Nearly two years ago, the Browns selected quarterback Johnny Manziel under circumstances suggesting that owner Jimmy Haslam was at a minimum involved and at most directed the move. Now, in the wake of the decision to sign quarterback Robert Griffin III, it’s clear that Haslam gave express approval to the move.
“Go get him,” Haslam reportedly told his football brain trust, according to Jeff Darlington of NFL Media.
Plenty of owners have plenty of involvement in personnel decisions. They own the team; they have the right to approve and/or veto every move — especially the significant ones. Still, at a time when the perception lingers that Haslam is a little too involved in football decisions, yet another tale of Haslam being involved in a key decision cuts against the notion that things have truly changed.
In 2014, a tongue-in-cheek anecdote regarding a homeless man who told Haslam to “draft Manziel” had the unintended effect of demonstrating that the experts hired to make football decisions in Cleveland weren’t making them without the influence of a non-expert. This latest report will do little to erase the sense that the people entrusted to make the decisions aren’t being given the power to do so.
In fairness to the team, the “go get him” message shows that Haslam agreed with his football people. However, the fact that Haslam even gave the directive implies that he has the ability to veto the people who run the football operation, which means that no matter what adjustments have been made in an effort to enhance and improve the process of acquiring football players, the guy signing the checks still reserves the right to also determine to identity of the players to whom the checks will be issued.
With the passage of time, that could change. If coach Hue Jackson and executive V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown develop a track record of making sound personnel decisions, Haslam eventually won’t even need to give the green light on a player-by-player basis. The permission to keep doing what they’ve been doing will be implied.