Aug 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during a preseason game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Browns: Johnny Manziel puts Jimmy Haslam in awkward position

With rare exception, the less people hear from a team’s owner, the better.  The owners that people can run off with little thought generally include the worst ones; Jerry Jones, Daniel Snyder, and Mike Brown.  Short of holding up a trophy, the less they are involved, the better.  Some people know Bob Craft’s name or the Rooneys in Pittsburgh, but far fewer know Jed York (San Francisco 49ers), Paul Allen (Seattle Seahawks) or Steve Bisciotti (Baltimore Ravens).  The most recent submission from Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in regards to Johnny Manziel was another example of why owners should avoid publicity when he delivered the message that Manziel would have to earn the starting quarterback job, and in so doing, also gave credibility to the theory that he demanded the pick.

Haslam’s camp proved terrible at keeping a secret during the draft season and it became common knowledge that he wanted Manziel.  Some of the local media ran with the story late in the process, suggesting that Haslam would order general manager Ray Farmer to make the pick.  Now, the contrived story about Manziel texting the Browns to come get him has some people believing that it caused Haslam to again go get Manziel, which resulted in the Browns pushing to get Manziel, ultimately with the 22nd pick, moving up from 26.  This has even prompted a story pushed by people from Tony Grossi  to Dan Patrick that charges the Browns with having written Teddy Bridgewater’s name down on the card and then changing it to Manziel at the last minute per Haslam’s order.

All of these stories ask fans and random onlookers to believe that the Browns changed their plans at the last minute to bring in Manziel.  The same people who did not alter their plans with about two weeks notice that Josh Gordon had another drug test issue coming that could result in a substantial suspension and did not select a single wide receiver in the draft in response.  So, while both circumstances could be true, they represent two completely different lines of thinking.

Whether Haslam felt the pressure because of the perception that he was the driving force behind the team getting Manziel or he just felt like getting involved on his own accord, it was Haslam, rather than head coach Mike Pettine, who came out and announced to The Plain Dealer:

Brian Hoyer is the starting quarterback. It’s his job to lose.”

“We were frank with (Manziel) on Friday that’s the expectation, you’re the backup quarterback,” Haslam said. “This is a hard-working, blue-collar town, this isn’t Hollywood. We want you to come in and go to work.”

Did Haslam feel compelled to be the to come out and lay out this decree because of perception that he ordered the pick?  The fact that Haslam came out and laid out this decree at least gives credibility to that idea and helps feed into the idea that he did in fact demand Manziel, whether it is true or not.

The announcement from Haslam caused the national media to be extremely critical of the Browns owner, a growing trend that seems to come with every move Haslam makes on a national stage.  Haslam’s best move was to just leave it alone and let his head coach make the call.  The less Haslam is involved in football operations, the better for everyone involved, but especially with something like playing time and role of a player.  It opens him up for obvious criticism as an owner that is potentially meddling.

Haslam is passionate about winning and seems to be doing everything in his power to get the Browns to a point where they can be the consistent winner he wants, but he needs to find the right balance and get out of his own way.  One can hope that this is the last time Haslam desires in the draft become public, the last time that he represents a separate voice in the building, and the last time he makes any kind of announcement about a player on the roster.  There is nothing to suggest Haslam will actually do any of these things to this point, but he would be smart to just wait until there is a trophy to hold up the next time he has a sound byte.

Next Browns Game View full schedule »
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Cleveland Browns Jimmy Haslam Johnny Manziel

  • Richard Ciesielski

    The media might think hes doing wrong but if people felt that way tickets wouldn’t be selling, or jerseys now would they ? Most people I think would agree with me that by his saying things it shows he cares. You might feel like the road to hell is paved with good intentions but I don’t think Haslam did anything bad by getting a player who WANTED to be here, especially one with talent. I wasn’t fond of not getting a WR in the draft but they have brought on a lot of them to compete for spots on the team and thats what we want. If anything by not caving into impulsive picks and focusing on need in other psoitions like getting Gilbert, Farmer is letting players know its not a one man show whether your name is Gordon, Mack, Gilbert of Manziel. Its a good idea to build a fierce team, its better than having a few people who stand out more as targets than talent on a field in a sport where injuries happen even in practice as well as the playing field

    • Pete Smith

      This is meaningless rhetoric. Colt McCoy wanted to play here. Brian Hoyer wants to play here. If Manziel proves to be a bust, no one will care that he wanted to play here.

      As for ticket and jersey sales, people bought both with Randy Lerner in charge as well. There are plenty of terrible owners that have fan support. That does not make them any less of a bad owner.

      To this point, Jimmy Haslam has not proven he is anything short of a bad owner. He played the ‘rookie owner’ card before, but he’s still making rookie mistakes. Any time someone asks about playing time or anything player related, defer to your head coach.

      • Richard Ciesielski

        McCoy didn’t strike me as being that close to trainers here that of all the people to call on their draft day he called a trainer of a team everyone wants to pass on playing for. Manziel did.I’m not on his band wagon, but I’m not a hater. I like Hoyer because to me he’s a local guy. I think that if he has the talent to stay a starter he won’t want to move away from here. I watched Manziel talk about how he’s going to be here for the next three or four years and that doesn’t sit well with me, its like Labron but different, they both have talent but its a bummer to think people are just going to be here only because of the money. I’ve herd people say its not your first contract that matters its your second, but maybe because I’m poor but if I was going to get 18 here and be happy or make 22 million and have to move and readjust.. I’m a homer, if I’d already know I’m going to be making millions a few more won’t help me,
        I liked McCoy but for years I wanted other quarterbacks that we didn’t get. I’ve been on here to saying to people to that Hoyer can’t be counted out. Its funny about the ticket sales, since it came out about Gordon you don’t hear the chat about ticket sales now, with the jerseys it makes sense to me that people would by new ones. People were probably so bent with Weeden they burned the ones they had. I don’t count Haslam as a bad owner. To me a bad owner gives up on owning the team or moves them. Bad owners don’t try and instill a “play like a Brown” attitude either, so we’ll agree to disagree on that one and on it being pointless rhetoric. If your a fan anytimes a good time to build them up or hack them down, and I’d rather build them up.

        • Sam Gold


  • Joe

    Rookie mistakes made in his 3rd year cost Greg Little a roster spot.
    Jimmy Haslam is making rookie mistakes in his 3rd year as owner.
    He was not ready to be an owner, and to his credit, he knew it and hired Joe Banner.
    Then he went too far and brought in Mike Lombardi.
    Then he meddled.
    Then he fired Chud and staff because Harbaugh was a sure thing.
    Then he fired Banner and Lombardi because Harbaugh was not a sure thing, he was no thing.
    Now, he’s being blamed for the Manziel pick, but other teams wanted Johnny, Johnny was high on the Browns’ list of prospects, no QB was clearly better, and so it happened with or without Haslam’s, alleged edict.
    Jimmy has been humiliated all over American and is a whipping boy at this point, but he’s not a bad guy, knows and loves football, and is dedicated to creating a winning team in Cleveland.
    He needs to learn how far to trust people under him, and if he over-involves himself, who can blame him after his business problems, and the Harbaugh-Chudzinski affair orchestrated by Banner & Lombardi.
    It may be messy, Peter, but this is the best roster I have seen in Cleveland since Bernie Kosar was playing QB, and Bill Belichick was coaching.
    It could be a great season.

  • Sam Gold

    Good call. He’ll learn…we hope.

  • Sam McGowan

    Are you kidding me? Haslam is in an awkward position because he’s under investigation by the Federal government. He’ll be lucky to stay out of jail. Rather than worrying about what Haslam says to the media, they ought to be worrying about who the new owner will be.