Michael Lombardi, the new vice president of player personnel for the Cleveland Browns, made his return to the NFL front office with Friday morning’s introduction after a five-year run with NFL Network and NFL.com.
In working as an analyst for the NFL Network, Lombardi developed a unique perspective of the game that will help him in his new position with the Browns.
“The great thing about NFL Network, and I’m really appreciative to them, is they afforded me an office at NFL Films, where I had the ability to watch football games and watch coach’s tape,” Lombardi said. “I was able to stay in tune to the game. Part of that, too, is to be able to have conversations with coaches all over the league about different teams, about their team.
“It gives you perspective to look back, and any time you can take a step back from the game, look at it, adjust it, modify it, the NFL is about change every three years and you have to keep up with that change. It helped me (with) how we scout, how you look at things, how you want to do things over. I used to have a sign in my office with the Oakland Raiders that said, ‘If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less,’ by Eric Shinseki of the United States Army. I had that up for a lot of reasons, but I think change is really important.”
In watching the game film, Lombardi, a former scout and player personnel director with the original Browns franchise, has seen a change in the NFL game.
“The league, even five years ago, was a throwing league, but it’s become even more so,” Lombardi said. “The positions, the way you grade a draft board has to dramatically change because there’s so many more positions that you’re going to have to grade. It’s a broader spectrum, the requirements of the league. Remember, 10 years ago, there were a lot of teams running option football, pure option. Now, we’re in shotgun-option. The game’s changed dramatically.”
Another change Lombardi noticed is the one within himself. In Friday’s introductory press conference, he acknowledged feeling more passion this time around, something that impressed Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner.
“I personally like people who love their job and love what they do,” Haslam said. “This guy loves the NFL and football. (With) that passion and that work ethic and that drive, I didn’t even have to ask Mike before we came downstairs, ‘Are you going back home?’ I knew he was here for the duration. I heard him say, ‘Look, I’ll do interviews for a while today, and then, I’ve got to go to work.’
“That’s the kind of mentality and culture we want to create here. Mike fits right into that culture. He’s passionate. He works hard. He wants to win, and that’s the kind of people we want to attract.”