God help Ray Farmer

by Cleveland Frowns on February 13, 2014

Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, two of the formerly Three Stooges of the Cleveland Browns, are now goners, which might be cause for Browns fan to celebrate if not for the fact that Imperial Boss Stooge Jimmy Haslam is still in charge.

Ray Farmer will become the Browns’ third GM in three years, with Alec Scheiner taking over as head of business operations, the pair replacing the GM/CEO team that Haslam hired a year ago, to fire just after letting them participate in the unprecedented mess of a search for new head coach Mike Pettine, also Jimmy’s third in three years, to replace the last head coach, Rob Chudzinski, who was hired last January.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.54.30 AM

However much credit the Browns owner might be due for failing fast here, it’s clear enough that Banner and Lombardi were let go mainly for their inability to clean up an impossible disaster that Haslam himself created. After the way the Browns treated Chudzinski, it would have been hard enough for Jesus, Gandhi and MLK to land a decent head coach in Cleveland. Whatever say that Lombanner had in the matter, there’s no question that the universally ridiculed decision to terminate Chud after only one season was ultimately Haslam’s. At the time, “league sources” were quick to leak reports about how “incensed” Jimmy was about the loss to the Jets, and how Jimmy was so “disgusted” by the Browns performance in the season finale against the Steelers that he “[stormed] out of Heinz Field” midway through the fourth quarter.

Now, amazingly, the same reporters are quoting “league sources” again to explain that actually “Chud was Haslam’s guy” all along, and that Jimmy “probably would have given him another year.” Which isn’t even half of the tsunami of bullshit that blasted out of Berea on Tuesday.

Of course, it would have been especially hard for Haslam to admit that he fired Banner and Lombardi for the coaching search given that he’s pretty well stuck with the product of that search, Pettine, at least for now. So instead Jimmy tried to pass Lombanner’s departure off as a mere “streamlining” of the organization that had been in the works for awhile, affirming that he “would not [have done] one thing different” in the coaching search.

“Now everyone will report to me, that’s what I’m used to,” said the same man who claims to know nothing about the multimillion-dollar rebate scam at his billion-dollar truck-stop chain.

In addition to the facial implausibility of this “streamlining” nonsense, the reports by established professionals that specifically contradict it are numerous and unrebutted. Among them, it’s come out that Haslam disagreed with Banner’s preference to wait until after the Super Bowl to interview Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for the head coaching vacancy. And most alarmingly, SI’s Peter King provided a detailed account of “a major rift in the organization” that resulted from a disagreement between Haslam and Banner about the merits of Greg Schiano, who’s still without a job today after having been tossed out of Tampa in the ugliest locker room mutiny that the NFL has seen in years. According to King, Haslam was “intrigued” with the idea of hiring Schiano as head coach after having received an “over the top recommendation” from Bill Belichick. Banner, on the other hand, apparently understood the disaster that a Schiano hire would have been in Cleveland, and was reportedly “cold” to the candidate, “not participating much in the interview.”

If anything can be said for Banner, it’s that he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize to the extent that he helped keep Schiano out of Cleveland.

Anyway, Ray Farmer is the head of football operations now, who seems like a terrific guy, and infinitely more qualified than Banner and Lombardi combined. God help him. Maybe he’ll have better luck grabbing the wheel the next time Haslam wants to drive the franchise over the cliff. Who wouldn’t bet on it?

All gods please help

The next most important draft in in Browns history is in 83 days. Seven rounds, ten picks, zero years of experience for the GM, zero years of experience for the head coach, and the fourth annual Cleveland Frowns draft party at Map Room. Don’t forget to mark your calendar.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    And by god I mean all of the gods.

    • CleveLandThatILove

      Well yeah, Peyton Manning.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Underestimate the Peyton Manning Factor at your own risk.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Also, I enjoyed this from Posnanski:

    “Tuesday, the Browns announced that Lombardi and Banner were leaving the team. Of course they are. Banner, in one of the greatest ever misuses of a word, called his departure, “bittersweet.” This would suggest that his departure was a little bit bitter and a little bit sweet. You tell me, what was sweet about taking the job, firing the old coach, hiring a new coach, trading a player many regarded as the team’s future star, losing a lot of games, firing the new coach, hiring a new-new coach and then getting shoved out the door? What was sweet about that? The food? The company car? What?”


    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      im sure it was ‘sweet’ for banner to cull through bartlett’s for arcane (and prescient) inspirational mural quotations.

    • zarathustra

      Sorry, but “trading a player many regarded as the team’s future star” should not be considered a blight on banner and it is bit troubling that that has become part of the narrative.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Yeah, he might have done better to have left that part out, but the overall point still stands.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        Exactly Zara, such an egregious error!
        Larry and Curly were not the chumps who sent the great Charlie Fry off to the land of hemp and Stuporbowls for a lousy 6th round draft pick.

  • beeej

    To be fair Gandhi was always more a a Cricket guy. Football would be a difficult transition for him.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Very true beeej, I will never forget the story of when Mahatma Gandhi was left off the roster of “The Men in Blue”. It is hard to imagine him when he went after the coaches with a cricket bat knocking most of them unconscious.

      • beeej

        You know how Gandhi gets if he hasn’t had breakfast. They should make a Snickers commercial with him.

        • bupalos

          Dude’s gotta get his 3 squares or all hell breaks loose, I think there are whole empires that can attest to that.

  • Bryan

    Such a good line:

    ““Now everyone will report to me, that’s what I’m used to,” said the same man who claims to know nothing about the multimillion-dollar rebate scam at his billion-dollar truck-stop chain.”

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      In case it’s not clear, Bill Livingston was the first I saw to make this connection in the PD column that’s linked at that line. Livy and Shaw have both been really sharp on these offseason moves.

      • beeej

        How weird is it to write that last sentence?

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Are certain that you are not the other Brian?

  • p_forever

    this is the worst part by far:

    “Now everyone will report to me, that’s what I’m used to,” said the same man who claims to know nothing about the multimillion-dollar rebate scam at his billion-dollar truck-stop chain.”

    ugh could anyone be more of an entitled asshole, or less in touch with reality, than this trust fund baby billionaire omg omg omg omg omg omg

  • Shadow_play

    That ESPN screengrab is quite depressing. We all know it’s bad around here but seeing the facts like that hurts.

    • beeej

      “Stop letting the liberal media influence your opinions. It’s the damn press making the situation seem worse than it is.”

      Approximate quote from Jimmy Big Trucks

      How he said it with a straight face is beyond me. It’s the type of line Jimmy Fallon would have giggled his way through during his SNL days.

  • zarathustra

    I’m of a different opinion on lombardi than you (everyone as far as I can tell) but regardless what one thinks of he or banner this all seems quite randy-esque. He too talked about stability and I think like Haslam was sincere, but it is always stability going forward, never through the often necessary adversity. The coaching search was pr disaster–a lot of which can be explained by 4 or 5 internal camps with compete viewpoints leaking self-interested info to the media. The fact that the negative pr or any fan backlash had anything to with this should be alarming to all browns fans, because this empowers the dogpound Mike’s of the world. But just like most fans had no problem with the ultimate fruits of what dogpound mike wrought, now most of those same fans are celebrating another victory. And they will probably celebrate again when the media starts slobbering over the rumors of Peyton manning as the next savior.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Acknowledging that multiple factors were at play here, I think you’re stretching pretty badly to assume that the disastrousness of the coaching search was due to any other factor as much as it was due to the way Chudzinski was treated by these guys.

  • bupalos

    Maybe this is just me being my usual panglossian self, but it sure feels like both the ultimate results of this…mmm…process…, and the process itself will ultimately redound to the Browns’ benefit. The former, because the structure and the coach and the gm finally seem right to me, in a way that hasn’t been true since Butch. The latter, because while it’s pretty clear that our #1 ongoing problem here is going to be a sociopathic, easily manipulated, affluenza-infected owner*, said owner simply HAS to lay low for a while here. He can’t be that big of an idiot as to keep this wheel turning. He can’t be.

    He just can’t be.


    So Farmer and Pettine are going to get the space they need to succeed, and are going to have pretty much every resource advantage they could have–including a roster that honestly is already fairly decent– with high motivation and relatively low expectations to boot, and a huge payoff in power and prestige as a carrot in front of them.

    *Still boggles my mind that pretty much everyone here thought Randy Lerner was a problem that needed fixing.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      “Browns fans who believe the publicly owned Green Bay Packers have the best owners in football might already be nostalgic for Lerner-brand disinterest and ineffectuality.” — Cleveland Frowns, Aug. 8, 2012


      • bupalos

        An oldie but a goodie I admit–however that was after the sale, when what I had been saying forever– with exactly no one agreeing– became a little clearer being a little nearer. A Randy Lerner type is about the best you can expect or hope for from the robber baron class that is allowed to own NFL franchises, in both football and social terms. Our underperformance wasn’t determined by Randy Brittishbritches. He made fairly conservative but well-regarded decisions and bought off the full-price rack. We mostly just got some crap luck and (as a fanbase and organization) pushed some self-defeating panic buttons.

        Now we’ve got the kind of guy you actually have to worry about.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          You had a good point there which is yet another reason why everyone loves you, bup.

          • bupalos

            Everyone AND Acto. You forgot Acto.

            But even though it’s clear they all love me, I just wish they understood how hard it is to be me. I don’t feel like they’re getting that aspect of this whole deal.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Somebody’s gotta make the cheesy eggies.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          “Randy Brittishbritches”
          You know I love you Bupa!
          Sir, may I please have some porridge?
          Shall we watch the fortunes of Aston Villa in an even more competitive environment?
          Also Bupa, for posterity’s sake, (not really certain what that means), this year it is Brett Smith. I could be twisting my wrists on a complete swing and miss, but I like this guy 80% as much as I liked Russell Wilson, though for vastly different reasons

        • NeedsFoodBadly

          Incorrect. The Lerner legacy would’ve prevented the Browns from ever achieving success. The football gods would never allow the family that facilitated the Browns moving in the first place to flourish with these replacement Browns. Ties had to be cleanly severed from the Modell/Lerner sleaze.

          The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When our team had “AL” plastered over their sleeves, what success did they have? Such an affront was roundly punished by the Gods of Football (of whom Paul Brown is their king), and justly so.

          Now that that taint is gone, there is at least some hope, overzealous owner or not.

          • bupalos

            Sins of the father. There was already a sufficiently clean break to propitiate the dark powers such as they are.

            And Correction: To “overzealous” let’s add sociopathic, world-destroying, criminal-minded, bratty, deceitful, and ass-covering.

            The other one’s dad schemed to gain control of football in Cleveland. Al and Randy were Henry’s IV and V (well maybe IV.V, Randy). Haslem is Richard III at best.

            But everyone loves a “clean” break.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            Yeah, but Richard III rules. Ian McKellen played him, it was awesome. Advantage, Haslem.

            All those adjectives apply to MBNA practices, to some extent or another. Show me a sports team owner with clean hands? Arena football doesn’t count.

          • bupalos

            Truck Stop Jimmy is simply on another level and a couple layers closer to the destruction of aquifers, oceans, and life on the planet than Credit Card Al.

            Paul Allen seems pretty good to me too. He’s not only pretty clean himself, he’s actually using his position of privilege to try and effect change within the rest of sport and the NFL with regard to alt energy.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            Point taken on Allen.

            I’d argue about engendering cultural circumstances that allow for the existence of a Haslem being more toxic in the first place, but I was being flip from the start.

            All I can say with any seriousness is naw, I can’t really pine for the days of Randy since his absenteeism tilled the soil that allowed Haslem to take root. As a generality, a hands off owner could be good. But in specificity, Randy never produced nothin’ and was always predisposed to rid himself of this team in ten years (less, if it wasn’t a dying promise to dear old Pops). Sins of the father or no, Al and Randy and Jimbo are all links in the same chain. F all three of em

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          i blame grossi. he was consistently bludgeoning lerner in the paper about hiring a ‘credible football man.’ so lerner goes out and gets a wrong credible football man. and um,, well point is, lerner tried to do right for awhile there.

          • Butzmark

            Grossi passed out pitchforks and torches before Mangini arrived and did the same for Banner and Lombardi. The fans ate it up and it was the public perception of the two regimes that influenced the owner’s hand.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      “So Farmer and Pettine are going to get the space they need to succeed.”

      They’re likely going to get more space than Chud and Lombanner got, but that’s all one may safely assume here.

      • mrdot

        It seems to me that Pettine is the odd one out now. Two of the three guys who hired him are gone and he has a GM who didn’t pick him. I bet he gets “Chudded” next winter if there’s even a hint of underperformance.

        • Jeff

          There’s just no way Pettine doesn’t get at least 3, maybe 4 years unless he totally craps the bed. Haslam has fired so many people that he’s painted himself into a corner in which he just can’t fire another coach else for a while. The press seemed to miss this implication but Pettine apparently was smart enough to see it and press his advantage, which is one reason I’m inclined to like him. And now that Haslam has fired Lombanner, I’m guessing that Farmer has a big buffer too.

          • bupalos

            I think there’s a way, but the only way is if this guy Haslem is just an epic meddling moron.

            But he might be. People put waaaaay too much stock in how much intelligence it took to expand an inherited truck-stop empire.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Please remember to tip your lot lizard.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Had to like for panglossian!
      I had a panglossian view once, it took emergency surgery and 8 weeks of penicillin, but I finally got rid of it.

      • beeej

        I saw one in the zoo!

  • Chris Mc

    The thing that I keep seeing Haslam repeatedly get positive recognition for is that “He saw what the problem was and fixed it quickly and decisively.”

    If my mechanic said to me, “Hey, sorry bud I messed your car up. But be patient with me, I did fix it and I paid for the added repair which was super expensive SO HEAP COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF PRAISE IN MY DIRECTION”.

    He shouldn’t be praised for hiring his stooges then firing them a year later.

    • technivore

      I don’t think it’s so much Haslam being praised as it is relief that Joe Banner is no longer running amok in Berea.

      • Chris Mc

        I’m just going off of what I’ve seen in my twitter feed. It’s being presented as if Haslam is absolved for his blunder, as though it never happened in the first place. This is the main hangup that I have in believing that he got it right this time.

  • Defenestration

    Would Rob Chudzinski have been fired if this shakeup had happened before the end of the season?

    I dunno, you tell me.

    Beat Writer for The Plain Dealer

  • 7ryder

    WTF am I gonna do with this shirt now?

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Super amazing double secret agent orange like!

  • beeceeinla

    i guess i’m in the minority, but i’m giving haslam the chance to prove himself by how farmer and pettine do. i think haslam did a smart thing by dumping banner (and lombardi) but it took the 2nd head coach search process to confirm what haslam probably already had clues about. mainly that banner (who a number of people think was foisted on haslam by the NFL) is capable on the business side, but wasn’t qualified to handle football related decisions, and his behavior alienated and offended a number of people throughout the league. the current structure is in fact one that is used by a number of successful NFL franchises. farmer is as far as i can tell widely respected as a legit up & comer. if the current team fails, then i’m ready to dump on haslam as much as the next guy

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Extra points for “foisted”.
      However, perhaps you should check out the Tennessee Haslamania Project.
      From what I can tell the Family Haslam wants to improve and extend animal cruelty, turn the 1% into the .01% and they never met a scam they did not like.

  • Brian Sipe

    I remember when Grossi and others killed Mangini for taking Mack over Sanchez. Now Grossi is writing articles about how important it is to keep Mack, blah blah blah…

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