A rumor surfaced on Tuesday morning that Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer may have turned down the Dolphins' GM offer because he was promised a promotion, possibly replacing Mike Lombardi. The rumor caught traction and made the rounds on local sports talk radio.
It seemed to at least coincide with what was a common narrative nationally that the Browns organization is "radioactive" and "dysfunctional." Attitudes about "those in charge" even reportedly got to the point of "disparaging to downright nasty."
However, according to Farmer's own words, the rumor isn't true. He turned down Miami's offer not because he was promised anything more by the Browns, but because of how confident he is about the structure already in place here and its ability to turn things around for Cleveland.
Both Farmer and CEO Joe Banner spoke with Cleveland.com in a noticeable attempt to begin tearing down that previous narrative. And it might just work.
What perhaps started as a clearing of the air reached a fever pitch when Farmer decided to use very bold language.
"I think Cleveland is primed and I think we're in a position to redefine the history books," Farmer told cleveland.com. "I think change is on the horizon and I didn't want to miss what's going to happen in Cleveland."
It's two words short of a Rex Ryan-esque Super Bowl guarantee, something head coach Mike Pettine actually made a note of not doing.
The front office is obviously attempting to curb the negative press and the idea that management isn't all on the same page, which is an entirely understandable effort.
Although, when honest enthusiasm and lofty aspirations go on the record, you can expect to be held to them. Ask Mike Holmgren about whom to call for playoff tickets. We're still waiting on that one.
When Browns fans say that they've heard it all before, they mean it with the utmost sincerity. So one can understand why they might be hesitant to heed such strong words. Especially considering the decisions this front office have made up to this point, including the one that sparked the PR nightmare to begin with, firing a head coach after less than a calendar year.
Farmer himself concedes that fans have the right to be skeptical.
"I love Mike Lombardi,'' said Farmer. "A lot of people in this city don't, but those people don't know him. He's one of my dearest friends at this point. He's intelligent, he's smart, he's witty, he challenges me every day to be better, so I like where I'm at and I like him. There are no assurances in the NFL and coming off a 4-12 season people are skeptical, people don't understand why some decisions were made inside the building, but again I think inevitably, I trust the process we're going through.''
Others might cling to anything even remotely resembling hope. And they shouldn't be blamed for it either.
It hasn't only been a nightmare on the public relations front. Fans don't want to be inundated with stories about how their favorite team is the laughing stock of the league, or radioactive, dysfunctional, toxic, or disparaged at the Senior Bowl, of all places, among some of this year's top draft prospects.
It has been a prolonged and arduous offseason thus far. And we're only five weeks removed from last season? Ugh.
I, for one, am ready to move on from those storylines.
The Browns organization could use some inspiration. Farmer's words might just be exactly what was needed.
Well, the bar has been set.
Talk is still cheap. It's time for this front office to make it work, to get things right. Or join the long list of "same old Browns" casualties that came before them.