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Jim Nantz takes on Cleveland media over Mike Lombardi criticism

Lombardi AP

The man known for his “hello, friends” greeting has a very different message for the enemies of new Browns V.P. of player personnel Mike Lombardi.

Jim Nantz of CBS has launched an assault against those in the Cleveland media who are criticizing the team’s decision to hire Lombardi — and against those within the league who have been, in Nantz’s view, backstabbing Lombardi.

Nantz made a spirited call on Friday to the local CBS Radio affiliate, and he followed it with a 17-minute interview by Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, during which Nantz admitted to possibly sounding “over the top” because he was walking briskly in the cold.  Nantz called the media opponents of Lombardi “smarmy” and accused them of “personal vendettas,” apparently pinning most of the blame on Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.

“Maybe I was speaking in broader terms, really, about just the overall climate in Cleveland. I’m not into attacking anybody in the media, ever, because I live in the same world,” Nantz said. “But I do think it has gone beyond the overall coverage . . . who are all these people who think they know more about football than Mike Lombardi?”

To his credit, Nantz at all times acknowledged a friendship with Lombardi.  Still, the zeal with which Nantz defended Lombardi more than counters the potency of the attacks.  At one point during the radio interview, for example, Nantz declared that Lombardi and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are the two smartest football people in the business.

We agree wholeheartedly with Nantz on one point.  Backstabbing is as common in the NFL as run-blocking.  Plenty of folks in the business will smile to your face, and then badmouth you as soon as you’re out of earshot.  While that’s a dynamic that infects plenty of industries, it’s an accepted practice among folks who are trying to get or to keep a finite number of jobs in an industry with no current inclination to expand  beyond 32 shops.

And Lombardi has been a victim of it.  We know that because, over the years, we’ve heard it.

Has it unfairly kept Lombardi out of the league for an extended period of the time?  Possibly, and if so that’s a shame.

But consider this undeniable fact:  Lombardi didn’t get an interview for any of the other six G.M. vacancies.  Not even the Jets, who conducted a scorched-earth campaign to find someone who would take the job, brought him in for an interview.If that’s a product of Lombardi being a victim of backstabbers and politics, it’s a damn shame.

Regardless of how it got to this point, Lombardi now has a chance to prove Nantz right, and to prove the naysayers wrong.  If the Browns thrive, he’ll be viewed as succeeding.  If the Browns continue to struggle, he’ll be viewed as failing.

Like everyone else in those positions, Lombardi has earned a chance to push the needle one way or the other.

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39 Responses to “Jim Nantz takes on Cleveland media over Mike Lombardi criticism”
  1. xsfmed says: Jan 21, 2013 2:10 PM

    Nantz should just stay out of it.

  2. savocabol1 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:16 PM

    Lombardi was picked to be the next GM (or VPP) of the Browns the minute Joe Banner stepped in. No team would waste their time with Lombardi for an interview when everyone knew he was coming to Cleveland.

  3. mattbergoon says: Jan 21, 2013 2:17 PM

    If anyone besides Cleveland thought he could do the job he w. ould have had one by now. Period.

  4. nnagi says: Jan 21, 2013 2:17 PM

    i don’t know much about nantz and lomabardi’s relationship, but clevelend fans do seem to be overly critical and stubborn and tony grossi is as unqualified as they come in regards to being a knowledgeable sports journalist…

  5. savocabol1 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:18 PM

    By the way Tony Grossi has been on a Twitter rampage about this Jim Nantz. I would say about 75% of his tweets since Friday has Nantz or Lombardi in it. He seriously wont get over this.

  6. ttommytom says: Jan 21, 2013 2:20 PM

    Smart and ‘football’ smart are two different things.

  7. jpb12 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:20 PM

    They’ve only had success in Cleveland when Belichick, Ozzie Newsome and Lombardi were there… ane even then only marginally thanks to Art leaving.

    #GrossiKnows
    #FactoryOfSadness

  8. brownoholic says: Jan 21, 2013 2:21 PM

    Boo hoo. Lombardi, you STINK..

  9. believeland1954 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:29 PM

    Shout out to Tony Grossi for being mentioned in a story other than his own.

  10. shackdelrio says: Jan 21, 2013 2:30 PM

    “At one point during the radio interview, for example, Nantz declared that Lombardi and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are the two smartest football people in the business.”

    That would be like saying Dustin Diamond and Daniel Day-Lewis are the two best actors in show business.

  11. takemytalentstosoutheuclid says: Jan 21, 2013 2:42 PM

    jpb12 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:20 PM

    They’ve only had success in Cleveland when Belichick, Ozzie Newsome and Lombardi were there… ane even then only marginally thanks to Art leaving.

    Seriously? You really need to check your facts. They had little to no success with that trio. The 4 drafts that Lombardi was ultimately responsible for, 1992 – 1995, reads like a who’s who of bust outs. Tommy Vardell? Steve Everitt?Let’s not forget Eric Zeir… Oh, and let’s remember he was in charge of managing the cap also, and player personnel. This was when Modell had to take a personal loan so they could sign Andre Freakin Rison…. Tired of all the pro Lombardi crap. He has managed to take one good draft with the Eagles in the late 90’s and turn it into a career.

  12. noburghfan says: Jan 21, 2013 2:44 PM

    No matter what a wonderful friend he is , if Joe Banner , was not in Cleveland neither would Lombardi be !

  13. demolition510 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:45 PM

    Coulda been worse Cleveland. It wasnt Matt Millen.

  14. realfootballfan says: Jan 21, 2013 2:45 PM

    Everybody knows Lombardi has horrible people skills. If you even listen to him being interviewed past a few sound bytes, his jerkiness creeps to the surface. Furthermore, the state of disrepair that he helped to leave the Raiders in as Al Davis’ right hand man after Bruce Allen left the franchise is pretty indicative of his work.

    Floyd Reese deserved another shot before this clown, but hopefully for Brown fans, Banner who has a huge ego himself will keep him in the background. Don’t know if that’s a positive though, lol. He seems to operate best in that role where he’s part of a collective, which keeps him from putting his horrible personality on full display.

    Never thought I’d see the day, two of the more horrid personalities in Lombardi and Trestman got back into the league well past when I thought their careers were over. Go figure. Guess it pays to have friends in high places.

  15. mnicgor says: Jan 21, 2013 2:46 PM

    Lombardi said during draft coverage this past year that Russell Wilson would be a bust in the NFL.

    with that kind of talent evaluation, it’s a wonder he got a job w/ NFL Network, let alone an actual NFL franchise!

    I guess that last name carries some weight huh?

  16. mustangseo says: Jan 21, 2013 2:46 PM

    What is the fued between Grossi and Lombardi about? Obviously it goes back to the early 90’s…but what’s the root of the issue between them?

  17. bartlettruss says: Jan 21, 2013 2:46 PM

    Cleveland fans might consider providing a more supportive environment like what exists in Green Bay or Kansas City. Those programs aren’t perfect either, but Cleveland seems to always want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe that’s why they couldn’t keep their team in the city and haven’t had a team worth watching since Jim Brown quit.

  18. stew48 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:46 PM

    As a long term Steeler fan, it is my sincere hope that Lombardi is not just successful, but VERY successful. Why? Ravens, Ravens Ravens, so very obnoxious from near top to bottom.

  19. raiderlyfe510 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:51 PM

    Mike Lombardi should not be the VP of anyones personnel dept. His resume is a perfect picture of past failures.

  20. scottplayersfacemask says: Jan 21, 2013 2:51 PM

    Just look at Lombardi’s drafting record while with the Browns MrNantz, that should explain why we Browns fans are a bit testy. Everybody calls our past draft picks stupid thanks to the efforts of people such as Lombardi and now wonder why we’re freaking because he’s back and ready to pick up where he left off.

  21. crubenst says: Jan 21, 2013 2:53 PM

    Nance also said “you can’t find anyone with a bad word to say about Joe Banner.” As everyone in Philly knows, he lost all credibility right there.

  22. Deb says: Jan 21, 2013 2:59 PM

    Does Jim Nantz understand his role is to call play-by-play for the network, not to become the story himself? I’ve often wondered that when listening to him call games.

  23. shutupbrees says: Jan 21, 2013 3:00 PM

    I only know Lomardi thru his NFL Network segments, but he never struck me as anything more than one of the talking heads who do fantasy football. His resume stinks as well. I don’t blame people in Cleveland for second guessing the decision.

    Similarly head-scratching is how the Jets wanted to retain Mike Tannenbaum for his cap salary knowledge when he’s absolutely crippled that team with the cap in the following few seasons.

  24. bringbackkosar says: Jan 21, 2013 3:00 PM

    Give Lombardi a chance, what’s the worst that can happen…he and Chud fired after 2 seasons like everybody else is in Cleveland. Grossi misses the previous regime (the one that whiffed on RG3)?!
    Why all the uproar over the Haslam regime making lots of changes, it’s not like he’s tampering with success!

  25. pcsheward says: Jan 21, 2013 3:01 PM

    Nantz also bolstered Lombardi by claiming that Belichick thinks Lombardi’s the smartest football guy there is. Later, he stated that Belichick and Lombardi are “inseparable.” Of course, the interviewer didn’t point out the natural credibility issue there, either. Because, you know, if they are truly inseparable, I sure hope Belichick would give Lombardi a ringing endorsement.

  26. johnqlunchbox says: Jan 21, 2013 3:15 PM

    Lombardi has that magical touch that allows him to spread joy and happiness whenever he goes.

    Lombardi has been fired by four teams and spent the last 5 years in NFL purgatory. His picks were legendary busts, ESPECIALLY the ones he made with Bill Bellichick when they spent five years together in Cleveland. There are plenty of lists of Lombardi’s horrid draft choices over the entire span of his career that have been published on the internet in the last five days.

    Lombardi didn’t have a paper cat’s chance of landing a job ANYWHERE other than with Joe Banner (for whom Lombardi served as best man at his wedding). Give it up, Nantz, every avid pro football fan in the US knows what a hopeless misfit Lomardi has been.

  27. raiderdaddy says: Jan 21, 2013 3:43 PM

    Raider fans have an “experience” with Lombardi. Google Art Shell and Lombardi. Good luck Doggies!

  28. coop16 says: Jan 21, 2013 3:43 PM

    We Browns fans are testy because the team has done nothing but lose since 1999, and believe me, if your team had been that terrible for that long, you’d be testy too. And it hasn’t helped to see the team hitting the reset button every two years while all of the other teams in our division are among the most stable in the NFL (and they keep crushing us every year, of course). Even when it looks like we might be making some progress, it all gets thrown out the window every two years and we start over. It’s getting old. In fact, it got old a long time ago.

  29. howiehandles says: Jan 21, 2013 3:43 PM

    “They’ve only had success in Cleveland when Belichick, Ozzie Newsome and Lombardi were there… ane even then only marginally thanks to Art leaving.”

    Belichick’s record in Cleveland was just 34-44. Not real good. Marty Schottenheimer’s record was 44-27, pretty darn good.

  30. rajbais says: Jan 21, 2013 3:47 PM

    “But I do think it has gone beyond the overall coverage . . . who are all these people who think they know more about football than Mike Lombardi?”

    Oh Jim. You so do not sound arrogant.

    I’m a Michael Lombardi fan, however, but when guys like tony Grossi look at track records with as much depth as possible he’s not making it a personal vendetta.

    He’s a natural skeptic with the right to his own opinion. He formed his skepticism with facts and published it.

    What’s next Jim?

    Are you going to say “you know nothing about announcing” when I felt (and still do) that you never deserved football and basketball play-by-play duties?

    Are you going to do it when there have been people in online and print media who felt Gus Johnson was more deserving of it than you???

  31. upperdecker19 says: Jan 21, 2013 3:53 PM

    Backstabbing and talking behind one’s back. A tradition like no other……..

  32. purpleguy says: Jan 21, 2013 3:57 PM

    Let me see if I understand this, after trashing players and organizations with Bill Simmons on his BS reports, Lombardi and his cronies are upset with backhanded media criticism? I suspect Lombardi’s middle name is “pot” the way he keeps calling the media kettles black.

  33. undraftedstar says: Jan 21, 2013 7:29 PM

    The 2 smartest football ppl..well then again I guess it is smart to cheat to win, unless you get caught..Just kidding..lol.

  34. itsonlyaspeedbump says: Jan 21, 2013 7:39 PM

    Wait a minute Jim. Are you trying to tell me that people in CLEVELAND hold grudges?

    Get outta here.

  35. arcaero says: Jan 21, 2013 11:43 PM

    It is common knowledge in Cleveland that Lombardi was the ultimate front office backstabbing climber in his time here from 87-95. A smooth talking snake oil salesman who took credit for the work of others…

    That’s why NOBODY (except Joe Ba) wanted him back here (or anywhere else, apparently).

    It is not just Grossi in the Cleveland media who has expressed serious concerns about Lombardi’s credentials and ability. Terry Pluto and other old timers that were covering the team during Lombardi’s first stint have raised concerns as well.

    Hell, the man even had to proclaim in his announcement presser that he is a “changed man” that has “learned from experience” and “all I ask is for a fresh start”. Sounds like he knows what we are talking about!

    As far as people in Cleveland holding grudges…everybody involved in the Browns moving to Baltimore won, financially and on the field, except the fans of Cleveland. Modell, Lerners, Cleveland politicians, Belechick, City of Baltimore, the NFL..

    Fans of Cleveland are still holding the bag for that whole fiasco. So to those of you who are ignorant of the entire story, but still choose to inanely comment, STICK IT UP YOUR ARSK.

    That’s the facts, Jack.

  36. rashaffer06 says: Jan 22, 2013 9:53 AM

    Heckert’s 2012 draft alone is better than Lombardi’s carear draft picks put together. Just when I thought we were headed in the right direction. There is no way anyone that has any kind of football knowledge thinks Lombardi is a better judge of talent then Heckert. Once again the Browns go one step forward and two steps back.

  37. audient says: Jan 22, 2013 9:45 PM

    “Belichick’s record in Cleveland was just 34-44. Not real good. Marty Schottenheimer’s record was 44-27, pretty darn good.”

    C’mon. That includes the 5-11 season in 1995, the season Art Modell announced the move. No one was going to win under those conditions.

    The year before that was the last time the Browns won a playoff game.

  38. calebsullivan says: Jan 24, 2013 11:49 AM

    You mean Tony “I’m so smart and everything I say is right and if you don’t agree with me you are a moron who knows nothing and if the browns listened to me they would be undefeated every year” Gross?

  39. hedphurst says: Jan 24, 2013 12:06 PM

    So far, Banner and Lombardi seem like two sour peas in the same pod. Like most Browns fans, they’ll have to work harder than most people in their positions to win me over, but I’m rooting for that to happen. I’d like nothing more than to look back at this offseason as the turning point for this team, and for Banner/Lombardi/Chudzinski to remain a team for the next decade. I just have a bad gut feeling about the first two names. Haslam seems great, Chud seems like a smart guy who realizes that he needs experienced coordinators to help him succeed as a rookie head coach, but Banner and Lombardi just seem like smug good ol’ boys who care more about personal glory than the good of the franchise. I hope I’m wrong…

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