Peter King is one of the best NFL writers in the nation and as a national guy his perspective can sometimes be instructive to help local fans take blinders off. As a follower of the Browns, it’s pretty easy to lose perspective on the more overarching story-lines that make up an NFL season or era as you’re consistently living and dying with week-to-week results. It’s with that in mind that it’s definitely worth considering when Peter King instructs Browns fans to “Stop cursing Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.”
Just stop it. Do you know how much those two men helped you draft Manziel? With Banner and Lombardi running the 2013 draft, the Browns traded their fourth-round pick to Pittsburgh in exchange for the Steelers’ third-round pick in 2014; that was the 83rd overall pick in this year’s draft. In September, Banner/Lombardi traded running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for the Colts’ first-round pick in 2014; that was the 26th overall pick in this year’s draft. On Thursday, Farmer traded those two picks—26 and 83 overall—to Philadelphia for the 22nd overall pick, the pick he used to draft Manziel.
Peter King is right, of course. Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi’s fingerprints were all over this NFL draft thanks to the fact that the Browns had the Colts’ first round draft pick as well as extra picks from the Steelers and (again) Colts due to the largely punted 2013 NFL draft. Those aren’t the only fingerprints that Banner and Lombardi left on this team though.
That duo along with Jimmy Haslam lorded over a coaching search that resulted in a one-and-done Rob Chudzinski. They were partially responsible for the Browns coaching search that was the subject of national embarrassment and scorn even if I did end up kind of liking the prospects of Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan. They stood responsible for a team that went 4-12 including a rushing attack that featured 138 carries by Willis McGahee. Most importantly, they were responsible for an environment and structure inside Berea that was such that Jimmy Haslam felt it would be more productive to move forward without Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi altogether.
So, Peter King is right that these two men helped deliver Johnny Manziel, but he seems to want to white wash all the things that they did that made the Browns so awful in 2013. Sorry if I don’t think it’s nothing that the Browns only won four games and had high draft picks in every round this year. This is one of the cases where Peter King doesn’t seem to get it. The Browns fans, in essence, paid those bills by watching awful football while living through tumultuous and embarrassing levels of instability from the top down inside the Cleveland Browns hierarchy. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t look at the ends here and just decide it’s honoring the truth to say they justified the means.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not done cursing about the last twelve months and for someone to demand that I should is lacking in proper perspective. I still love Peter King and his invaluable voice, but I think he’s gotten this one all wrong.