July 23, 2014

Scott Raab on Johnny Manziel, LeBron James and Cleveland’s savior complex – WFNY Podcast – 2014-06-23

WFNY Podcast LogoWhenever the bat signal goes up and Scott Raab wants to go long-form on Cleveland sports I jump at the chance. This morning I talked to him for over an hour on the following topics.

  • The World Cup and the USMNT’s tie to Portugal
  • Cleveland’s “savior” complex
  • Johnny Manziel and his personality
  • LeBron James and his potential return
  • Mike Pettine and Scott’s forthcoming profile of the Browns coach for Esquire magazine
  • The Cavaliers hiring of David Blatt
  • Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers and Joel Embiid
  • Cleveland Indians attendance talk in the media
  • Sports journalism and the use of anonymous sources

There was even more than all that, but like so many of my conversations with Scott, it all just flowed pretty naturally. Until next time…

Direct download: WFNY_Podcast_-_2014-06-23.mp3

Johnny Manziel to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated (along with a Mike Holmgren quote)

Johnny Football doesn’t know where he’s going in the draft, but he knows who at least one of his detractors is. His quote will join him on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Draft Preview issue. Former Browns Prez, Mike Holmgren says of Manziel, “Too Playground, too freelancey”

When I think of Mike Holmgren’s reign as defacto owner or President of the Browns, I think “Too Seattle, too coachey”

 

Brandon Weeden visiting Dallas today

Weeden working out wearing his signature series watch

In my experience, Dallas Cowboys fans have some consternation with regard to Tony Romo. In Romo, they’ve got a guy with some clear ability and talent, but he never seems to put them over the top. Romo is nearing his mid-30′s now as an NFL player and makes a ton of money and it’s reasonable to assume that the Cowboys might need to start thinking about the future. It’s hard to believe that thought process begins today when former Browns first round draft pick Brandon Weeden is reportedly visiting Big D.

I’m really trying to be kind to Brandon Weeeden, or at least leave him alone. He tried to be a good quarterback here in Cleveland and much like most players who’ve worn the orange and brown, the organization wasn’t exactly conducive to elevating players. Just consider that Weeden was (over)drafted by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, before they gave way to Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi – the latter of whom everyone knew didn’t like Weeden – before finally being released by Ray Farmer. Names like Pat Shurmur, Norv Turner, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Davone Bess litter the box scores that make up Brandon Weeden’s time in Cleveland as well.

Sure, there’s no defending Weeden’s record in Cleveland in the end,  but it seems cruel and unusual to keep harping on it. So, I’ll stop. For now.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it funny that someday a Dallas Cowboys fan might be grimacing through some heart-wrenching turnover-laden Tony Romo performance in the near future and look down the bench at Brandon Weeden to provide some relief.

[Related: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has “invitation” to visit Browns]

Scott Raab discusses the Browns hiring of Mike Pettine – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-25

WFNY Podcast LogoWe don’t do a regular Monday morning podcast with Scott Raab anymore, but whenever there’s something that needs to be discussed, he’s there for us. With the Browns’ hiring of Mike Pettine and ending the lengthy coaching search, it was a good time to catch up.

We discussed the Browns’ search. We discussed Mike Pettine as a candidate. We discussed the challenges facing the Browns going forward and we even fit in a bit of Cavs talk with Chris Grant and Anthony Bennett.

Enjoy!

Check out this episode

Joe Banner, the 3-4 versus the 4-3 and agent Jimmy Sexton

Jimmy Sexton Hire My Clients 595

One of the scariest things for Browns fans in the transition from Mike Holmgren to Joe Banner was Banner’s decision to switch defenses. It isn’t that Cleveland Browns fans have that much of a preference, other than they have a preference against switching schemes all the time. You know, continuity and all that? The Browns were a 3-4 defense with Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini before switching to the 4-3 for Pat Shurmur’s two-year tenure under Mike Holmgren. That defense was young and thought to be on the rise when Joe Banner fired Shurmur, Dick Jauron and proclaimed to Terry Pluto that the Browns needed to run the 3-4. Now that the Browns have fired Rob Chudzinski and are again searching for a new coach, the rumor mill is churning out Jim Schwartz’ name. He’s a 4-3 guy.

[Read more...]

For now, belief in Joe Banner overshadows Browns wins and losses

Joe BannerOne of the most interesting aspects of the 2013 Cleveland Browns is that despite the losses on the field, I’m still very satisfied with the organizational structure that’s been built in Berea. The organizational structure they’ve put in place is by far the most comprehensive of any I can remember since 1999, and that starts at the top with CEO Joe Banner. I’ve said on a number of occasions that Joe Banner is likely the most qualified executive to ever be hired in Berea. After polling fans last week, it seems that my fellow fans are of the same opinion. Joe Banner had 47% of fans above the “No opinion” line and 84% were at least neutral or better overall. That really says a lot about the belief in an executive who has given Browns fans some very good sound bites and an on-field product with only four wins so far. And despite my continued criticisms of the won-loss record, I voted “Like him” at this point as well.

Despite the current optimism, the challenges awaiting Joe Banner this off-season are numerous. There are plenty of draft picks, including Indianapolis’ first rounder, that need to be chosen. Many fans will have a watchful eye on how the Browns handle their own free agents, namely T.J. Ward and Alex Mack. It’s very difficult to say just how good Mack and Ward are compared to what they’ll garner in their next contract, but it’s also very difficult to envision improving the Browns year-over-year while also allowing those two positions to become holes that need filling. [Read more...]

Former Browns trade target John Moffitt calls it quits

John Moffitt, the one-time trade target of the Cleveland Browns, has decided to walk away from the game of football. First reported by Mike Holmgren Christmas card recipient Dave “Softy” Mahler, the reserve offensive lineman said he was “ready to live a different kind of life.”

Moffitt later confirmed the report with a light-hearted tweet of his own.

The Browns famously acquired Moffitt earlier this season as a back-up guard, but the trade was voided by the NFL after the veteran had been introduced to the local media. Reportedly due to a lingering knee issue, Moffitt failed his physical and was sent back to Seattle where he was later acquired by the Super Bowl-hopeful Denver Broncos. Reportedly frustrated by his lack of playing time, Moffitt didn’t report to the Broncos when they returned from their Week 9 bye.

“I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all,” Moffitt told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Seattle. “And I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness for money.

“Everybody, they just don’t get it and they think it’s crazy. But I think what I was doing is crazy.”

Moffitt, 27, joins the growing list of young professional football players to walk away from the NFL as a  lifestyle choice. Earlier this season, former Oakland Raiders first-round pick Rolando McClain walked away from the NFL after fearing that he would become the “next Aaron Hernandez.” More recently, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left his team after allegations of a hostile work environment that reportedly included racist and violence-driven emails and voicemails from a teammate.

[Related: Talking Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin – WFNY Podcast]

Mike Holmgren slams Browns for Trent Richardson trade

Former Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren voiced his displeasure of the team’s recent trading of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick. Making his regular appearance on Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle with host Dave “Softy” Mahler, Holmgren pulled no punches when providing his thoughts on the deal.

“When I was told about it, my daughter phoned me, I thought she was kidding around,” Holmgren said of the deal. “I didn’t believe it. I really didn’t. Then I went on my computer and saw it. I had a lot of emotions. Because I really liked the young man. I really think he’s an outstanding football player. He was something that we needed last year and he had a really fine first year, his rookie year, a really good year. Played through pain, injury. So I was startled by that.”

The Browns, under Holmgren and then former general manager Tom Heckert, traded up to the No. 3 spot in the 2012 draft to select Richardson out of Alabama. The consensus best running back in the draft, Richardson drew comparisons to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson who was selected seventh overall back in 2007. Holmgren not only panned the trading of a first-round pick 15 games into his career, but immediately called out the Browns for quitting on the 2013 season two weeks in.

“I wanted to make sense of it,” said Holmgren. “I’m thinking, ‘What in the world?’ It appears after seeing the press conference that—they’re not coming right out and saying it—they’re kind of preparing for next year, preparing for next year’s draft. Because the coach said we want to be competitive. Who’s gonna be the running back? They don’t even know who’s gonna be the running back this week. How do you make the team better by trading your best player? He’s their best offensive player. He’s a valuable, valuable guy.”

Subsequent to Holmgren’s comments, the Browns named the recently acquired Willis McGahee as the starting running back for the team’s Week 3 contest against the Vikings. He will join third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer in the team’s new starting offense as Brandon Weeden (the Browns’ other first-round pick in 2012, N0. 22 overall) nurses an injured thumb on his throwing hand. Holmgren stated that had he have been in Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski’s position, he would have been forced to walk away.

“Philosophically, if I am the coach and someone came in and did that, said we’re going to do this, then I’d say, ‘OK fire me,’ or I’m gonna quit,” said Holmgren of the team tanking. “We’re both going in to the owner and talk about this and we’ll see who’s still standing.

“I don’t know the coach, but I know people who know him say he’s a great coach, good guy. It’s his first head coaching job. But, boy oh boy, there would be a conversation. I’d shake hands and walk. I would. Because if I disagreed with it vehemently, and I couldn’t buy in … that’s what I would do. You have to be true to yourself in this business.”

[Related: Joe Banner’s Browns have not earned the benefit of the doubt]

What do you make of Brandon Weeden? – Cleveland Browns Roundtable

WFNY_roundtable

Craig: The takeaways from this week’s game seem to be setting the tone for the rest of the season. We’re going to continually look to define Brandon Weeden. On one side there will be those who seem to defend him out of hope, those that will bash him out of preemptive judgement, and those that continue to sit and watch and take it all in.

Where are you guys on Brandon Weeden at this point? Do you still have hope and expectations of Weeden that he can be the Browns quarterback? Have you given up on the guy and just wish the Browns could move on right now? Are you in the middle hoping that Weeden somehow proves to be a decent placeholder?

Andrew: Well, first things first, it’s been one game. I have to keep telling myself that, because every last fiber of my instinct is telling me that what we saw is reality. [Read more...]

Seneca Wallace and Colt McCoy to re-unite in San Francisco?

The San Francisco 49ers might be interested in talking to recently released Seneca Wallace according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (by way of ProFootballTalk.) Of course that seems ironic to Browns fans that saw the Colt McCoy / Seneca Wallace combination lead to controversy over the Browns’ starting QB spot in Cleveland over the last couple years.

Seneca Wallace was cut by the Browns after the pre-season last year and spent the season out of football before being signed by the Saints this off-season. He was released on August 19th.

Colt McCoy was expected to be the backup to 49ers starting QB Colin Kaepernick after being traded on April 1st 2013. The deal sent the Browns’ 2013 6th rounder and McCoy to the 49ers for 7th and 5th round picks in the 2013 NFL draft.

The 5th rounder was flipped to the Colts for their 4th rounder in 2014 and the 7th was included in the trade that brought the Browns veteran receiver Davone Bess.

Hard to believe all the movement of players and draft picks in the NFL. This is a league where it isn’t uncommon for players to go from presumed starters, to expected backups, to assets used in trades for veteran receivers all in a matter of a couple of seasons.

Seneca Wallace better not ask McCoy for any pointers on the playbook should he end up signing in San Francisco. You know, if that comes to pass and McCoy is still there when Wallace arrives, that is.

[Related: Browns’ Chudzinski praises Joe Haden’s leadership]

Scott Raab discusses Bernie Kosar, Peter King, Johnny Manziel and the Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-12

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab (@ScottRaab64) and Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) talk about all the Cleveland sports topics from Bernie Kosar to the floundering Cleveland Indians. Here’s what else we talked about.

  • Marketing 101 with Brian Spaeth (@brianspaeth)
  • Bernie Kosar’s comments about Kellen Clemens and the Pope
  • When you take local comments national the context changes
  • NFL AM hypocritically mocks Mark Sanchez after slapping Bernie Kosar’s wrists
  • Wolf Blitzer vs. Walter Cronkite
  • Casa D’Barons memories from Scott Raab
  • Peter King and Jeff Fisher sharing the same agent
  • Nate Jackson’s book and how they worked with the same editor
  • Bernie’s demons and how fair game they are
  • Should Joe Banner have apologized for Bernie?
  • Sports has turned into a reality TV show
  • Johnny “Football” Manziel and Scott’s thoughts on that
  • The hatred for people with money from Manziel to Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton [Read more...]

Joe Banner sounds good but will have to prove it for Browns fans

Banner and HaslamLike him, trust him, or not, Joe Banner has said all the right things so far as CEO of the Cleveland Browns. His Q&A with Clark Judge of CBS yesterday was just more proof of Banner’s self-confidence and willingness to espouse the Cleveland Browns as a defining project in his career and life. I can remember a time when an interview like that would have had the Cleveland Browns fan base absolutely giddy. I don’t get the sense that Browns fans have that in them anymore.

Joe Banner’s even been perfect in not asking for the full faith and support of Cleveland Browns fans. He’s preferred to fill in any voids that used to be filled with pleas for patience with statements about accountability. That’s really the best answer anyway. Any fans who’ve put their “faith” in a football team in Cleveland since 1999 have been disappointed.

Plus, if we’ve learned nothing in Cleveland since 1999 it’s to put our sports and entertainment choices in proper perspective. This isn’t life, death, family, job or our deity of choice, so proof is far more valuable than faith. Where patience and faith used to go hand-in-hand for many Browns fans, if there’s any patience left it’s constantly being tamped down by paranoia and a now-raging demand for results. And Banner isn’t shying away from any of it. [Read more...]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-02 – Scott Raab talks Patton Oswalt, sports talk radio, Cavs and Tribe

WFNY Podcast LogoAlways a fun time talking to Scott Raab. You never quite know where the conversation is going to go. I especially love talking to him about his Esquire Q&As. This time we talked about his recently published one with Patton Oswalt. Then we talked a bit about Louis CK as well.

  • Sports talk radio
  • Mike Holmgren and his defensive rant
  • Colt McCoy and his concussion
  • The act of incompetence of putting him back in the game
  • Patton Oswalt in The Fan
  • Ratatouille vs. The Fan
  • Oswalt and his hunger and desire to be good
  • Louis CK and his thoughtfulness
  • Kevin Ware and his injury
  • Kim Jong Un
  • Cleveland Indians roster not inspiring confidence
  • Tony Grossi and accountability
  • Mark Shapiro and his break
  • Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers

Check out this episode [Read more...]

NFL Rumor: Is Mike Holmgren heading to Oakland?

Though Mike Holmgren said that he would spend the immediate future in a state of retirement that included motorcycles and margaritas, it appears that the alleged quarterback guru could be heading to the Bay Area to enter into a leadership role with the Oakland Raiders.

ESPN’s John Clayton reports that the “former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach” has been in advanced talks with the Raiders front office. Clayton dubs Holgmren a “natural fit” in Oakland due to an existing relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie. Part of the job would reportedly be to lead the quest for a new stadium, conceivably one without a baseball diamond draped across the middle of it.

Holmgren, brought to Cleveland in December of 2009 under the guise of being a “serious, credible leader.” A quarterbacks coach and offensive mastermind with two Super Bowl appearances on his résumé, Holmgren was ushered out of Berea upon the sale of the Browns to Jimmy Haslam III. Three years later, the Browns enter the upcoming free agency and NFL Draft period with “quarterback” still listed as a team need. 

[Related: Moving Forward in Berea: Mike Holmgren, legacies and dirty water]

While We’re Waiting… Cavs’ Rising Stars, Ohio State Niners, and Mike Holmgren

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Leading off, Brendan Bowers at Stepien Rules takes a closer look at the four Rising Stars Cavaliers from their high school days, “He’s a long-term stock. That line describing Tristan Thompson, true back in 2010 as a member of Findlay Prep, is still true three years later. Thompson has provided plenty of reasons to be bullish moving forward this season specifically, too, as he continues to develop his game. He’s not a combo forward anymore, though, but has shown the ability to also play some five.” [Stepien Rules]

There are four San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl that played their college ball at Ohio State. Michael at Eleven Warriors goes down memory lane, “Donte Whitner, Alex Boone, Ted Ginn Jr., and Larry Grant are all part of the rich heritage of Ohio State football. Each player’s individual legacy is interwoven into the fabric of Ohio State football. Each is part of a larger, beautiful mosaic. In much the same way, a Geddy Lee bass line and a Neil Peart drum fill are both nice on their own, but together they form artistic brilliance.” [Eleven Warriors] [Read more...]

Is Derek Anderson joining the Browns to teach or start?

Derek Anderson Pro Bowl“Are you kidding me?” my wife said to me as we were driving to my parents’ house on Saturday afternoon when I informed her of the Derek Anderson back to Cleveland rumors.

My wife (as many of you already know) isn’t a Browns fan. Sometimes I run Browns things by her just to take the pulse of a non-Cleveland sports fan to see if I’m nuts. Yes, my wife is biased in a way where she wishes the Browns were a better team because it would make her life easier without so many miserable Sundays per year, but that’s where it begins and ends. She has no affinity for any of the players, really, even if she did fall in love with Ben Watson and his adorable family as they were featured on “Road Tested.” Trust me, even that was a tough sell because there’s so much harbored sports hatred for current and former Patriots even as Indianapolis’ rivalry with them kinda left town when they released Peyton Manning. Even all that said, my wife’s response to the Derek Anderson rumors just about sums it all up.

[Read more...]

Werder: Mike Holmgren “willing” to coach again

Mike Holmgren stands to double up on salary over the next couple of years due to the fact that he’ll presumably still be cashing checks from someone associated with the Browns between outgoing owner Randy Lerner and new owner Jimmy Haslam. According to Ed Werder of ESPN, Holmgren might be looking for a musical chair on the NFL coaching carousel once the music stops.

And maybe he’ll take Tom Heckert with him. It’s been thought that Tom Heckert could end up wherever Andy Reid ends up, but if Mike Holmgren’s going to end up coaching again, maybe he’s a more natural travel-mate for Tom Heckert.

You have to think that Dallas will be on the list of teams even as Jason Garrett’s job was recently reported as being safe.

[Related: WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2012: #1 Haslam and Banner Replace Lerner and Holmgren]

WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2012: #1 Haslam and Banner Replace Lerner and Holmgren

2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one.

Sometimes something so big happens that it renders almost all previous opinion and criticism useless. That’s the ultimate takeaway for me after watching the Browns get sold this year. I’d always targeted my Browns criticism and tried to figure out what I thought were the best possible solutions to fix the Browns with the assumption that Randy Lerner was going to sit at the top of the organizational chart. That was the crux of my position that Randy Lerner’s outsourcing of himself to Mike Holmgren was one of the best of all possible solutions. It just never occurred to me that Randy Lerner was actually going to sell the team. But he did. And this being a Browns town, this is obviously the biggest story of 2012 in Cleveland sports. [Read more...]

Heckert on difference between Browns and Colts

Tom Heckert had a statement released by the Browns today, but he also spoke to WKNR’s Tony Grossi and gave this little nugget.

“The difference between us and the Colts is the Colts won the close games and we didn’t,” Heckert said. “We’ve proved we can play with anybody. I think the outlook is awesome.”

In many ways Heckert’s right, but if you look a little bit deeper and ask why the Browns didn’t win their close games you arrive at two things almost every time, in all likelihood.

1. Quarterback

2. Coaching

How much of those two things Tom Heckert had control over is anyone’s guess. Certainly Pat Shurmur was always mostly tied to Mike Holmgren who worked with Pat’s uncle Fritz. Additionally, it has always been speculated that Mike Holmgren was the driving force behind drafting Brandon Weeden. Even if Tom Heckert would have drafted Brandon Weeden, it is usually assumed that Holmgren drove the decision to do it with the second pick in the first round rather than waiting until the second round.

Maybe it’s one of those baseless assumptions and rumors, but it sure seemed that way with the press conferences after the draft.

[Related: Browns Release Statement on Firing of Heckert, Shurmur]

WFNY Podcast – 2012-12-29 – Craig talks to Dave Bryan from SteelersDepot.com about the Steelers matchup on Sunday

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I set about to talk to a Steelers blogger about the matchup this weekend between Thad Lewis’ Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I ended up getting some really nice insight from a real pro who has vast knowledge of the league in general and the Steelers and AFC North in particular. He was quite objective as I think most at WFNY try to be with regard to the Browns. Although, I’m not sure that he and I will ever agree on James Harrison.

You can find Dave Bryan at SteelersDepot.com and on Twitter.

And I’m not sure if you want to listen to it due to topic, but Dave produces one of the best sounding and most professional podcasts I’ve heard. The Terrible Podcast.

Here’s what else we touched on:

  • Mike Tomlin and how reactionary some Steelers fans can be
  • Should the Browns put an asterisk next to the first victory over the Steelers?
  • Some Steelers fans think the team should lose this game for draft status.
  • Dave and Craig both hate the thought of losing games on purpose and think it’s stupid
  • Is James Harrison a head hunter? Craig thinks yes. Dave thinks no. Both try to make rational points about their opinions.
  • Who could be let go from the vaunted Steelers defense before next season?
  • Mike Tomlin’s questionable in-game decisions and how similar some of them sound to Pat Shurmur
  • The difference between winning and losing in the NFL
  • Trap games and whether they truly exist ina league with parity
  • Keys to the game and ultimately Dave’s prediction that the Steelers blow out Thad Lewis and the Browns
  • Craig not being able to disagree with that assessment, unfortunately.
  • Have the Browns packed it in with a lame duck head coach?
  • Should Pat Shumur have another year?

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