Mike Lombardi was never short on opinions of the Browns personnel when he worked for the NFL Network.
But now that he’s the Browns general manager, he doesn’t have nearly as much to say.
Lombardi hasn’t talked on the record for any of the Browns beat writers since he was introduced at a press conference in January, and as CEO Joe Banner explained to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, that’s not a coincidence.
“I don’t think anybody would deny that whether people are for him or against him, he’s a lightning rod at the moment,” Banner said. “It attracts a lot of attention and it gets a lot of strong reaction and I think it’s better for us right now and better for him to keep things calm, low-key, focus on his work and then kind of more gradually let that situation take care of itself in terms of his availability to you all.”
Banner said if Browns fans, or reporters, were looking for someone to hold accountable, to send it up the flagpole.
“You can blame me,” Banner said. “There won’t be a shortage of someone to hold accountable. This is a gradual [process]. I think it makes more sense, obviously from our perspective, to kind of let this happen. Evolve into it, as opposed to jumping into it.
“He’s not going to be hidden. He’s not going to be somebody over time you won’t have an opportunity to talk to. But as I say there are certainly no accountability issues. I’m sitting here and you can hold me accountable for whatever we do. And ultimately whether it’s responsibility because of the people we hired or my own role in decisions that we make, I’m a big boy and I accept that comes with the territory here. You hope that credit comes if you do well too, but the accountability is not going to be anything anybody here is going to shy away from.”
Hiring someone who made a living in the media, and then keeping them from it, is an awkward strategy.
But given the pre-existing relationships there from Lombardi’s days with the old Browns, it’s hard to imagine time healing all old wounds.