Browns protest too much about Haslam’s role in Manziel pick


As more and more people throughout the league become convinced that owner Jimmy Haslam had a lot to do with the decision to use the 22nd pick in the 2014 draft on Johnny Manziel, the Browns are trying harder and harder to convince anyone and everyone that Haslam had nothing to do with it.

“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Jimmy Haslam at no point demanded, requested, tried to influence the process in any way,” Farmer told reporters after the draft concluded on Saturday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  “He definitely asked questions, he’ll definitely give his opinion of what he thinks and all of those things are fine.  But at the end of the day, he trusted the football staff to make the decisions that we thought were the right decisions for this football team.”

But here’s where the logic collapses onto itself.  Owning the team means not having to demand, request, or try to influence the process.  His mere involvement in the process necessarily will influence it, whether he tries to or not.

Anyone who has ever worked for someone, and who has managed to survive in that job, understands the dynamic.  Anything and everything the boss says needs to be analyzed for messages, whether the boss intends to send messages or otherwise.

If the boss mentions that he likes the smell of the new soap in the bathroom near the reception area, every bathroom in the building needs to have that soap in it.  If the boss mentions that he likes the leg room in the back seat of the vehicle that picked him up at the airport, that same vehicle needs to be used to take him wherever he wants to go.

The same thinking applies for an NFL team, if the owner has any involvement in the player-acquisition process.  Every question asked contains a message.  Every opinion articulated definitely sends a message.

As one league insider remarked to PFT this morning, “If Haslam mentioned this week that he had a good meal at Mexican restaurant, the buffet in the draft room would have been burritos and tacos.”

There’s no way Haslam can be involved in the process and not influence it.  The only way to truly not influence the process is to stay out of it completely.

In the end, the owner has the right to be involved.  But it’s foolish to expect the media and the fans to think that he didn’t influence it, especially when the team traded up for a potentially franchise-altering quarterback.

And if Farmer picked Manziel or anyone else in a way that ignored Haslam’s questions or conflicted with his opinions, Farmer had better hope that the team vindicates him with wins, or Farmer will be the next former G.M. who has a difficult time becoming a G.M. ever again.

92 responses to “Browns protest too much about Haslam’s role in Manziel pick

  1. So once people with know actual knowledge of the situation speculate about something it becomes true. And when the people who actually were in the room tell you why you’re wrong then they’re protesting too much. Got it.

  2. Good thing for Haslam then that he hired a yes-man that will do his bidding exactly the way he wants it done. Which is to diffuse this situation and throw out the perfunctory 100% statement, if he would have said 99% then that would have left room for us doubters. See he closed it all up tight and neat.

  3. Lerner gets criticized for being an absentee owner. Now the Browns actually have an owner who acts like he cares and its meddling all of a sudden. The local media wants to keep asking Trader Ray obviously he has to answer. If Haslem wasn’t asking questions is what would bother me.

  4. Any competent subordinate needs to be able to stand up to the boss. I’m something like 4th or 5th in the pecking order in my department at work and I give the director my straightforward opinion all the time, even when it isn’t in agreement with any of those above me.

    Knowing your stuff and sticking up for what you know is part of the job. Any job.

  5. I saw owners in the draft rooms of about every team they had cameras in… Way to try and create a controversy out of nothing… Which is all this dude does when it comes to the Browns.

  6. Weren’t Browns fans complaining a couple of years ago that their owner (Randy Lerner) didn’t care about the team and wasn’t involved at all? Makes one wonder if the fans are as much an employee of the “factory of sadness” as the actual organization is.

  7. LOL didn’t ESPN do a piece on how a homeless man told Haslem to pick Manziel????????????????????????????

    Yeah, but he wasn’t part of the process.

  8. I assume that there are owners in this league as there are in the other pro leagues who made their fortunes in business, law etc that think they have all the answers for their franchises. Money begets power etc. However, there are other owners who ask questions so that the organization thinks and looks at all the angles and possibilities. Those owners have the successful franchises. I do not know nor do I care how Haslam handles his franchise. He owns it. If the Browns do not win however Haslam better review completely how the organization is operated.

  9. Wow! You’re painting a picture that suggests all good NFL GM’s are butt kissers and yes men. That would be a sad state of affairs if true.

  10. Haslam: “We are at 26. Manziel is sitting there. Should we move up to take him?”

    Farmer: “I’ll make some calls.”

  11. I’m I the only one who thinks Manziel looks like Brownie the Elf, the old Browns logo?

  12. I have actually worked at plenty of places where no one would have lifted a finger to change the soap in the bathrooms because the boss mentioned that he liked the smell.

    Not every company in the world is run by an autocratic power mad lunatic. A good boss can be involved in a process without squelching the input of the people he’s hired to make decisions.

    If your trusted high level executives are terrified to tell you you’re wrong, your company is in trouble.

    And I always love the “they protest too much” argument. The media keeps asking the question over and over and over again, and since they keep answering it, that means they’re hiding something.

    If they said “no comment”, or “we’re not going to talk about that anymore”, that of course would also mean they are hiding something.

  13. The problem isn’t an owner who is involved (although it can be… ie Jerry Jones). The problem is an involved owner who appears to be taking his cues from the fans and/or the $$.

  14. Haslem is a business guy. I’m sure he is smart enough to hire the best subordinates to run his business. That being said, a GM is only as smart as his players are good, and all are judged by wins.

  15. A good employee tells the boss why the soap is different. Maybe its more expensive. Maybe its harsh and bad for people with sensitive skin. Maybe the employees didnt like the smell and they changed it everywhere else. And then you ask if the boss wants it changed. And a good boss doesnt insist on change to feed his ego.

    If Haslam insisted on getting Manziel they take him at 4.

  16. So what is being said is Donald Sterling shouldn’t have to sell the LA Clippers NBA franchise, the team which HE OWNS and has since 1981.

  17. I thought some “homeless guy” made the pick?
    Seriously, I’m glad Manziel is in the AFCN. The Steelers-Browns rivalry used to be the best. I can remember back in 1972, when the Steelers, after 40 years of futility, finally put it all together and won the AFC Central Division. I knew they were legit for one reason and one reason only: They beat the Browns TWICE that season. That was our measuring stick.
    Beating the Browns has become rather mundane, expected and boring. I’m pretty sure Manziel will make beating Cleveland a little more meaningful. It’s going to be FUN again.

  18. They drafted him bc Clevland needed a star QB that brought media attention and sell out crowds. Dont be suprised if he throws up numerous ints when he starts.

  19. Owners have the final say and that goes for all 32 NFL teams. Same as every other business in America and if you go against your owner’s wishes you won’t be working very long.

  20. True. But also be fair that Farmer has been repeatedly asked about Haslems involvement. Not like he is declaring his role.

  21. Factory of Sadness Seeking Redemption Now Run by Homeless Guy

    Wow. When all else fails, lean on roster management skills driven by an individual who sleeps buried in a blanket of newspapers under a bridge in a cardboard box.

  22. I think you’re splitting hairs here. There’s a big difference between an owner that voices his opinion and say… Jerry Jones.

    Also, it seems like you’re singling out the Browns as the only team who’s owner might want to voice his opinion to his staff about the future direction of his business.

    You say that the only way for an owner not to influence the process is to stay out of it completely? So you’re saying that the other 30 owners (not counting Jerry) kept their opinions to themselves and had no involvement in their team’s draft? Highly unlikely.

  23. Ugh! Give it a rest. He’s not Jerry Jones, but of course he’s going to have his opinions. He owns the team!

  24. The only problem I have is that they knew josh Gordon was high and they didn’t draft Sammy Watkins low.

  25. So what if Haslam had any say in drafting him. Its his team. He writes the checks! Its his right to have all the say in this just as much as any business owner has a say in how their business is run.

  26. ” … suggests all good NFL GMs are butt kissers … ”

    JJ must look like a pretzel.

  27. So even if the owner DID influence the decision it seems to be working………tickets sales through the roof, TV coverage all about the Browns, got an extra #1 for 2015……maybe Manziel works out…the Browns did a nice job on this……give them credit.

  28. I’m used to working for bosses or owners that would say, “Hey, what’s that soap? It smells good. Put it in all the bathrooms.” And lo, thy will be done, because you sign my check. Amen.

    Anyone would rather work for someone like that; you know where you stand. (Unless other factors, such as rotten attitudes, are involved.)

    Just saying. I think Haslem’s involvement is a non-issue. But when the boss speaks, you throw his opinion into the mix, even if you do have final say. And if he says “No, draft Manziel,” you do it anyway or quit or get fired on the spot.

  29. If and when manziel blows up, Connor Shaw could easily tKe the reigns. Well probably not, I’m really hoping Connor goes the Julian Edelman route, he could be a very productive slot receiver or catching passes out if the back field. The boy bleeds football.

  30. Look at the photo – Farmer is bigger and stronger and only lasted 3 seasons because of an injury. How many will Manziel last? Games that is.

  31. Stop the drama. We needed a QB. Period. Richardson and a 4th for Manziel? Gained an extra 1st, 4th, and 6th for 2015. Improved our seondary, line, and rb. Ray did well. Manziel makes plays. They wanted him all along. Actually made the Richardson trade after the entire front office viewed the A&M/Bama game last year. 21 teams made it possible before the move was made, and we didn’t give up a lot in the grand scheme of things.

  32. I don’t give a crap how we got The MANziel, we have the The MANziel.
    Come get you some.
    You can look but you can’t touch.
    The Browns are now must see tv.

  33. Ergo,…..all the other owners influenced not only their teams 1st round picks, but all the other rounds as well. What would you bozos write about if you didn`t create controversies where there are none?

  34. This reminds me of an article I read once about Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers and owner Mike Illitch: it is the GM’s job to make the owner happy. If Haslam even hinted that he wanted Manziel, then Farmer’s job is to go get him. Is it a sound football decision? No, but that’s not Farmer’s job ultimately.

  35. 32 wanted him 1 got him TFB for the 31 .Welcome to Cleveland Johnny kick azz and take names.Win games that’s all you have to do.

  36. The media at large are experts on everything. That’s who gets American politicians elected after all. There’s a good distance from a Jerry Jones and an owner who’s simply involved and interested in the the team he owns. I remember when people in the media said Randy Lerner wasn’t involved enough. What’s the perfect balance? I’d rather have it this way.

  37. Everyone in the Browns draft war room is on Jimmy Haslem’s payroll. As such, they all want to keep him happy.
    Despite numerous attempts to find a decent QB, Cleveland has not been successful to date. Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Charlie Frye, Colt McCoy, Derek (Horse balls) Anderson, Tim Couch, – there are too many to remember. The solution to this is to keep on trying until they find one.
    Johnny Football (JFF) is the latest cab on the rank. Yes, Jimmy probably didn’t hide that he liked JFF, but he could be good and it’s worth a try to reinvigorate the fans.

  38. The Browns (contrary to impression IMPLIED by the writer) are not running around telling anyone who will listen that Haslam wasn`t involved. They are telling everyone who ASKS that he wasn`t involved. Who`s asking ?…..the media, of course.

  39. He owns the team, so why lie? How do you forget the “homeless guy lie” on one hand and pretend he had no say, on the other.

    It can’t be both. Why lie, it’s his team. Just admit it or is he practicing for his court date?

  40. Haslam was once spotted talking to Jerry Jones, so…. we can infer from that JJ told him to jump in any time he wants, just to troll the GM.

  41. It’s his team and he’s interested in knowing what’s going on. Most owners don’t need to buy teams to make money, they do it because they like football. There’s a reason they’re all billionaires before getting involved in football.

    If the owner of the team, a fan of football, has a question then what’s the big deal? Not every owner is Jerry Jones who wants direct input on every decision.

  42. If any of our bosses tells us, “I really, really want X, but don’t let that affect your decision.” What are the chances he’ll get X?

    Is there a percentage about 100%?

  43. Case in point….jimmy mentioned to his folks that he liked rebates and we know how that turned out.

  44. Why is it an issue if Haslem did have something to do with it? So what, he is the owner of the team! The media can never say anything positive about the decisions of the Browns management! I think we are heading in the right direction.

  45. Who cares about Manziel or Michael Sam not too many I am sure? Let’s quit with them both.

  46. The Brown gained some more pick & w/Manziel dropping, saw an opportunity to move back in and get him. It was a good value pick whether or not you like Manziel-and whether or not the owner had anything to do with it. I’m guessing if the owner really wanted Manziel that bad, he would have been drafted w/their first first round pick.
    Unfortunately though, Cleveland is where QB’s go to die.

  47. If you average together where every draftnik estimated Manziel should go, 22 is about that average.

    This is a non-story. Browns took a QB about where he was “supposed” to go. It isn’t a go0d/bad pick. Sure later people can use hindsight to say whether this was a brilliant or terrible move.

    But for now, it was a pretty run of the mill selection. Not a reach. Not a steal.

  48. Hey PFT,

  49. They paid 100,000 on an Analytics process to determine the best QB. After all the Analytics were processed, it said that Bridgewater was the best QB in the class and they went against the report. So who do you think told them to go against the report?

  50. If so, whats the big deal? Its his team so can’t an owner do what he wants?

    How about Jerry Jones? Why the kid gloves and hands off treatment of Jones?

    Manziel was the top player on the Cowboys’ board and ninny Jones passed up on his top available player because he didn’t want Romo to get beat out and lose his starting job to Manziel? That’s so wrong when Jones should be trying to field the best team possible instead of worrying about hurting Romo’s feelings. Cowboys fans should be crushing Jones for his unwillingness to get the best players for his team.

  51. I love the media. You ask somebody “Is it true?” “No, it isn’t.” “But the owner was there!” “So?”

    What a lame story. The lack of any evidence to suggest Haslam made the pick means Haslam made the pick. Did Haslam make all the trades, too? Then why were GMs calling for “Trader Ray”? And is Haslam really was all that influential, why didn’t he just pick Manziel at 4? When a GM trades down from 4, you can’t tell me the owner is the one really making the deal.

    Lastly, considering the Vikings were trying to also trade with Philly at 22 to get Manziel (according to some actual non-denied stories), sounds like Manziel went in the right spot. So what is the problem? Browns got Manziel and a high pick in the 2015 draft. And a great CB. Nice work.

  52. Half of the NFL fans in NE Ohio are now Steelers fans. If the Browns owner is going to pick the players, the other half will be joining them.

  53. I thought the browns did good to get Manziel where they did. Not sure why everybody hates the browns draft, and the browns. Manziel makes average receivers look good with his out of the pocket ability.

    Key word though, (Pocket). Can Johnny Football contain those happy feet and be a pocket passer when he has too? If he can learn, he will be a star.

    I think he starts this year, and will do well with the tools that have made him successful. Browns, 8-8.

  54. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an owner demanding the team drafts a certain player. Many people around football has an irrational dislike of Johnny Football, so they question the Brown’s decision to pick him at the #22 spot in the first round. The truth is that if the Browns didn’t take him, then it is almost certain that one of the next few teams would. In fact, the Seahawks would probably have taken him. They are losing players because of tight cap space and they face the prospect of losing even more players when Russell Wilson’s contract is up. By picking Manziel, they can avoid having to pay Wilson $15-20 million a year. Manziel is as good a running qb as Wilson and a better passer. So, hats off to the Brown’s owner if he was smart enough to tell his team to pick Manziel. Besides, a team’s front office picks players to keep the team competitive. They would indeed be fired if they did not pick Manziel and he ends up being a hall of fame qb.

  55. Where QB’s go to bust……………………Cleveland. Thanks Cleveland the rest of the league owe you a standing ovation for getting the bust off the board so our teams wont fall for the Johnny Foosball hype. We don’t need a me first guy to poison our locker rooms. Manziel not the type of guy that will put in the extra time that it takes to be the face of franchise, Manziel needs to be seen and needs all the Attention focus on him. Just by the way he came out rubbing his fingers together. Meaning where’s the money. Most QB’s would have a chip on their shoulder and want to beat every team that passed him up, Not Johnny Foosball as he hurried himself to get to Cleveland to sell his autograph Picture of him and some hunny’s sipping drinks at the clubs. It figures Lebron and Manziel will be hanging out, as Johnny waits to play out his contract or force a trade to be closer to his buddy Lebron. Manziel looked upset that Cleveland drafted him. Instead of being excited was on the phone to his agent to see if this going to effect any of his endorsement deals.

  56. The irony in all of this is if Manziel really was the player Jerry Jones wanted to draft 7 places earlier. While Jerry is GM and does have the power to make the decision he elected to draft Zack Martin and received positive feedback across the country for making a logical, sensible decision. However, in his heart he probably wanted to draft Johnny Football. This was a really big decision and Jerry may live to regret it.
    Jimmy Haslem got the player he wanted without having the GM title like Jerry holds.

  57. As the fan of a division rival, I’d appreciate the Browns always listening to the owner over the football guys he hired to run the team. On the better teams, the football guys make the decisions and the owner signs the checks and signs off on trades. It’s that way for pretty much every playoff team and title winner in recent memory, last year no exception.

    Consider the team with the owner that makes the most football decisions: The Cowboys and Jerry Jones. No one gets more crap than that guy as far as owners go. I’m far from the only one who thinks the Cowboys don’t win another title until he stops making the football decisions. I think history shows he’s hasn’t been very good at it for the last decade+. Don’t go down that road, Cleveland. I think Manziel might even turn out to be a good player, too. The point still remains.

  58. The Manziel pick sold a lot of season tickets. The very next day, Josh Gordon is suspended for the year. Ticket holders just lost a lot of money.

    Browns fan: “Hey lets get season tickets! I think we can win seven games this year!”

    Reality: without Josh Gordon, Browns win maybe four games.

    Good news: They have the Bills first pick next year. Now the Browns will have two picks in the top 5.

  59. Get back to us when you acquire actual knowledge that Haslam hinted at, called for or otherwise influenced the pick. Until then, this is all just smart-sounding click-bait.

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