Browns front office discusses “redefining” history, people “desperately” wanting head coaching job

ray farmer browns

It was all but assumed that Cleveland Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer was going to be the next GM of the Miami Dolphins. After several weeks of discussion, Farmer decided to withdraw his name from consideration, sticking with the Browns’ ongoing quest for respectability. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Mary Kay Cabot caught up with Farmer and team CEO Joe Banner this week to discuss the team’s ability to keep the 39-year-old up-and-coming executive.

In what was a very quote-heavy piece, Farmer and Banner both managed to provide some gems—each ranging from motivational and optimistic to outright head-scratching.

From Farmer:

I think Cleveland is primed and I think we’re in a position to redefine the history books. I think change is on the horizon and I didn’t want to miss what’s going to happen in Cleveland.

Given that the definition of “history books” is, and will always be, the documentation of knowledge dealing with past events, it will be essentially impossible for an NFL franchise to redefine anything, let alone this very term. Rewriting history is a commonly used cliché, predominantly in sports, but even this would be difficult to do given the Internet and all. What the Browns can do is add on a few subsequent chapters that allow fans and media alike to focus on positive items—like wins, for example. So we’ll go with that.

From Banner:

The voice of one became the voice that got quoted in every story that was written. It had nothing to do with reality. Some of the most desirable people in all of sports have come to Cleveland since Jimmy and I took over, including Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner, Ray Horton, Mike Pettine, Alec Scheiner and Sashi Brown. Players like Des Bryant and Paul Kruger chose us over others cities, not to mention all of the people that desperately wanted this head coaching job. The evidence — which nobody wanted to bother with — is that this is an extremely desirable place and all of the actions by so many people are proof of that.’

Talk about cranking the troll dial up to maximum output. I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s move on. Here, Joe discusses the team’s desire to keep Mike Lombardi (and Farmer) behind the scenes.

I’ve never seen a sports team have more than one voice other than the head coach that speaks for the organization. That’s what we do in Cleveland, but somehow that’s become controversial. Teams don’t put out multiple layers of people and usually the media doesn’t want to speak to anybody other than the kind of decision-makers and as high up in the organization as they can get — so no, Ray won’t be any more of a public face than he’s been. […] They want to bash Mike. You’d like to think people would rise above that, but it just doesn’t happen. I never heard of the media that can speak to the higher level executive or to the lower level executive and they’re clamoring to speak to the lower level executive.

So if there are any key takeaways, keeping Farmer in Berea is absolutely a big deal. The guy is highly regarded throughout the NFL. The Browns promoted Lombardi with the sole goal of getting Farmer in Cleveland. He was the man who has led much of the scouting efforts for the team and was watching every snap of the Senior Bowl last month. When Farmer was interviewing with the Dolphins ownership team, there was some clamoring for the team to remove their current general manager and promote from within. Keeping Farmer may have been the biggest “move” of the team’s all-too-young offseason.

Also, the team was willing to fire some of the “most desirable” people in all of sports—one of which is still unemployed at this very moment.

Image: Jennifer Nawalaniec, Cleveland Browns

  • Wow


  • RGB

    If Slick Jimmy wants to instantaneously regain a large portion of his credibility back with Browns fans he just needs to jettison Lombardi and turn this ship over to Farmer.

  • boomhauertjs

    By “redefining the history books” I think Farmer means “no team will be as bad as this one will be for the foreseeable future”.

  • That’s not redefining history. That’s changing course, the future not being predicated upon the past. I get what he was *trying* to say; it’s just not what he said.

  • CB Everett

    Re: Lombardi. “Talk about dialing up the troll dial…”

    It’s on Banner for dialing it up? Since Lombardi’s announcement, we’ve heard nothing but incessant clamoring to make him available for public question. Let’s be honest and say it would amount to nothing short of a rock slinging meets inquisition meets circus–that would make any a$$clown “three stooges” questions pale in comparison. I realize that when Banner basically calls out “journalistic integrity,” fair play, and questions the pitchfork brigades, he’s inviting backlash. But frankly, good for him.

    I can’t wait for the day people let what Lombardi did with the franchise in 1995 and what ridiculously one-dimensionally caricatured “weasily, bean-counting” notion we have of Banner from Philly. For the love of god…can we make someone else the object of our collective ire, such as an actual opponent??!

    Is it wise for him to engage the trolls? Probably not. But I’m glad to hear him fire a shot back. And I’m glad to see Farmer speak up (and risk unpopularity by publically supporting Banner and Lombardi). And let’s not forget what’s lost in all of this is that Farmer, the up and comer, put his money where his mouth is and stayed here.

  • Adam Copeland

    Joe Banner’s ego just oozes out of all of those absurd quotes. He just can’t help himself. The smart thing to have done when MKC called would have been to just talk about how great Farmer is and leave it at that.

    In any event, there is one thing I actually agree with Banner about and that’s the media availability of Mike Lombardi. This should be a non-issue, but because Lombardi has a big mouth and a poor track record in Cleveland and elsewhere, the media wants to talk to him. While his title is technically “General Manager,” in reality, Banner is really the GM and Lombardi is more or less an assistant GM. Banner is correct that generally it makes no sense to want to talk to the junior executive when you can talk to the senior one.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think it’s more that Banner is trying to create spin rather than ooze ego. I love your second paragraph though… it’s a distinction I’ve also been trying to help people understand. Just because Mike Lombardi gets to put “General Manager” on his nameplate doesn’t mean that’s the job he’s actually performing. Banner has always been doing the work of the typical GM since he arrived in Cleveland, similar to Elway in Denver.

  • mgbode

    I don’t see the issue with his terminology based on how he utilized it. While the Browns cannot re-write the history books, they certainly can redefine it in the terms of how people look at it.

    Is the 2013 NFL draft a bust? Right now, it looks that way, but if Mingo has a big impact next year and McFadden is a solid CB for us, then we will define that draft much differently. The same with our FA signings, particularly Kruger and Bryant. If they help anchor a stout defense, then we will redefine those signings into the success category.

    And, the big one, was firing Chud and staff after 1 year a panic-stricken mistake? Well, if Pettine wins 9-11 games next year, then noone will think so (yes, that would take an absolutely huge leap and is not likely but demonstrating how we can redefine things).

    Much needs to be done rather than said, but parsing the words, I don’t see an issue.

  • The troll dial was related to the quote above; that Chud et al were among the most desired individuals in all of sport.

  • mgbode

    Banner’s stuff is just pure PR-BS. And honestly, whether or not it was true, it didn’t need to be said and comes off petty to me. But, whatever.

  • CB Everett

    In my best Gilda Radner voice, “Sorry, well never mind then.” My misread. I agree with that point–and that’s plain silly on Banner’s part to lump in Chud with the “most desired” after having canned the guy.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t know which is worse Cabot writing this or me reading it. This even more then the poor on field performance is why I say this franchise is the worst in the NFL AND why I don’t see it turning around anytime soon. I will assume that Banner and Farmer are saying what they believe and believe what they say which if I were a Browns fan would scare me to death!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    X 10

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s never good when you have to explain/translate what someone said/meant. The entire reason for them answering was wasted.

  • Not to mention, I’m fairly certain CLE was the only team to interview him heading into last season AND he’s not employed by an NFL team as of this interview.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Deja vu!

  • CB Everett

    Hey, at least Banner didn’t say the desirable Dan Quinn would have taken the job. Too soon?!

  • Hopwin


  • The_Real_Shamrock

    So you are trying to help people understand something the front office isn’t saying? This is the sort of thing I’m tired of already it’s clear Banner isn’t just a CEO and it’s clear no one will ever know exactly what Lombari does or doesn’t do.

    As far as the job titles go they just make those up so they can play games with the hiring process. It’s how they “promoted” Farmer and were able to hire him in the first place. Listen I love games as much as the next guy but not when your franchise is a complete joke.

  • Wow

    Have a good draft and win more than 4 games then we can talk about redefining things.

  • FearTheRoo

    I honestly couldn’t care less if Lombardi and Farmer aren’t in press conferences. The only people who care are reporters. We just want to see wins.

  • gotta admit: when you’re working in a city that hasn’t won a championship since 1964, they’re definitely in a “position to redefine the history books.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The bar for the Cleveland Browns is on the ground yet they still haven’t been able to step over it.

    They just talk to much if I was a Browns fan I’d almost feel insulted every time they open their mouths now. They blew the chance to make a first impression and it resulted in the same thing they replaced. A year later and nothing has changed no matter how upset Jimmy Haslam gets from hearing the phrase, “Same old Browns.”

  • Pat Leonard

    I can’t answer as to why the front office isn’t saying it, but it seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? Giving titles that don’t actually represent the work associated with the job is not a rare practice at all, particularly in business. My job title at one point was “associate project manager” when I wasn’t managing or helping to manage any projects whatsoever. I got a “title bump” so that they could pay me more and keep me from leaving the company.

  • maxfnmloans


  • RGB

    Setting a new record every year by adding another season of futility technically is redefining the history book.
    Just saying…

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You would think successful business people could use the same model for their sports teams but in Cleveland it’s pretty obvious they cannot.

  • architrance

    Empty Banner Banter. Why would you want to talk to the upper level exec when this is the BS that vomits out of his mouth?

  • cbrockman9

    I thought Farmer dropped out of the Dolphin’s GM running, because the CEO, President or whatever kept referring to him as Ron (or some other incorrect name) during a large public press conference…not necessarily because he loved the Browns so much.

  • Is it cold in here?