We’re only five days in to 2017. I probably should have made a New Year’s resolution to brush aside the hatchet jobs or attacks from certain members of the national or local media toward our Cleveland Browns, but dammit, I just can’t help myself. At the forefront of today’s rant are Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, and Joe Reedy of the Associated Press.
First, let’s start with [sigh] La Canfora, who appeared on Baskin & Phelps on 92.3 the Fan on Wednesday. To begin the segment, the audio was played of the following exchange between Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer and team owner Jimmy Haslam.
Cabot: “There’s a report that Hue Jackson is going to push you to add another personnel [member]...”
Haslam: “[cutting off] I don’t comment on reports from that reporter.”
La Canfora starts off the segment by being giddy about hearing the audio from Haslam for the first time — he’d only previously read the transcript.
La Canfora: “I mean, their draft class was stunning. Best in the league -- they’re on their way. The core is set! There’s probably a quarterback on their roster already, right?” (sarcastic)
La Canfora: “Well, is that not what they said? That’s sort of the gist of it.”
He then went on a rather obsessive rant about the team saying they will rely a lot on Jackson to help figure out the quarterback situation.
La Canfora: “There was this whole push of maybe we’ve got a quarterback on the roster, maybe we don’t. But to find the new guy, we’re going to really rely on Hue. And I’m thinking, ‘Hue? The same guy you hired last January who is a quarterback guy?’ Wait, is this a different Hue [now]? Is this Hue Smackson? Is this some Hue who wasn’t there last year, when you had a huge quarterback problem and the job was all about figuring out, finding out, developing a quarterback, drafting one, or whatever. I found [all of that] a little bit odd, as this was some new thing, ‘Yeah, we’re really going to rely on Hue for that [this time]’. Who were you relying on this [past] year?”
La Canfora also poked at the organization because of the successful quarterbacks in this past year’s class [Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz], the guy they really liked was Jared Goff, to the point where when he was off the board, they said, “let’s get the hell out of [No. 2] — it doesn’t matter that there are ten other blue chip players we might be able to get there. There’s a million receivers in this year’s draft, so we’ll just draft five of them, starting in the middle of the first round.”
The sarcasm only continued.
La Canfora: “You’re just stocked with assets!...waiting to turn into marginal players.”
About 95% of La Canfora’s time was spent going after the way the team operates. It was surprising to hear the 5% when he actually tried to seriously talk about options at the quarterback position: “I reported months ago that they liked Mitch Trubisky. They have the picks to move up if they need to.” He was less optimistic about free agency or a trade — such as Mike Glennon, Tony Romo, or Jimmy Garrapolo.
What I found great is that when actually pressed about who the decision-makers are in Berea, La Canfora said that he guessed it was Sashi Brown, but he didn’t know how much say people like Hue Jackson, Paul DePodesta, etc. said. He said that he can “only go by what they say in their press conference.” While I’m sure he didn’t mean it to come off this way, it sounded like he had no inside knowledge of how things work, to which I thought, “How can you expect us to believe your previous report about Hue and wanting to add a personnel guy?”
Toward the end of the segment, La Canfora said, “I don’t care what they say — the roster is worse than the one that Hue inherited.”
Well, no shit, Sherlock. I think they made that pretty clear with the way last offseason went — this is supposed to be a long-term plan, and all La Canfora can do is complain because there aren’t significant short-term results?
Now, let’s shift attention to the local beat.
During the Browns’ season-ending press conference a couple of days ago, Tony Grossi decided to lash out at the front office for the team’s quarterback situation, and for basically not withering in shame before him after coming off of a 1-15 season. While Sashi Brown did not respond in a derogatory way with words to Grossi, I took satisfaction in the demeanor of his response, which in my mind conveyed a laugh and a thought of, “buzz off, asshole.”
Grossi’s column the following morning continued the “assault.”
We did not hear, however, the most appropriate response to such an utterly unacceptable season. That response should have been, “We apologize. Obviously, we didn’t make enough right decisions. We have to do so much better and we believe we will.”
Instead of humility, the leaders of the New Browns Order, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, exuded smugness and that is as disturbing as it is off base. They practically broke their arms slapping each other’s backs for a job well done. When they make the movie of this one -- call it "Funnyball" -- I suggest reuniting "Dumb and Dumber" co-stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels for the leading roles.
Don’t think Grossi’s vomit ends there — I couldn’t just copy and paste the whole article, though. I think Grossi needs to tread lightly. He was already fired from his long-standing post at the Plain Dealer by tweeting that the team’s former owner was “the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.” Personally, I think the way he conducts himself now is worse than he’s ever been, but that may also be part of a tonal shift from working at the Plain Dealer vs. ESPN Cleveland, where he’s basically allowed to do or say whatever the hell he wants. I’m not saying the local media should coddle or pander to the front office. If they’re going to ask “tough questions,” though, then they should actually be well-thought out questions instead of whining hissy-fits.
We also have Joe Reedy of the Associated Press, and formerly of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who weighed in on Twitter.
That’s problem one right off the bat — by reading the transcript only, you don’t get to see any bit of how Grossi conducted himself.
Talked to 2 writers today who said they had same questions as Tony. It's a 1-15 team. Front office should apologize, not snipe https://t.co/Cf84P9oGai— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) January 4, 2017
A fan asked Reedy why the front office should answer the same question repeatedly, also pointing out that Grossi and Reedy are buddies, so apparently it's "OK" to be an ass. Reedy responded by saying, "there were plenty of times I had to be an ass in press conferences to try and get answers that fans wanted to know."
Well, I’m sorry Mr. Reedy, but instead of getting answers to questions I wanted to know (i.e. any status updates on Josh Gordon’s future or Nate Orchard’s injury?), I got Grossi whining. Didn’t there used to be a saying in journalism that a reporter shouldn’t become part of the story? (Although Twitter has practically killed that, it seems).
Here is what Reedy says the front office should have done during their press conference:
Apologize to fans repeatedly. They apologized and then spent the rest of it in dodging responsibility mode. https://t.co/hVDf9vfB9q— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) January 4, 2017
Let me get this straight — this was a long-term plan, with much of their assets (draft picks and cap space) to be used in 2017 and 2018. So, what in the world is wrong with them apologizing at the start for having to grind through the tough times, yet remain confident in the plan they had from the get-go?
And lastly, we had this from Reedy:
God, please grant me the peace and serenity to use the mute button a lot more in 2017.— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) January 4, 2017
Well, I guess it’s not the block button, but it sounds like Reedy and Grossi are nearly one-in-the-same.
Another year, same shit — and I’m talking about the media, not the Browns.