Browns CEO keeping “lightning rod” GM away from media


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, 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.

36 responses to “Browns CEO keeping “lightning rod” GM away from media

  1. Someone should tell Tony Grossi that he’s the only one who gives a darn about this. Lombardi is with the Browns whether Tony likes it or not. It’s time to move on.

  2. The fact that Banner has to come out and say this to the media is just a testament to how embarrassing of a hire Lombardi was. How can Haslam possibly be okay with this?

  3. It seems that since Jimmy Haslam has taken over the franchise, the Browns operation and approach seems more disjointed and ‘problematic’ than ever…

  4. Are lightning rods six inches long, brown and smelly? ‘Cause that’s a perfect description of Lombardturd!

    Also, Haslam is not OK with this. He has asked Lombardfart not to stop by and Flying J or Pilot truck stops.

  5. Maybe Joe should have done some research on his buddy Mike Lombardi before hiring him. Maybe he should have realized how unpopular he remains in Cleveland. Maybe Joe should have considered other candidates before telepathing he was hiring Lombardi before he had even fired Tom Heckert.

  6. The Browns fans posting above sound a whole lot like the ones I here on local sports talk. Re hiring Lombardi seems to be a very unpopular move with fans.

  7. My guess is that they are hoping for a good draft for people to like, then bring Lombardi out as the architect of the draft and all will be well. Just a guess.

  8. I cannot stand Lombardi. That being said, I hope he does well in Cleveland so that I never have to hear his annoying voice gush over the Patriots constantly.

  9. How does it feel to know you could have had the best QB since John Elway in RGIII but don’t Brown fans?

    Felt pretty bad til he became damaged goods after just one season.

    Are you under the impression Banner or Lombardi were with the Browns back then?

  10. It seems that since Jimmy Haslam has taken over the franchise, the Browns operation and approach seems more disjointed and ‘problematic’ than ever…


    Wow, seriously? I’d expect a Steeler fan to be much more familiar w the history of the expansion Browns….

  11. They keep him hidden because the first chance on air again he’s going to praise Bill Belichick and The Patriots from left field. Warren Sapp- and the rest of us were tired of it back in 2008

  12. logicalvoicesays says:
    Mar 19, 2013 11:12 AM

    “How does it feel to know you could have had the best QB since John Elway in RGIII but don’t Brown fans.”

    Bwaaaahahhahahahhahahaa!!! Classic Redskin rhetoric from the illogical one…

  13. Tony Grossi is sooo terrible on the radio. I don’t care if he continues to write, I don’t have to read his articles, but please keep him off the air. .
    If I were Lombardi, I would never talk to Grossi again. Grossi crucified him before Lombardi even returned to Cleveland.

  14. RG3 is the best since Elway?? Based on one season that he couldn’t even finish?!? Redskins fans are clearly delusional… Have fun rooting for Cousins again this year. RG3 is FRAGILE!

  15. Hey logical voice says…how dose it feel to have a qb that won’t last 3 seasons cause you don’t know how to take care of him?already damaged goods.what a waste.

  16. Again all this is just garbage, who cares if Lombardi is vocal or not? Bottom line if they turn this thing around it will not matter. So let’s wait and see before we have the pig roast and if they fall flat on their face like past regimes then let the basting begin, but until then everyone get a life and chill out.

  17. How dose it feel paying Haynsworth 100 million dollars for doing nothing and paying Mcnabb for basically the same thing?You can bring up Redskins mistakes all say long and never miss a beat.

  18. The Browns are on the right path. Keep your head down and ignore the haters.

    2-3 pieces from a dominant defense.

  19. Gotta love this place. Where people post with no intention other than trying to piss people off.

  20. I have never seen anything like this in my 40+ years of following Pro football…a team CEO who would not allow his GM to talk to the media.

    The truth is, Haslam, Banner and Lombardi do not want to be questioned about anything they do…talk about some thin skinned folks.

    It is the job of the sports media to question team owners, CEOs and General Managers. It happens nearly every single day in the NFL and for the most part, every other franchise is able to navigate through the questions posed by the media, without a problem.

    But in Cleveland, our new CEO, Joe Banner, hired Mike Lombardi to be his GM but now it seems that Banner either doesn’t trust Lombardi talking to the media or Lombardi is afraid of the Cleveland sports media.

    Keep in mind, the Cleveland media hasn’t even been tough on Haslam, Banner or Lombardi, so don’t get the idea that the problem is with the local sports media.

    The problem, as I see it, is…Banner can’t stand to be questioned about his football moves and he doesn’t want anyone else in management being questioned either.

    The Browns (fan) message board was shut down last week with no date mentioned about how long it would remain down. The Browns management (Banner and Lombardi) were taking some heat from the fans over the message board, but I didn’t believe it was too harsh.

    This new management team needs to toughen up a bit…

  21. Just curious: What is the source of the Lombardi resentment in Cleveland? I know he worked there before, but what did he do to tick fans off so bad?

    BTW, Desmond Bryant from the Raiders was a GREAT signing. Guy is a beast and is just now about to enter his prime. Only reason he’s not more well known is because he was behind a pair of DTs making a combined roughly $20 mil per year in Seymour and Tommy Kelly.

  22. “How does it feel to know you could have had the best QB since John Elway ”


    The Browns never had a chance to draft Andrew Luck!

  23. All you Browns fans are going to be singing a different tune as this team get better over the next few years. Hate them if you want, but following the Pats way of doing things on some levels is going to be good for the Browns, just like it has been for Ravens and the Niners.

    “Cleveland ’95.” Watch it.

  24. Logicalvoicesays. Worry about your built like a glass house QB who has torn the same ACL twice in three years.
    Ur defense is suspect at best and your offense will struggle in year 2 because of the available game tape out there. Look at newton. And also capernick in the suberbowl since the ravens had time to prepare.( first half because they were not tired yet)

  25. Autumnwind999:

    He’s generally regarded as an untrustworthy snake who was only ever looking out for #1 and for being so far up Belichick’s rear that he could tell what Bill had for lunch. He undermined GM Ernie Accorsi (architect of the great 80s Browns and 2000s Giants) until the classy Accorsi basically said “If you think you can do better than me, have at it, son.” He was BBs #1 personnel assistant after that, largely because he was really good at memorizing other people’s opinions on players (which made his TV career). He also used to clash with old -school scout Thom Dmitroff, Sr. (father of the current Falcons GM) so used Dmitroff’s battle with cancer as an excuse to fire him in 1995 (Note to Patsfiend: read The War Room – fleshes out Cleveland 95). He also put together, at Belichick’s request, a “worst of” reel of local icon Bernie Kosar to show Art Modell to convince him to sign off on cutting him with the team in first place at 5-2 and Vinny Testaverde out with a separated shoulder in ’93. The immortal Todd Philcox took over, fumbling the first snap of his first start, and the season degenerated from there. His drafts with Belichick were also spotty at best. Tommy Vardell #9 overall!? Steve Everitt and Eric Turner were good players.

    Then there’s his career since then: never lasting more than 2 or 3 years anywhere except the last 5 on TV. Plus there’s the fact that Belichick worked with him for 5 years in Cleveland but has never given a job in 13 in New England. THAT fact is all you need to know.

  26. Banner stuck his neck out to give his buddy Lombardi the GM job, so he can’t allow even the perception of Lombardi failing. He’ll take the hit when things go wrong because he’s somehow convinced Haslam that he’s the savior of the franchise. Meanwhile, Lombardi (as always) is shielded from the disaster that’s about to unfold in Cleveland over the next couple of years. It all works out for them for the next few years.

  27. autumnwind999 says:Mar 19, 2013 1:58 PM
    “Just curious: What is the source of the Lombardi resentment in Cleveland? I know he worked there before, but what did he do to tick fans off so bad?”

    Here’s the short version:

    Tony Grossi began hating Browns coach Bill Belichik in the old days, and still does, because Bill wouldn’t kiss Grossi’s media ring. Lombardi, who was on Bill’s staff, supported Bill and still does. It took on a life of its own.

    Grossi became bitter and pompous, and, lately, had to be let go by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for unprofessionalism.

    Ergo, Grossi, now with ESPN, still hates Lombardi, too. He smears Lombardi publicly every chance he gets, using as a cover Lombardi’s professional opinions about a couple of Browns players. Thus, the Browns haters and the usual ignoramuses who know only what they read in the media, fill these comment sections with their smarmy, childish remarks.

  28. Seldom1: Grossi is simply sticking up for anyone paying attention during the 90s. To suggest that it stems from Belichick doesn’t add up. Despite his mistakes in Cleveland, we can all agree that Belichick certainly learned from them and is a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach. One of the mistakes he DIDN’T repeat in New England was putting Mike Lombardi in charge of his personnel department.

  29. Autumnwind999,

    I think you covered it all. I’d add that he’s one of the most unpleasant people you’d ever want to meet. The man has zero tact and is the definition of an opportunist.

    He should continue drilling that crater deep hole at the factory of sadness that Browns fans are accustomed to.

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