New Browns G.M. Andrew Berry reportedly has final say over personnel decisions in Cleveland, a contractual term required to prevent the Eagles from blocking Berry’s departure. It’s clear, however, that coach Kevin Stefanski will have a voice in the process.
“Andrew is the General Manager and I am the head coach, but I can promise you in decisions as it pertains to personnel, I will be involved,” Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday. “We have had a dialogue already about that. . . . We have to make sure that we listen to the right people, but it is going to be Andrew and I, along with a bunch of really good people in this building, making those decisions.”
Those comments render somewhat vague the question of whether Berry truly has final say, a dynamic that came into play with the Browns more than a decade ago, when G.M. George Kokinis received final say on paper in order to justify hiring him from the Ravens but coach Eric Mangini reportedly dominated the decision-making process, culminating in a quick exit from Cleveland by Kokinis.
Stefanski also addressed the perception that Berry was the second choice for the job, behind Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton.
“Listen, [we had] three great candidates and I know a lot was made of George’s and my relationship,” said Stefanski, who worked with Paton for years in Minnesota. “He is a great friend of mine and will continue to be a great friend of mine, but I will promise you, what was important was getting the right man for this job and for the Cleveland Browns. I think Andrew, again, I could not be more excited to work on a day-to-day basis with him.”
That’s not a denial that Berry was the second choice. Regardless, Berry is the G.M. and Stefanski is the coach and it’s critical that everyone be on the same page, with shared and equal credit and accountability. Any other situation (i.e., the way the situation has been in Cleveland) invites key employees to start placing blame and seeking cover when adversity inevitably arrives.