NFL News: Cleveland Browns thought “Honey Badger” was too big of a character risk

Joe Banner spoke to Kiley and Booms on 92.3 the Fan today on a wide variety of topics, but I was especially interested when Kevin Kiley asked him about Tyrann Mathieu, AKA the Honey Badger. It’s not that

“I think that we thought he was a very good player,” Banner said. “We were very concerned – as others were – about some off-field history. If he overcomes that I think it’s great for him and great for the Cardinals. I think in these areas we won’t be perfect, but we’re going to try and play the odds of sticking with high character players that are driven, smart and very determined.”

Joe Banner continued, but that was the bulk of what he said. Kiley followed up with a question about Armonty Bryant, which Banner defended by saying it was a seventh round pick.

Really listen to the whole thing. Kiley and Booms did a very good job with Joe Banner and even if you don’t agree with him, Banner does a very good job of not avoiding questions and trying to answer.

[Related: Proposing new 3rd down sounds for the Browns, Tribe attendance and much more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-11]

  • Toby

    I guess we will have to deal with Brian Hartline types having career days against us week in and week out.

  • dan

    Well, teams passed on Aaron Hernandez because of character concerns too. It will obviously take more than a few months to know whether the Browbs were right on not. Still, regardless of who they passed on, it would be nice if, just once, the Browns drafted a guy who made an immediate impact as a rookie, as seems to happen with every other team in the NFL.

  • MrCleaveland

    Good for you, Joe. Knuckleheads are more trouble than they’re worth. They may give you a flash of greatness now and then, but you cannot count on them and you cannot build a team around them.

    Besides, we’ve already filled our quota of jerks (that would be you, Messrs. Little and Gordon), who show us repeatedly that we cannot count on them.


    By my count, Weeden, Richardson, Schwartz, Gordon, Hughes, and Winn were all rookies that made an “impact” last year and that’s not counting a few of the other guys that played (and started) sparingly.

  • Roosevelt

    And the guy who drafted them was, of course, promoted and given a raise and a corner office, right?

  • Steve_Not_Chad

    If I’m not mistaken Mathieu was not a great cover corner at LSU, and the Browns need a cornerback more than a safety. It’s Shamarko Thomas all over.

  • nj0

    Which is why the first thing I did Monday morning was pick up Marlon Brown in my fantasy league.

    Because in-division undrafted free agent wide receivers are exactly the types of players that have career days against the Browns.

  • Roosevelt

    I was impressed with how they pressed him on how he thought the team was prepared when they didn’t have a right guard or backup running back. And he essentially admitted that they’re not trying to win games at this point, though not in so many words.

    I don’t know about the decision on Mathieu. Looking at guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Michael Vick, Dez Bryant, etc. I understand the inclination to be conservative, especially since these players often wear out their welcome while they can still play. OTOH, the teams that draft them give their fans something to watch for a while, at least for a couple years, while we cycle through conservative front offices. And in a year with a terrible draft, it might have been a good idea to get a first round talent in the third round, to fill a position at which the team has been and is very, very weak.

  • cmm13

    In other words…”we don’t feel we have a strong organizational culture needed to nurture a talented athlete and let them flourish with the right direction”

    Face facts, these are KIDS being drafted into the NFL not 35 year old grown men who’ve received interpersonal communication training and still don’t get it.

    I’m not saying its the Cleveland Browns place to essentially become a parent but I can’t think of a billion dollar company that does not offer its employees HR training, counseling or mentors.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    LoL now you are catching on it’s all about the fantasy. But to be fair most any kind of WR does well against the Browns. For as long as the football team has needed a QB they’ve also needed a CB, LB and S.

  • I can see this from both sides of the spectrum.

    With that said, I totally disagree with Banner on this. When you have a guy with his kind of talent in the third round looking to fill a position of DESPERATE need, you have to pull the trigger. Mathieu would have likely been not only a first round pick, but a top ten pick without the off field garbage. When talent like that is so drastically discounted I don’t see how you sit on your hands.

    I kept hearing Banner say they’re looking for high character, high motivation guys, like we’re the Patriots. Like we can just bring them in and put them through our coaching machine and spit out legit NFL starters despite their talent. I got news for you Joe, the guys you hired aren’t that good.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    For teams like this football team you cannot be so prim and proper. This roster needs play makers, period. If you sacrifice a little when it comes to personality/persona/reputation then so be it but I’m tired of this same old crap every game. Now one important caveat. As long as the off field issues don’t impact the player being in games that’s fine but when they do that’s different. Josh Gordon I’m lookin’ at you!

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Well it’s a GOOD THING they didn’t take the chance! After all, good old what’s-his-name from San Diego state that they drafted instead is doing a bang up job.

  • JK

    But not Josh Gordon & Greg Little.. got it

  • vespo09

    Not sure how that’s relevant – Banner wasn’t around when Gordon or Little were drafted.

  • nj0

    Talk to Walrus about those guys.

  • nj0

    I’m not a big CFB fan. What was the horrible sin Mathieu committed? Smoking too much pot?

  • nj0

    For all my life as a Cleveland fan, what has always killed me is when the scrubs of a team kill us.

    Jordan drops 50? That all you got?

    Luc Longley going 14/8? Now we have a problem.

  • CLE4Life

    As much as I wanted Mathieu(really bad by the way), the trio of Gordon, Little and Mathieu could have been very hazardous towards the locker room. All It could have taken is one of them to go down the wrong path and the rest could have easily followed. With no real experienced vocal leader on the team, I can let this one slide bye…but it still is a little painful.

  • dan

    They played a lot. That doesn’t mean that they had the kind of impact that your A.J. Greens, your Russell Wilsons, or your Von Millers have had.

  • nj0

    It’s a serious question. Is that all he did?

  • maxfnmloans

    I am having trouble reconciling avoiding a 3rd rounder who wont cost much for being a character risk with this (which cost 34 million)

  • maxfnmloans

    kinda yeah, but kinda no…he lied about it, and he also got caught smoking fake pot (allegedly). Also, some friends of his were involved in a burglary, and it was originally unclear if he was there or not, but later it was determined that he wasn’t, but it still was evidence he may not have the best decision making skills when it comes to who he is hanging out with.

    Normally, I’d have been ok with the Browns going this route, but this case was a bit different (imho) if only because he is a phenomenal talent, and it would only have been a third round pick. I think THOSE are the risks to take, not a 6th overall pick on a 240 pound DE who you want to convert to OLB (and I like Mingo, his athleticism jumps off the screen, so I hope they were right and I was wrong)

  • cmm13

    It’s relevant because Banner is around now and in charge of everything.
    If he dislikes “players with characater issues” so much then he should have held to his “morals” and cut Little, Gordon, Taylor and Sheard the moment he got into town.
    The truth of the matter is that the Browns are not interested in winning this year.
    The state of this team you need either an A or an F and I hate to break it to everyone who had hopes because of some AWESOME game 2 preseason performance, Joe, Mike and Jimmy are shooting for an F.
    They are tanking out to ensure they land their QB next year cause Old Man Brandon ain’t it.

  • cmm13

    never gets old. never.

  • nj0

    Ah, ok. Thanks. So it was a little more than just smoking pot.

    I just shake my head when that sort of thing gets lumped into “off-field issues” along with Hernandez-style gangsterism, like that stuff is all equal. Yeah, these guys are in line to make a lot of money, but they’re still young and dumb. It’s the front office’s job to determine what’s youthful indiscretion and what’s hardcore anti-social behavior.

    This being the case, I wouldn’t have had a problem with the Browns taking this guy in the 3rd round.

  • nj0

    I don’t think Banner dislikes players with character issues for any moral reasons. It’s just pure probabilistic risk assessment related to the likelihood of a player being good and not getting suspended by the NFL for misconduct.

  • vespo09

    Cutting existing players is completely different than drafting new ones. When a team is in the position the Browns are in (bad, and plenty of cap space), draft picks are by far the most valuable commodity. Picks in the first half of a draft are a valuable resource – way more valuable than a couple million to keep some (potentially) talented WRs on the roster to wait and see if they can develop enough to keep them around despite any character issues.

  • JK

    Gordon isn’t even on the field, & Little does almost nothing. How much worse could get?

  • Mark Pertee


  • RGB

    Gordon and Mattieu in the same locker room would resemble a Cheech and Chong movie.

  • willf6

    I get what you’re saying Dan, a league impact rather than a team impact. If you’re starting or getting significant playing time, you’re going to impact the team…whether positively or negatively. But I will argue that Haden and Thomas were immediate league impact guys during and after their rookie year. Both were recognized as the one of the best at their positions right away.

  • Kildawg

    Don’t Gordon and Little already provide a Cheech and Chong act? They are a pair of diva WRs after all. Where’s Andre’ Davis and Dennis Northcutt when you need them?

  • saggy

    Dennis Rodman was such a knucklehead. still is. glad he never won anything.

  • dan

    Thomas, I agree. If you recall, it took Haden half a year to get a starting job.

    Let me give an example: There are four starting quarterbacks in the AFC North. All four were drafted by their team in the draft after a losing season. All four started most or all of the games for their team as a rookie. Three of these quarterbacks took their teams to the playoffs as rookies. The fourth was Brandon Weeden.

  • Hopwin

    I think you are confused. Little cleaned his crap up. Joe Haden on the other hand…

  • Hopwin

    Why do people keep picking on Greg Little? Joe Haden is the one who got suspened for taking adderall.

  • MrCleaveland

    The Worm was no knucklehead. He played hard all the time and he was totally unselfish. I’d take guys like him.