Five amazingly stupid myths about the Cleveland Browns

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and strong safety Chuck Clark (36) defend during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and strong safety Chuck Clark (36) defend during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
CLEVELAND, OHIO – NOVEMBER 24: Team owner Dee Haslam of the Cleveland Browns talks with guests on the sidelines while wearing a hat supporting defensive end Myles Garrett #95 prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Browns Myth No. 1: Dee Haslam is not running the Cleveland Browns

The second smartest decision Jimmy Haslam III made in his life was to acquiesce to allow Dee Bagwell Haslam to have the ultimate authority of Haslam Sports Group, which includes ownership of the Cleveland Browns. Dee is much more introverted than her ultra-friendly, outgoing husband, but she is a brilliant organizer. The smartest decision JH3 ever made, of course, is to marry Dee.  Every successful married man will readily agree on what the best decision of their life was.

Although everyone knows that JH3 is the CEO of Pilot Oil, Dee was the Founder and Executive Producer of the RIVR Media companies, which made television shows for 21 different networks and was nominated for Emmy Awards eight separate times. Do not think Dee’s role is simply to be Mrs. Haslam. That’s so embarrassingly misinformed, especially when the national media makes this mistake. Correspondence from the team is always signed “Dee and Jimmy Haslam” NOT “Jimmy and Dee Haslam.” There is a reason for this.

Nevertheless, the national media continually identifies JH3 as the sole principal owner of the Browns. Even nationally prominent made this ghastly error in an article from one of its contributors when Kevin Stefanski was hired.

Hey Forbes:  This two-bit sportswriter from Dawg Pound Daily is calling you out! Dee Bagwell Haslam is the CEO of Haslam Sports Group, not her husband.

Dee also has a Major League Soccer Championship as part-owner of the Columbus Crew, which Haslam Sports Group saved from moving out of state.

She wears a lot of different hats for innumerable charities and the University of Tennessee, but the one that impressed this fan the most is a simple hat with the number “95” on it that she wore after the unfortunate incident with Mason Rudolph of the Steelers which resulted in Myles Garrett being suspended.

While Myles was hurting at the lowest point of his career, Dee sent a simple message without saying a word, letting him know that she was still behind him, and that she and Jimmy still believed in him. That simple symbolic act spoke much more loudly than any kind of statement she might have said to the press. And when the time came to negotiate an extension for Garrett, there were no fireworks or table pounding. They just quietly got a deal done.

The front office was reorganized by Dee. Dee wanted to stabilize who the Browns are as an organization, and clarify the roles within the organization and ensure that they do not overlap. The Browns had to stop having ownership pressure the general manager to draft a quarterback (Johnny Manziel) or determine when he should play.

The general manager cannot be texting the offensive coordinator to make lineup changes (Ray Farmer and Kyle Shanahan). There cannot be a head coach who does not have the power to overrule the offense coordinator (Hue Jackson and Todd Haley). Nor can you have a general manager yanking away quarterbacks that the coach wants (Sashi Brown cutting Josh McCown), never mind gift-wrapping players for the Steelers in order to position the team for the draft (Brown again, over the strenuous wishes of both Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams).

All these personalities are great individuals, but nobody could do their job, and it was because of unstructured ownership. In short, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and unclear directions had to stop. That is where Dee Haslam came in, and why it was so important to clarify whose role was what.

Early on, rumor had it that she was a fan of charismatic Josh McDaniels of the Patriots. However, she let the smartest person in the organization, namely analytics expert Paul DePodesta make the call. Well, what are we paying DePodesta for if we don’t use him?

She trusted DePodesta to make the unlikely hire of Kevin Stefanski. This was a good move, because McDaniels was insisting on total control of football operations. This rarely works because when things go bad, the coach/GM starts trading away draft picks and makes a bad situation worse. This is what happened to Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans.

The Browns then bet on another Ivy League graduate, a computer guru and former All-Ivy cornerback named Andrew Berry from Harvard, who had been with the Browns before, as well as the Colts and Eagles organizations.

Together they have built a diverse front office, with football experience as well as academic smarts.

Dee Haslam seems content to let her husband deal with the public and the press. Jimmy is naturally extroverted, loves to deal with the public, and thrives with publicity. Dee doesn’t say nearly as much but it is one thousand percent clear to anyone who watches the organization that she has turned the organization upside down, and it is now clicking with one of the smartest management teams in the NFL.

The Haslams might be compared and contrasted to military personalities. JH3 is kind of like Teddy Roosevelt. He is going to charge San Juan Hill with single-minded purposefulness, and he will take the hill from the enemy no matter what. Dee is more like Dwight Eisenhower. She is the one who is going to coordinate a complex operation over a long period of time and pull it off.

The Browns are no longer blowing money on stupid contracts. The cap is being managed properly. There is money to sign the right players. Agents are comfortable talking to the Browns now. People know their job and they are doing it.

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The media is making a huge mistake to ignore Dee Bagwell Haslam’s immense contribution as CEO of Haslam Sports Group. So stop making this mistake, please.