theoretically. I’d just point out that the Bengals became really easy to throw on once Leon Hall went down, so stats against the run there might be skewed.

    • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

      If you can’t trust someone paid by the Browns to be completely honest, forthcoming and direct when writing about the Browns, who can you trust?

      My favorite was where he brings up how the defense was the lynchpin of a 4 win team.

      • Anonymous

        The worst 4-win team in NFL history.

      • Anonymous

        yah, our defense is so overrated, it blows my mind. It’s nothing to be proud of.

        • Anonymous

          goal line stands made, or should i say, saved me a lot of money.. and for all the excuses of teams taking it easy on us because our offense was weak, strictly as a defense (not counting pick 6, or the 2 STTD’s), we only allowed a very respectable 17.5 ppg, not too shabby, def something to build on when 4 of the guys were 2nd year or rookies.. adding some depth like we did today certainly shouldn’t hurt.. of course Claiborne would really be someone special to add as well..

          • Anonymous

            I’m glad they saved you money. Did not win us a lot of games.

            And what you call an excuse, I call a valid explanation. Once teams got ahead of us, they could run the ball, control the clock and play conservative. Thus our inflated pass defense statistics, our crappy run statistics and low points per game.

            Our young D is the bright spot of our team, but as Chris M points out, it’s a 4-win team. We can’t fool ourselves into thinking our defense is a world-beater.

          • Anonymous

            i really don’t see what’s not to be optimistic about a very young defense who showed their toughness and fight even in games where we could’ve easily laid down like many other teams in the NFL who let “teams get ahead”. especially if you add a guy like claiborne to the mix and additional depth like we did today. OLB obviously is a concern as well, but we have some talented guys on the defense. if only the offense could get some more first downs and/or put up some more points it could take some pressure of the defense.

            that being said, 17.5 points allowed is what it is. plenty of other defenses in the league got blown out by plenty more even if the opposing offense went into “conservative mode”. i never called tem “world-beaters” but they certainly seem to have a toughness to them that hopefully will carry on to the next season.

          • Anonymous

            Shut up, Biki. Seriously.

          • Anonymous

            whatever dude, you’re right, we suck, you’re smart, i’m stupid. carry on

          • Anonymous

            THANK YOU.

          • Anonymous

            but if Mangini was the coach i’m sure you would have such a cogent argument in his defense. DERP

          • Anonymous

            No such argument would be necessary in such a case, of course. Why are you talking I thought you said you were going to #shutup.

            #shutupbiki

          • Anonymous

            Also, SHUT UP, BIKI. #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutup #shutupbiki #silence

    • Anonymous

      yeah i suppose old Vic should’ve bashed the move, or included the bit about Leon Hall just to give a fair and balanced view.. and while i’m not certain how profootballfocus does their ratings, but i don’t believe it’s based on overall team statistics against the run, but specifically when runs are called to the players side of field and their ratio of tackles to missed tackles, etc. , which is obviously good news if Frostee ranked 13th out of the 100 or so DE’s in the league. so yeah, for as bad as we were against the run, makes sense to bring a guy like him on board. luckily he signed with us since Cleve is such a terrible place to play and all..

      • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

        The point is that Vic will never be objective, because he’s being paid by the people he writes about, and presumably could would be fired for publishing a dissenting piece. If the Browns could have a writer who doesn’t work for them canned, how hard do you think it would be for them to dump Carucci?

        • Anonymous

          i really don’t get how this is specific to the Browns, every team has an in-house blogger, etc. i think anyone with a brain gets exactly what you’re saying and looks to various sources for content. including Bernie’s Blog on the site. which i suppose since he’s employed by the Browns means he won’t write any dissenting pieces either, but you’ll still read his posts won’t you??

          • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

            No.

          • Anonymous

            well in that case i guess they should just buck the system and be the only team in the NFL to not have in-house bloggers…

          • Anonymous

            That would at least be one bold move that a Browns fan could hang his hat on.

          • acto

            Frownie,
            I was expecting a wonderfully snarky remark for my far less than brilliant dig at you and the rest of us, but you are not playing along.
            Did I miss the memo?

        • Anonymous

          >>>…If the Browns could have a writer who doesn’t work for them canned….>>>

          I still don’t see how people can pursue this line. There is NO WAY the Browns called up and got Grossi fired. Any paper in that position would move him, and they’d do it because odds are he’s not going to be able to do his job anymore. Not that he ever did.

          Think like an editor. You’ve got two resumes for beat writer on your desk. One has a lot of league experience but is generally mediocre or worse, and the last bullet point is “accidentally let the whole world know I hate the guts of the guy who signs the checks in the organization in which I’m going to try and cultivate sources.”

          The other resume could be blank and it would win.

          • acto

            Bupa,
            I wish they had my resume, I do not win very often.
            Is his new gig where old hack journalists go to die?

  • kjn

    Just read those excerpts from the Randy Lerner interview. Painful.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

    While Manningham may not want to come to Cleveland, I don’t see any other team in a hurry to sign up for his services.

  • Anonymous

    I think this needs to be moved over to Frownie’s Top Posts…

    Major points for the puzzle…and yes I have young children and look at that puzzle often.

    Ohio = Football (except for Cincy…they are northern KY)

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I must also give big ups for that puzzle, which I haven’t seen before. Growing up in Dayton, as a kid I spent many summer days in Triangle Park, and it mystified me to no end that there had once been a professional football team in Dayton. It made our trips to Municipal Stadium a little more fun.

      • Anonymous

        BRING BACK THE PORTSMOUTH SPARTANS.

  • Anonymous

    we didn’t even tender an offer for Adams? When are H&H going to plug holes instead of making them? And Holmgren wants us to stand pat at #4. urggg

    • Anonymous

      Yes, but look at the bright side. For free agents the Browns let walk they may get compensatory draft picks. The FO will be piling up the 6th and 7th rounders this offseason.

    • Anonymous

      Is anyone else starting to develop a twitch when they see “pat” in conversation? I hope next season is good enough to cure me.

    • Anonymous

      Adams only was starter last year because Young was hurt early on and then TJ got hurt.. not sure he fits in the long-term plans due to his age, as well as getting TJ and Young back healthy, not to mention the solid play by Hagg when he got in there towards the end of the season. Also seems that they may be serious about moving Sheldon over to FS. Hopefully that means they want to make room for Claiborne!

      • Anonymous

        Have to admit I’m generally with Biki here. Though Adams did basically beat Young out all of last year, drafting Claiborne and moving Brown to safety is something even the most cynical among us should be able to get behind.

        Also, #shutupbiki

        • acto

          Biki is completely correct this time Frownie.
          I am also very happy to see the Browns preparing for a good choice.
          Why the #shutupbiki?

          • Anonymous

            you really have to be worried if there ISNT a #shutupbiki attache to a frowns response. but yes, I can get behind this idea, although I liked the depth Adams gave us, moving brown to safety still provies us with a pretty decent amount of knowledge in our backfield for these young guys to glean.

  • Metcalfupthemiddle

    “There are reasons it didn’t happen,” said Holmgren. “There’s a very close relationship with” the parties that got it done.

    Pot calling the kettle black, no?

    • Anonymous
      • Anonymous

        damn, what a take down

      • Anonymous

        while it may sound like sour grapes, i don’t think there is anything wrong with Holmgren explaining his side of things to the fans, afterall it was a call with season-ticket holders and everyone seemed to be demanding an explanation as to what exactly went down. obviously there is only one RG3 and only one team could get him and several other teams lost out, and we were one of them. he explained that they tried, but the deal didn’t get done, and now they are going to use the picks to add talent to the team to help existing QBs or anyone else they may bring in as QB.

        besides, as they always say, the NFL is a people business, and Holmgren certainly has helped his own people out, so if he feels that there is something unfair with how Shannahan’s and Fishers relationship, as well as the execs prior relationships, then he’d obviously be a hypocrite. but i don’t sense that he was crying foul, he was just stating the facts of the situation.

        • Anonymous

          #shutupbiki

          • acto

            Oh…. Now I get it.
            #shutupbiki

      • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

        I think in light of the whole Grossi situation we need to take anything Florio says about the Browns with a grain of salt. He’s obviously carrying a torch for Twitter Tony.

        I get the sense that if the Browns had pulled off the trade Florio would be ripping them for giving up too much and not being able to any talent around RG3.

        • Anonymous

          No question Florio has a bad murder swell for Big Mike now, but here he happens to make some really good points.

          • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

            Indeed.

  • Anonymous

    “it’s harder to find geniuses than it is to find morons” well said. This organization can find many of the latter and run out the few former.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    It’s hard to believe that the Browns were once known across the country as the “New York Yankees of the N.F.L.”

    Regardless, I fully believe in building the team through the draft and using free agency to help with depth, i.e. the Pittsburgh/Green Bay way. Two other “cold” locations.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

    Yesterday it was “Boo hoo, the Redskins and Rams made a sweetheart deal and I can’t have my quarterback”

    Today, the company line is:

    “We’re not going to change [our system], but it takes time to get good at it. If you can stick with your quarterback and you stick with the system and you stick with the coaches in the program, it works. You just have to trust me on that.”

    “We do think Colt has a big ceiling,” Heckert said.

    “Colt has proven he can play in this league. As Coach Holmgren said, another year in the system and we get him better players, he has a chance to be really good.”

    (edit – here’s the link http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2012/03/16/sports/nh5238996.txt?viewmode=fullstory )

    I just… I don’t even know what to say about this. My bullshit meter is reading off the charts.

    • Anonymous

      well what would you have them say? we have to start a QB don’t we?? or should we just not even play the games? i mean, we obviously tried to get RG3 who seemingly everyone on the planet thinks is a surething and when you have a shot to get him you try to get him.. but it didn’t work, so plan b is to use what we have. and i don’t think they are bullshitting when they say they don’t believe that Colt has potential to improve, especially if you add talent around him he hopefully won’t have to carry the entire offense on his own, which obviously may not be something he will ever be able to do, whereas Griffin may be able to do more with less..

      • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

        It doesn’t matter what they say. Holmgren was stupid for throwing a mini temper tantrum over it.

        What could he have said? For starters, he should have kept it simple.

        “We explored all of our options with regards to Robert Griffin and decided that we weren’t going in that direction.”

        If he says that one sentence and then moves on, he doesn’t look like a petulant teenager who didn’t get what he wanted. Instead, he basically accused St Louis and Washington of colluding to move that pick to Washington, which isn’t even remotely close to violating league rules.

        Florio stated the 17 reasons or so that Holmgren did nothing to help his case by crying about it.

        Who the hell is dumb enough to believe anything they say about Colt now? Especially since it’s absolutely clear that they offered a king’s ransom for RGIII. Especially when they spend 1 of their 3 picks in the top 37 on a quarterback.

        Then Holmgren can spend another press conference explaining why they used a top draft pick on another quarterback when he has all the confidence in the world in Colt.

        • Anonymous

          Exactly.

          #shutupbiki

        • Anonymous

          i’m not sure it really matters what he says anyway, the results on the field is all that matters. the guy obviously wears his emotions on his sleeve. plenty of owners, executives have done the same or worse all the time..

          but what really amazes me is how some people are so concerned about how this could affect Colt’s teeny weeny feelings, but i could care less, this is the NFL, you hear stories everyday about how guys push themselves harder to silence the doubters, let’s see how Colt responds. hopefully this all sparks a holographic fire under his butt..

          • Cliff_cintula

            Use the chips Colt, use the chips.

          • Anonymous

            I heard Gabbert pushe himself harder, he even had a mantra. FTTEDM? i think? how is that working out for him?

          • Anonymous

            right because every rookie comes in like peyton manning, oh wait.. he sucked his rookie year.. i mean like eli manning or drew brees, oh wait..

        • Bryan

          I am not a Holmgren guy. But I think this type of hyper-criticism of his every word is a bit silly. It is not unreasonable that Holmgrem simultaneously believes that RGIII is a uniquely talented prospect worth pursuing AND that Colt, with better weapons, can be successful. In fact, I give the man credit for being honest that he believes both are true. I don’t think he is hiding anything. He is showing some passion, and admitting that they wanted RGIII as bad as the fans did, worked hard for it, and are pissed (like all of us) it didn’t work.

          Commenting from out perches in the blogosphere, its easy to assume that the decisions H&H face are easy. But they really aren’t. The margin that separates great NFL players from good ones is so small. You never really know with certainty which category a player will fall into until the moment they arrive there.

          I think Colt is UNLIKELY to be great. But I also think there is a possibility he could become very good. As such, I think the organization should be pursuing QBs that have a higher likelihood of being great, but that, until they find one, they should invest in Colt. That seems to be exactly what they are doing, which, to me, is one of the first thing H&H have done that I really think is nuanced and smart. It reveals an awareness that player evaluation involves risk, and that the smart strategy is to hedge that risk (by pursuing all available options) until you have what you need.

          • Anonymous

            of course, Colt is great! it was just those pesky drops…

      • acto

        “RG3 who seemingly everyone on the planet thinks is a surething”

        Step over to the dark side Biki.
        There is no such thing as a sure thing.

    • Jim

      Re: the Colt statements, of course its bullshit but not entirely sure why that matters. It’s clear that they aren’t sold on him as a player, but it is just as clear that they may be going in to the 2012 season with him starting. That being the case, common sense would dictate that they would play up his “talent” and their “confidence” in him to the media.

      I am guessing not many teams in the NFL would go into a press conference and state with honesty that their quarterback is less than stellar and/or nothing more than a placeholder.

      • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

        Understood, but don’t cry about St Louis and Washington back door-ing you on the QB of your dreams. Just pretend like you weren’t interested, then you don’t get stuck in a position where you have to blow sunshine off of Colt’s (and the fanbase’s) ass for the next 6 months.

  • Anonymous

    >>> a person who actually likes being here, and still makes his home here, despite being a Connecticut native.>>>

    You’re breaking me frowns. Ach…got…to…fight…it….

    I was all set to do a jeff foxworthy thing…like….if every disinterested word-salad from some douchey NFL wide receiver reminds you that Mike Holmgren likes living in Seattle, you might just have a MANGENDA! (apologies to JFox, JStew, and Acto.)

    But you really are breaking me.

    • Anonymous

      LET THE DEMONS OUT, BUP. LET THEM BE GONE.

  • Anonymous

    I think we maybe need to require CTIL to check in every two hours at least or send someone to her house. Now that I think about it, the last thing I heard from her was a reminiscence that she had touched PH on his hand and back, and a vague statement about not judging people or trying to understand their actions or something.

    Has anyone received any possessions from her? Do we know if she wears belts or shoelaces?

    • Anonymous

      I’ll put out an APB.

  • Anonymous

    “[J]ust like it’s harder to find geniuses than it is to find morons.” Possibly my favorite quote of all time.

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