July 31, 2014

New York Post writer Bart Hubbuch fails to make his point in Manziel Media controversy

Hubbuch NYPost

I tried to be fair to Bart Hubbuch. I didn’t get into a flame war with him on Twitter. I didn’t call him out when he engaged in a “block party” with Browns fans. I know how nasty and defensive Cleveland fans can be. Part of recognizing our place in the wider universe is recognizing just how many faults we truly have. This time though, Bart Hubbuch revealed that even if he has some points about the Browns making mistakes in handling Johnny Manziel “mania,” he’s got some massive faults of his own on this issue and he’s really coming off like a baby. So, let me address some of what he said in his critical column of the Browns at the New York Post yesterday.

Let’s start right from the beginning. Here’s Hubbuch’s opening.

The Browns think they can control Johnny Football mania, which pretty much explains why this franchise is the NFL’s longest-running joke.

Cheap shot No. 1. Yes, the franchise is a long-running NFL joke, but any amount of research shows that the punchlines haven’t had much of anything to do with Ray Farmer, Alec Scheiner or the Browns media folks since Zak Gilbert took over. Maybe Gilbert and his crew will fail to handle Johnny Manziel effectively, but they haven’t fallen on their faces just yet and they aren’t holding the bag for Holmgren’s Colt McCoy concussion fiasco, for example. The debacle that was covered by Grantland? This had nothing to do with this current cast.

Never mind that The Post, like every other media outlet, was going to Cleveland with the expectation of writing a positive story — something that doesn’t happen too often for a sad-sack franchise with just two winning seasons since its return to the city in 1999.

And what kind of joke would the Browns be if they went against what they thought was the right way to handle a player coming into the league at the expense of really early and premature “good” press? They’d be a monstrous joke. They’d be selling their souls not to be the best football team, but for the best headlines. Maybe they’re being silly by cutting off media this weekend, but their motives are actually pretty sound. Hubbuch just wants their motives to align with his — a writer for the New York post — who is looking for page views and newspaper sales in New York.

The team’s stance ranks high on the hypocrisy meter, too. The Browns were more than happy to sell 2,500 new season tickets and a boatload of new Manziel jerseys (even LeBron bought one), yet at the same time they’re trying to act like the former Heisman Trophy winner is just another player on their roster.

It’s a balancing act. The Browns didn’t draft Johnny Manziel at the top of the first round for a reason. They obviously didn’t think he was the next Andrew Luck or RG3 who was clear and away ready to step under center right away. So, yes, they’re balancing between drafting a really high-profile player with potential to be a starter at some point vs. his popularity today based on what he did at another stage of his life. Hubbuch makes it sound like they couldn’t draft Manziel fast enough simply to sell jerseys and tickets. They passed on him twice if you think about it. Just ask Sammy Watkins and Justin Gilbert.

Next in reference to Jimmy Haslam’s statements about Manziel acting like a backup, Hubbuch takes cheap shot No. 2.

Yep, Manziel needs to just shut up and do his job, apparently. And be like the oh-so-professional Haslam, whose truck-stop chain is currently an indictment mill for the feds for defrauding their corporate customers out of millions of dollars.

I don’t think there’s any other website or outlet who has discussed, critically, the issues of Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot/Flying J than WFNY. The outstanding legal issues have real negative potential for the team and the fans if and when they come down. But, in this situation they couldn’t be any less relevant except that Bart Hubbuch is mad and wants to get a dig in. It’s fine if you want to make the case that the Browns are mishandling the Johnny Manziel media situation, but you don’t strengthen your case this way. I mean, why not drop some line about Staph infections and Kellen Winslow Jr. while you’re at it? Hey, did you hear the Cuyahoga River caught on fire 60 years ago? Stick to the point.

Hubbuch finishes.

If the Browns weren’t interested in the “Hollywood” part of the Manziel package, they shouldn’t have drafted him. They can tilt at windmills all they want, but there’s no separating the two.

As I said before, it’s a balancing act. The Browns can only control what they can control and Johnny Manziel is going to be high profile all season long whether he’s starting or sitting on the bench. In the end though the Browns seem to understand that they don’t want to live their football lives for cheap pops. The only way to be relevant in the NFL is to win and win consistently.

Hours after signing his new, $40-million contract, Browns cornerback Joe Haden may have said it best. “When you’re on the field everybody’s going to see what’s going on. It’s not like anybody’s given free spots. You have to earn it. You have to win it.”

It’s a fun side-effect of this year’s draft that Johnny Manziel gives the team some more attention and jersey sales, but none of the stories penned here about Manziel ever had anything to do with marketability; they had to do with the fact that the Browns haven’t had a legit starting quarterback since Bernie Kosar; they had to do with the fact that this kid with only two years of college experience showed a fire, competitiveness and play-making ability that defied his “two-inches too short” stature.

Bart Hubbuch has Cleveland ties, having covered the team in the early 1990s for the Akron Beacon-Journal. Conversely, Hubbuch is the big man on campus at the New York Post who just can’t believe a media market like Cleveland had the gall to say no to him. And maybe he’s right that the Browns are “tilting at windmills” but the way he went about making his case and complaining publicly on Twitter (again) doesn’t help him make that point at all.

  • Garry_Owen

    But we do think it wasn’t done “often,” so I misspoke there.

  • bossman09

    The best way to react to these things is ignore it. Yes, it’s BS. Yes, it’s going to Damage Cleveland is some small way. But this is just the beginning. The more upset we get about the national media, the more we feed the beast. In the end, it all depends on what Manziel does on the field.

  • Steve

    No, I get that much. I still think directing any spotlight on the Post does more harm than good under the “no such thing as bad publicity” thought process.

  • Makaveli

    Grossi 55k followers, this guy 14k. But we should care…..

  • TomWFNY

    Back in the day, Romans would punish unruly units by grouping them into tens, having those ten draw lots, and then having the nine who got long straws kill the guy who got the short straw. Thus, the unit was decimated.

  • maxfnmloans

    Great fisking Craig. I think I was one of the block-ee’s. It’s like what people say about family..I can make fun of mine, you can make fun of yours, but God help you if you make fun of mine.

    His article and tantrum were completely the result of sour grapes. Like I tweeted him the other day, the national media uses Cleveland as a speed bag whenever it suits their needs, however they feel like we should welcome them with open arms when they deign to give us “positive” coverage.

    Maybe Mike Vick can throw him a bone

  • maxfnmloans

    I care. I’m not saying this to change your mind, but you asked, so I answered.

  • maxfnmloans

    Are you Mrs. Gobetz, my HS Latin teacher, reincarnated? Wow…for a minute I was in 9th grade again where I remember hearing something eerily similar

  • maxfnmloans

    yuk yuk we could meet ‘em down by the ol’ swimmin’ hole near Pigeon Holler

  • Harv 21

    and transparent sour grapes. Written in the petulant voice of a lifer who now conflates his professional interests with those of his readers. I’m embarrassed for the guy, actually.

  • maxfnmloans

    I saw PTI. In the positive corner, this morning on the NFL network show, Eric Davis and Jordan Babineaux supported the move (ex-players) while Steve Wyche questioned it (career journo).

    So, that pretty much says it all.

  • Toddyus

    As a grisled media relations veteran, I can tell you that some (many?) writers/editors are self-important egoists. They won’t give you the time of day when you’re trying to do your job, but get all bent out of shape when someone impedes them doing their job.

    Then you thrown New York on top of that and you get Bart Hubbuch.

  • Toddyus

    I can’t tell you how many times I had the 4-hour Sunday morning pre-game show on with not a single mention of the Browns. Even when they do the 15 seconds coverage of the upcoming Browns game, they only talk about our opponent.

    So, to put it as graciously as I can, screw ‘em.

  • Pat Leonard

    “Clearly the Browns don’t know what they’re doing with Johnny Football. They should trade him to the Jets for Stephen Hill! The Jets know how to make a proper spectacle out of a new player addition!” – Hubbuch, probably

  • bupalos

    Great job. Personally, I hope the national media beats this regime up day in and day out. I think Pettine has a great handle on the value these kind of external enemies and attacks can provide for individuals and organizations that have their head screwed on straight. BFT ain’t trying to hear that. The 22 pick is making more sense to me every day.

  • TNB

    Bart Hubbuch? More like Butt Hurt-buch.

    /wakka wakka wakka.

  • RGB

    Want!
    Do they come with a matching clipboard?

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo
  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo
  • Garry_Owen

    Yep. Saw the same thing.

  • Wendy Myers

    Sounds like this Hubbuch dude has a woody for Manziel, and when he didn’t get to see him, had to take a cold shower. Poor baby! The Browns are doing the right thing by Manziel. They drafted him as a football player, not an idol. Yes, the guy will sell tickets and jerseys, but so does Haden! Look at what the Jets did with Vick, you think he won’t sell in NY? The media needs to chill. Go dig some other hole for news.

  • Big Z

    Media: “blah blah blah blah blah…”

  • Bluedog93

    As near as I can tell, Hubbuch doesn’t claim that allowing the media to attend rookie camp would help the Browns achieve the objective of winning more games. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to dispute that it would hurt the objective of winning more games. Rather, his point seems to be that Browns fans should prefer positive press to success on the field.

    I disagree.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Can we do that here?

  • William Ingramm

    Best thread ever…thanks for the enlightenment!