Report: Haslam let guests in Browns’ draft room to see him pick Manziel

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Jimmy Haslam has fired a lot of people during his tenure as owner of the Browns. Some of those people are now dishing on the dysfunction in Cleveland.

In an explosive new story by Seth Wickersham of ESPN, multiple unnamed sources go off on the Browns, and specifically on Haslam, who continues to look inept six and a half years after buying the team.

We’ll have plenty to say about the story, but here’s one interesting detail: Haslam has, according to the report, angered the football people by inviting friends, family and corporate sponsors into the draft room, while the draft is going on. Specifically, the report says Haslam wanted to draft Johnny Manziel in 2014, and “the war room was packed with Haslam’s guests” to see it happen.

The report indicates that the football people liked Teddy Bridgewater, but that “something about Bridgewater’s handshake rubbed Haslam the wrong way.”

In fairness to Haslam, that’s exactly what a disgruntled ex-employee would say: The football people will always try to claim that they wanted to draft the better player, and that the owner forced them to draft the lesser player for non-football reasons.

But the Browns have made so many mistakes, and Haslam has been the constant through all of them, that it’s not hard to believe he really has been the problem. The Browns appear to have finally made the right pick when they chose Baker Mayfield last year. Maybe John Dorsey was finally the G.M. who got Haslam to keep his hands off.

78 responses to “Report: Haslam let guests in Browns’ draft room to see him pick Manziel

  1. The football people will always try to claim that they wanted to draft the better player

    Yeah but in this case is Bridgewater really the better player? Sure, he’s not a troublemaker, but the reality is they’re both busts. Now someone will play the “his injury ruined his career” card but the truth is he wasn’t doing very good before the injury.

  2. “Something about Bridgewater’s handshake rubbed Haslam the wrong way.” Namely, Teddy Bridgewater, who, by all accounts, is a decent man beloved by his teammates, probably gave Haslam a square, straight-up handshake that Haslam couldn’t deal with because he could sense that Teddy is a decent guy. He and Manziel probably made up some ridiculous extended super-secret just-between-us-cool-rich-guys handshake that left them giggling.

    I believe this story 100%. Months before the 2014 draft, during the 2013 season, it was speculated how much Haslam LOVED Johnny Manziel. So it came as no shock to anybody in Cleveland when it happened. The homeless story was probably made up, to demonstrate how Jimmy “listens” to regular folks. It makes much more sense that Jimmy and his meddling ego would insist on having friends and acquaintances in the room for his crowning achievement. It soon came out that the Browns paid $100K for a study that indicated that the Browns should take Bridgewater, but they ignored it. Jimmy’s hero Johnny did everything he could to throw egg on Haslam’s face over that pick. Hopefully Jimmy has been humiliated enough to let John Dorsey, whom he unbelieveably lucked into, make all decisions with his staff from now on. When I think about drafting Manziel, it makes me want to vomit all over again.

  3. A lot of owners have friends and buddies in the draft room. That’s not unusual. Drafting Teddy Bridgewater might have gotten them to 6-10. The football people were just as bad. Imagine lining up all 32 owners. Now go down the line. See what I mean. Jimmy Haslam doesn’t look that bad at all. Put a draft board together of all 32 owners and give them grades. How many would you take in the first round?

  4. The report indicates that the football people liked Teddy Bridgewater, but that “something about Bridgewater’s handshake rubbed Haslam the wrong way.”

    ——————————————————————

    This and the homeless guy endorsement really added to Haslam’s legend in Ohio lol

  5. Damn it….why didn’t they take Teddy? It would have been better so MN could have looked elsewhere. Oh well, we ended up getting rid of Teddy so it all worked out in the end.

  6. Not to defend Haslam in any way, but he isn’t responsible for all the mistakes made by the Browns. If he owned the team from 1999 onward you could blame him but he only bought the team about 7 years ago. There’s more wrong than can be blamed on Haslam, don’t forget.

    On another note, Bridgewater’s handshake was probably too strong, people with strong hands can sometimes grip too hard. I’ve had plenty of people squish the bones in my hand on top of each other because they grip too hard during a handshake, can’t see Haslam liking that kind of thing.

  7. The NFL is littered with owners who don’t know what they’re doing but think they do. Someone wrote an article about it years ago; these are all guys who are successful, hands on, business men. They think they can bring their business savvy into the NFL and it’ll all work out fine. It rarely does. (See Browns former front office structure.) But it can take a while for them to swallow their egos and figure that out.
    I wanted to think Haslam had understood it before he got to Cleveland, but evidently he didn’t. I’m just glad he seems to have finally gotten it. The best owners are the ones who get their teams what they need, not the ones who think they know what the team needs.

  8. What’s with the hate on Teddy B? He was progressing nicely until his leg got bent the wrong way & basically exploded his knee. He was just starting his 3rd year. How good should he have been at that point? Not everyone is Patrick Mahomes. He was lightyears ahead of Johnny Manziel though.

  9. Honestly, if I paid a billion dollars for something, I’m gonna do whatever I want with it. It’s cute that “football” people think the team draft room belongs to them – but really, I just forked over $1.05 BILLION of my money.

    Be true to yourself, every single one of us here would do the exact same thing if given the chance.

  10. All you need to know about Haslam are two word: Hue Jackson. 3-36-1. The Browns had the worst 2 years an NFL team has ever had with Jackson at head coach. And yet he got a chance to have a 3rd year. After he was fired, the Browns went 5-3. Speaks volumes.

  11. “In an explosive new story by Seth Wickersham of ESPN, multiple unnamed sources go off on…”

    Every single article, rinse and repeat. I have no doubt Cleveland is/was dysfunctional, but how many times can this guy and Don Van Natta promise total anonymity and zero accountability to every “source” with a grudge?

  12. “savethebs says:
    January 24, 2019 at 9:10 am
    What’s with the hate on Teddy B? He was progressing nicely until his leg got bent the wrong way & basically exploded his knee. He was just starting his 3rd year. How good should he have been at that point? Not everyone is Patrick Mahomes. He was lightyears ahead of Johnny Manziel though.”

    He had 28 TD’s in 28 career starts his first two years. In his second season, he had 6 games where he had zero touchdown passes. He was barely a game manager. A guy like Andy Dalton was better than Bridgewater at the same point in his career and is labeled as mediocre. What does that make Bridgewater?

    There is this weird romanticism around Bridgewater. Somehow his not playing the past three seasons has made people believe he is a good QB, which he has never been.

  13. “Maybe John Dorsey was finally the G.M. who got Haslam to keep his hands off.”

    Even if he is, it won’t last. These types of owners get bored after a very short while and put their hands right back on, while also firing the people who got them to take their hands off in the first place. Dorsey will be gone in three years or less and replaced by someone who enables the owner. Trust me. I know how this works. I’m a Redskins fan.

  14. Jimmy Haslam may be viewed by many as the worst owner in the league, but Son-of-Al with my Raiders is worse than Haslam.

  15. hailtothenamechange says: “Even if he is, it won’t last. These types of owners get bored after a very short while and put their hands right back on, while also firing the people who got them to take their hands off in the first place.”
    ====================

    No one knows if Haslam has been “hands off” with Dorsey. For all we know, Haslam is still directly involved with every football move and somehow gotten it right (or just damn lucky).

    If you bought a Ferrari 488GTB for $350k, are you going to hire a professional driver to drive around for you or are you going to take it for a spin yourself? People forget that these owners bought the teams as a toy for themselves. Making money and having tons of fans is great, but really, the joy is running your own real-life fantasy team.

  16. Not another Wickersham article. It was Loggains who was tasked with working out all the QBs that year and ranking them. His top pick was Manziel. Loggains was on the phone with Manziel before the Browns picked him.
    Tony Grossi made up a story that Bridgewater name was on the draft card submitted by the Browns. Guess everyone left their common sense at the door because teams contact their draft picks before drafting them. That didn’t stop a media firestorm and a fake story that went on for days even after Loggains explained what went on.

  17. Didn’t like Bridgewater because his handshake rubbed him the wrong way, but was excited about Manziel. With leadership like this it is no wonder that team is a joke. Granted Teddy is not the best QB ever drafted but he is a nice guy and wont rub the entire team the wrong way.

  18. I believe Jimmy Haslam is still very concerned with the ongoing federal probe into the pilot/Flying gas rebate scandal.I think Jimmy is now more focused on that issue and is letting Dorsey run the Browns.Too many people made plea agreements with the Feds for that case to be settled.

  19. Charliecharger:
    Jimmy Haslam doesn’t look that bad at all.

    You have seen his teams record since he bought the team…right?

  20. I think it was Jason La Canfora who reported maybe 6 months after they drafted Manziel that Haslam made them draft him. He made that call.

    Frankly, Mike Pettine got a raw deal. Pettine was doing fine as a HC and got railroaded out of town because of Haslam’s interference, saddling him with that disaster of a pick.

  21. Really, there’s no difference between Manziel and Bridgewater. Look at every past draft of all the busted QBs in the first round.

    All of them were rated at the top (ie Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were at the time 1A and 1B). Then you have guys like Brady, Romo and Kurt Warner slipping through the cracks.

    You roll the dice and hope it works out.

  22. The football people will always try to claim that they wanted to draft the better player

    Yeah but in this case is Bridgewater really the better player? Sure, he’s not a troublemaker, but the reality is they’re both busts. Now someone will play the “his injury ruined his career” card but the truth is he wasn’t doing very good before the injury.

    Mike Zimmer said in press conference in the the beginning of this year that he thought Teddy would be the QB for the rest of his career in Minni. The kid was doing a great job and getting better under Norv Turner before his horrible injury. Sean Payton must see something to trade for him and if anyone is using the one game he played in this year as a sample of his talent then you are ignorant.

  23. How bad teams stay bad and good teams stay good- starts from the top and filters down through the organization onto the field. Hoping for their fans, the Browns are turning things around.

  24. It’s really a shame that the only criteria for owning a professional sports team is having enough money.

  25. I don’t get all the Bridgewater commentary. We don’t know WHAT he is (or would have been) as a QB because of the injury. He was “not horrible” the year prior to the injury and he seemed to be ascending. Then he got “Kirked” and they ran him outta town.

  26. His being a bonehead is not really new news but this is the cherry on the cake for anyone already convinced he was 100% responsible for Manziel.

    He appears to have learned a lesson though. And his wife, more involved lately, seems pretty sharp. As long as he shuts up, writes checks, and stays out of Dorsey’s way, all is well.

  27. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t much better than Manziel. 2014 was a terrible draft for QBs. Ryan Tannehill was taken number 8 overall. Blake Bortles number 3 overall.

    Yikes!

  28. Oh can we please stop it with the Manziel vs Teddy talk ~ Most of us knew Manziel had issues that would get him kicked out of the NFL ~There were things leading up to the draft folks ~Teddy was clean cut but couldn’t throw without his glove ~That was a proven fact and it’s why he wore a glove as a Viking~

    Not one person knew for sure that Teddy would be the best QB between the two or in the draft as a whole ~ But we knew Manziel would\could be the next Ryan Leaf ~ We did know there was a {{{ good chance }}} that Teddy could easily be a good NFL QB with room to improve and anything else would be a bonus ~ And that’s the kind of QB you hope to land at 32 ~ No one in the NFL is saying to themselves ~ Man I can’t wait to draft a QB on the end of the 1st or top of the 2nd round ~ Most of the better QB’s are taken in the first 15 pick ~ Most

  29. Why are we acting like the Browns would have been much better had they drafted Bridgewater? The Vikings had a much better team and before his injuries he was average at best, probably a 20-25 ranked QB. Put him in Cleveland, a team with less talent and more dysfunction, he’d have been a bust as well.

    Yes, the Manziel decision was stupid, but Teddy wasn’t the savior.

  30. Mayfield’s got real talent as a QB, but he and Manziel have somewhat similar personalities; brash, loudmouth kids. Which Haslam apparently sees as confidence and leadership ability.
    So maybe he picked Mayfield as well; I think he did. Which means more fuel on the fire……

  31. Ive said it for years, I’ll say it again… The two primary owners since the Team formed in ’99 are both heirs to great fortunes who themselves know little to nothing about assembling, let alone running world class organizations. Lerner, and now Haslam, are both guys who inherited massive piles of cash and somehow think they’re way better at what they do that they really are. I hope (lordy do hope) that the tides have shifted and Haslam now knows enough to let Dorsey and the football people be. I suspect that Dee Haslam has inserted herself into his affairs in recent years as her name has come up frequently recently and I also suspect her business and personal acumen is considerably superior to his. Let’s all hope that our long civic nightmare is finally coming to an end.

  32. akira1971 says:
    January 24, 2019 at 9:20 am
    Honestly, if I paid a billion dollars for something, I’m gonna do whatever I want with it. It’s cute that “football” people think the team draft room belongs to them – but really, I just forked over $1.05 BILLION of my money.

    Be true to yourself, every single one of us here would do the exact same thing if given the chance.
    _____________________________________________
    Really? Here’s what I would do. I’d hire a GM that I trusted to make good decisions that would help increase the value of the enormous investment that I made for $1 billion dollars. I’d let the “football” people do their jobs away from “non-football” people because that’s how people work, with informed and educated professionals in their field. I would try to emulate everything that the current successful franchises have done in the past and are currently doing. Would all of “us” be a Jimmy Haslam or a Jerry Jones? No, not those who maintain their values and remained humble in the face of financial success.

  33. The question that hasn’t been answered is why was Loggains so involved in the decision? He was the QB coach but Kyle Shanahan was the OC. Shanahan’s name isn’t mentioned in the selection of Manziel.

  34. Listen, if I’m the owner of the team I will bring anyone I want to the draft room. You can bet that you will see my college buddies there, having a few beers that I have provided for them. With that said, I would let the football people draft the players. The Johnny Football pick was the worst. But, it took those mistakes to make Haslam hire Dorsey and we are in a very good place with Dorsey.

  35. Bridgewater and Manziel were about the same. Both were backup type QB’s. Good enough to start in a pinch, as a backup should be, but not an elite guy by any stretch. I wouldn’t have wanted either one. Why draft a backup? Try to draft starters as your backup, like Nick Foles, Kurt Warner, or Tom Brady. Guys that are good enough to win if the starter gets hurt.

  36. WHAT!? Guests in the draft room!? Unheard of!!! hahahahaha

    While I’m not a Browns fan – they are definitely on the upswing, its unclear to me why we get idiot stories like this trying to discredit franchises.

  37. Yawn. Bridgewater was mediocre for the Vikings yet ya’ll have declared him as the GOAT. The Brownies needed to get the pieces in places for QB success, starting with RBs, OL, and WR. They did that then drafted Mayfield. Smart.
    Plus Bridgewater has an elongated release which = SLOW.
    Manziel was a dumpster fire even before he was drafted but ALL players are risks…case in point JaMarcus Russell.
    The pundits ALL said he was the GOAT-to-be, plus he’s black so that’s more bonus PC points. But he’s an SEC QB, those QBs rarely succeed in the NFL.

  38. I’ve read that the two top choices for some coaches and scouts of the Browns weren’t Bridgewater or Manziel. It was Carr or Garoppolo.

  39. Do other owners bring in their buddies, family members, corporate sponsors into draft rooms as well? However, I’m sure not many other owners meddle into draft and football operations the way Haslam and Jerry Jones do.

  40. pensfan1 says:
    January 24, 2019 at 11:52 am
    It’s only fair non-football people be involved. After all it was a homeless guy that “made” the pick anyway.
    ————-
    Never heard that before. Thanks for posting.

  41. Ive said it for years, I’ll say it again… The two primary owners since the Team formed in ’99 are both heirs to great fortunes who themselves know little to nothing about assembling, let alone running world class organizations. Lerner, and now Haslam, are both guys who inherited massive piles of cash and somehow think they’re way better at what they do that they really are…..
    Actually Haslam inherited one truck stop and turned it into the billion dollar company it is now. He bought the Browns for 987 million. Currently worth 1.95 billion. Pretty good for a six year investment. As far as the product on the field, don’t watch if you don’t like it. I don’t care how much you love the team, It’s not yours. Goes for all fans that cry and complain.

  42. 1950giantsfan says:
    January 24, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Two articles that clearly show this owner should stick to ripping off people on gas.
    ———————

    He moved on to a better scam, ripping off football fans. They take it year after year after year, and they don’t sue.

  43. granadafan says:
    January 24, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Do other owners bring in their buddies, family members, corporate sponsors into draft rooms as well? However, I’m sure not many other owners meddle into draft and football operations the way Haslam and Jerry Jones do.
    —————–

    Jerry is also the GM.

  44. masterofmydomain2017 says:
    January 24, 2019 at 12:39 pm
    Ive said it for years, I’ll say it again… The two primary owners since the Team formed in ’99 are both heirs to great fortunes who themselves know little to nothing about assembling, let alone running world class organizations. Lerner, and now Haslam, are both guys who inherited massive piles of cash and somehow think they’re way better at what they do that they really are…..
    Actually Haslam inherited one truck stop and turned it into the billion dollar company it is now. He bought the Browns for 987 million. Currently worth 1.95 billion. Pretty good for a six year investment. As far as the product on the field, don’t watch if you don’t like it. I don’t care how much you love the team, It’s not yours. Goes for all fans that cry and complain.
    ——————–

    If there weren’t any fans, there wouldn’t be any teams. If you don’t like seeing sports fans cry and complain, stay out of the comments.

  45. I’m a Browns fan, this stuff is all old news. Why bring it up 3-4 years or more after the fact. We’ve heard it all before. The Browns have turned it around, I guess some people just get their jollies off by criticizing the Browns. Put it to bed already, find something more pertinent to write.

  46. phinfan says:
    January 24, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    John Dorsey is probably paying a marketing agency to put out that he is god and his owner is a douche.
    ———————

    Everyone already knows that Haslam is a douche, so he would waste his money.

  47. As far as Baker Mayfield. A close friend of Hue Jackson works in the media in Cincinnati. He reported, at the time of the draft, that Jackson pushed the Browns to draft Mayfield at #1 and Dorsey wanted to take S. Barkley at 1 and the best QB left with the 4th pick. That’s right Hue Jackson is the one that pushed for Baker to be the 1st pick. The media has about everything that went on in Cleveland over the last several years wrong.

  48. Makes more sense then Wickersham. Thought the Browns were looking for an offensive minded head coach in order to solve their QB woes.

    Former head coach Hue Jackson was a coveted candidate back in the off-season following the 2015 regular season. Adam Gase and Jackson were believed to be, in some order, the best available. Ownership had been overly loyal to the coach until he was fired last week.

    According to Robert Klemko of SI.com, Jimmy Haslam supported Jackson. The football operations crew, known for their analytical approach, had two other candidates in mind.

    “According to two sources with knowledge of former GM Sashi Brown’s tenure, the choice of Jackson was not unanimous. Jackson was Haslam’s man, while Sean McDermott and Matt Patricia had support from those running football operations. Several members of that staff, including an analytics department led by [Chief Strategy Officer] Paul DePodesta, remain in Berea, reporting directly to Haslam—notably, not [General Manager John] Dorsey. Haslam, who directed both the Jackson hire and the drafting of [quarterback Johnny] Manziel, has given Dorsey no assurances he’ll go with the new GM’s recommendation, according to the two league sources,” Klemko wrote.

  49. Joe Banner spent a 100 grand on a QB study (weird how 5 years ago that seemed like a lot). Study and the firm doing it said draft Bridgewater. It was the Browns first real soiree into analytics. This was probably a precursor for guys like Depodesta to come aboard.
    Teams now would probably would pay several million for that kind of study now. Since then every team that already didn’t have a department solely dedicated to this field has adopted an analytics department doing just this for every selection and spending millions every year.

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