Note: This was this year’s April Fools post.
Last week at the NFL’s annual league meetings, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic gathered a bunch of nuggets related to the media side of football. His column this morning talks about some of the early auditions for who might replace Jason Witten on Monday Night Football. For the preseason at least, it sounds like one of those candidates will be former Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
Although the preseason schedule has not been announced yet, Jackson is slated to call two of the Browns’ four preseason games on ESPN. Deitsch spoke with Jackson about how it would feel to offer commentary on the club he coached for the past 2.5 season, that is now poised for stardom. Like we have come to expect from Jackson, though, he ended up tooting his own horn, in more ways than one.
“It will be exciting, especially because no one knows those players better than me,” said Jackson. “I feel like a proud papa, having raised them all. What made me laugh a couple weeks ago is all these things where people debated who deserved more credit for Cleveland being a contender now — Sashi Brown or John Dorsey.”
Jackson chuckled to himself for a few seconds before continuing.
“Credit? Heck, if we’re talking about credit, then you need to talk about Hue Jackson. I mean, with all due respect to John, he’s eating everything off the table. But who set that table? Who filled the cupboard? What people don’t realize is that there is no Myles Garrett without Hue Jackson. There is no Baker Mayfield without Hue Jackson. Heck, there would be no Odell Beckham without Hue Jackson. I’m just being honest.”
Asked to elaborate on how he played a role in the acquisition of Beckham, Jackson called back to a conversation he had with Pat Shurmur during the preseason last year.
“You have to understand the unfathomable job I had as a head coach,” said Jackson. “I knew we were going to lose. I had to keep that locker room motivated, while also making sure they didn’t win too much to start hurting our draft position. That’s why I said no one else in the world could have done what I did.
John talked about how his staff started looking into Odell in December. But what he’s not saying is the conversation I had with Pat [Shurmur] when we played the Giants in the preseason last year. Before the game, we’re talking on the sidelines, and I say, ‘So, what will it take for you guys to send Odell our way?’ and Pat laughs and goes, ‘Well, I know our GM really likes Jabrill [Peppers].’ It was at that point that I told Gregg [Williams], ‘No more of this angel crap with Peppers, we need to showcase him for Dave [Gettleman].
That’s called forward thinking. That’s called setting the table.”
Jackson also talked about how Baker Mayfield is a heck of a player, but still “has some growing up to do,” feeding directly in to what Mike Silver of the NFL Network said about the Browns after their big wins in free agency. Jackson briefly mentioned how the problems with Mayfield stemmed from Jackson trying to explain “not winning too much yet” to help continue setting the table for the future of the club, while he wasn’t having any of it.
The interview is full of so many other incredible quotes, although it’s hard to tell how many of them are tongue-in-cheek. One of my favorite ones was his callback to his “trust me” comment regarding Cody Kessler — which Jackson now says wasn’t to trust him about Kessler’s abilities as a quarterback, but rather the long-term setting of the table.