One of the most bizarre stories of the first night of the draft came from Cleveland, where ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio was embedded with the Browns.
After Cleveland moved up from 26 to 22 to get Johnny Manziel, Paolantonio explained on the air that owner Jimmy Haslam became convinced the fans in Cleveland wanted Manziel after a homeless man said to the owner, “Draft Manziel.”
It’s a funny, quirky little anecdote. But the way it was sold by Paolantonio creates the impression that: (1) the homeless guy actually had influence over Haslam; and (2) Haslam actually had influence over the pick.
And that’s not a good impression to create.
Then again, maybe the homeless man influenced Haslam, who in turn influenced the guys he pays to ultimately do what they think he wants them to do. After all, the Browns reportedly spent $100,000 for an analytics study that told them Teddy Bridgewater was the best quarterback in this year’s draft. And they didn’t take Bridgewater.
So maybe they should ask for a refund — and maybe they should give the money to the homeless guy.
Or maybe they should just hire the homeless guy. After all, they’ve got plenty more picks to make before this draft is over.
In all (or at least some) seriousness, this is more of a knock on ESPN than the Browns. They sold a story Haslam shared with Sal as something far more significant than it likely was to the process.
But perception is reality, and the perception that Haslam listened to a homeless man and that Haslam dictated the pick will now be the reality for many.