News

Print
RSS

Mike Pettine press conf. transcript - 1/23

Posted Jan 23, 2014

The transcript of the introductory press conference for new Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine.

Owner Jimmy Haslam

Opening statement: “This is a very exciting day for the Cleveland Browns organization, for our players, and for the unbelievable fans we have throughout Northeastern Ohio and Cleveland and, really, the entire country. Mike Pettine is the product of a football family. His father is a legendary coach in Pennsylvania. His record was 326-32-4. I think the most important statistic is five of those 326 wins came against his son and none of the 32 losses came against his son. He was 5-0 against his son. Mike is a graduate of Virginia, played football there, was a two-year letterman, graduated with a degree in economics, began his pro career in 2002 with the Baltimore Ravens and then moved on to the New York Jets, and this past year was defensive coordinator at the Buffalo Bills. Mike brings exactly what we think we need for our organization. He’s smart, he’s innovative, he’s demanding, he’s tough. He brings what we consider to be a blue-collar work ethic to the Cleveland Browns organization. I think he will be a perfect fit for our team and our fans. I think we’ll make very god progress under Mike’s leadership and once again, I can’t tell you how excited we are to have Mike be the 15th head coach of the Cleveland Browns. (CEO) Joe (Banner) is going to make a couple of remarks and introduce Mike. Then you all have a chance to listen to Mike and Mike will then do a Q&A. Joe Banner.”

CEO Joe Banner

Opening statement: “Welcome, thanks everybody. I don’t know if you had a chance to meet Mike, but since Mike Lombardi and I are Moe and Larry, we went and set out to find Curly and we succeeded. That’s why it took so long; there aren’t a lot of Curlys running around the country. More seriously, though, this is a really exciting day. I know we were exhaustive to the point that we caused people to question and wonder, but we think that was the right way to do it. It’s a very, very important decision to make sure we met as many people as we possibly could. We spent as much time as we could with Mike, who we had the chance to interview three different times and spent quite a bit of time with, in our minds, maximize the chances that he knew us, we knew him. Everybody had a good understanding of the vision, which was very, very important. I think Jimmy said it well; we’re very attracted by his intelligence, his aggressiveness, his toughness and the type of discipline I think he’s going to bring to the team. I think we’re very conscious of the way the team is at now: its evolution, its strengths, its weaknesses, its character. We think he’s an outstanding fit. So with great excitement, I welcome to the Cleveland Browns as the 15th coach, Mike Pettine.”

Head Coach Mike Pettine

Opening statement: “I want to thank Mr. Haslam, Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, Alec Scheiner. They were a big part of the interview process. Looking back on my year with the (Buffalo) Bills, it’s a bittersweet thing for me to leave there. I had such a tremendous year there with that organization led by Ralph Wilson, Russ Brandon, Doug Whaley and I especially want to thank Doug Marrone. He opened my eyes to a lot of things about this league. He helped me greatly through the interview process. I learned so much football and, probably more importantly, the non-football stuff from Doug. He was tremendous for me. Going back beyond that, I don’t think I would be standing here if I didn’t have the unique partnership that I had with Rex Ryan. But for any of you that are expecting me to be like him personality-wise, you’ll be mistaken. We were pretty much opposites of each other. I’m not going to be predicting Super Bowls or meeting presidents or wins and losses. I won’t be writing on anybody’s Winnebago about ‘Super Bowl or bust.’ But again, he and I were for many years a perfect complement for each other. I kept him on the straight and narrow of things and kept him organized, and he helped me open my mind to a lot of the creative aspects of defensive football. I would also like to thank John Harbaugh, who I spent a year under in Baltimore; an outstanding leader as a role model for coaches around this league. Also to Brian Billick, who I worked for as well. I think the biggest reason I’m here, my biggest influence as I already mentioned, was my dad. Yes I was 0-5 against him, and that was unfortunate. But again, I’ve worked for some great coaches, played for some great coaches, but I think all of my roots, all of my foundations still goes back to my dad. He was a guy that, to me, just understood football from A-Z. He wasn’t an offensive specialist, a defensive specialist, he was just pure football through and through. Playing for him was a rough experience. I really wanted to get away from football after I was done playing for him, but after a while ended up circling back and just fell in love with the game. That’s what I’m most passionate about and it’s something that, again, he gave me the advice that I think a lot of good parents give: Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve been fortunate to pair my passion with my profession.

“My vision here in Cleveland, having spent time in Baltimore, to compete in the AFC North you have to be willing to bloody your nose a little bit. I think that’s the mentality that we’re going to take here. This team is going to be built on toughness. Most people think of toughness in just the physical sense, I think as important or more important is the mental toughness, is the ability to think through things when they aren’t going well, to hang tough when things go bad, that the heads don’t drop and that same old Browns, and teams talk themselves into losing. That to me is the culture that needs to be changed here. So again, we’re going to build a team here that’s not just physically tough, but obviously mentally. We’re going to set high standards for our players. They’re going to be graded hard on every snap, whether it’s a snap in practice or whether it’s a snap in a game; they’ll be graded and graded hard. The standards will be high and then we’re going to hold those players accountable. Again, just looking from a scheme standpoint, I’m not one to speak on what we’ll be running because, again, that’s going to be based on an evaluation of the roster. I’ve always been of the mindset that you never fit your players to your system; you fit your system to your players. So again, once we hit the ground running and get the staff hired, the first task will be to evaluate the roster from top to bottom and see what we have here, what we do well, maybe what holes we need to fill. But I’m so excited to be here. Just again, admiring from afar, the fan base here, I think through all the tough times here the fans here have remained loyal and they’re among the most passionate in the league.”

On his predecessor having only one year, and whether he’s confident he’ll have the time needed to turn around the team: “It’s not unnerving and, again, I don’t feel real qualified to speak on that because I wasn’t here; I didn’t know the circumstances. I only know the circumstances that were put in front of me, and that’s a leadership group that’s committed to winning. When you look at the other attractive parts of the job, it was a young roster, plenty of cap space, a deep draft, plenty of picks. Again, that did not factor in for me at all. I’ll always take, again, the cockiness of a coach, but I’ll bet on myself. Again, I don’t want to get involved and back away from a job because of lack of perceived security.”

On finding the right offensive coordinator and if there is someone in mind already: “I do have guys in mind. I won’t speak on it at this time. The staff is a work in progress; that is the critical part. I do feel comfortable about where we will be, defensively, given my background. But also being a former quarterback, I have some thoughts on offense myself. I’m not going to run it but at the same time I think I can apply my defensive knowledge to offensive football, and I think I can help, whatever coordinator we bring in, be successful here.”

On if he feels comfortable being in the spotlight, having been in movies and TV shows, and if it has helped him prepare for this situation: “I do not feel comfortable at all. The sooner I can get off this stage and out of this suit and working on getting this team headed in the right direction, the better. I have fortunately over my career, fortunately or unfortunately, been involved in some of those things and I think that would be accurate to say. Some of the places I’ve been where they’ve given us the opportunity to be in front of the media, that that’s been helpful.”

On if he was surprised to get a call from the Browns and if he always expected to be a head coach: “Was not surprised. Those expectations were there at some point. It was a goal of mine for sure, a career goal. I know some guys that only want to progress to be a position coach or coordinate. I got the taste of being a head coach when I was a head coach in high school. But again, it was nothing I actively pursued. When I’ve talk to young coaches or when I see guys heading down the wrong path, I’ve always talked in terms of, ‘Don’t look for a better job; do a better job.’ I always felt that if I put my head down and worked hard, that the better opportunities find you on their own.”

On if he believes that he was the first choice of Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner: “That to me is not an issue. That’s come up before and much has been made of the number of candidates that have been interviewed. That doesn’t factor into my thinking at all. I was going to be like, ‘Well if I’m not the first choice then I’m not going to take it.’ It’s been my life-long dream to be an NFL head coach and however that opportunity presents itself is fine with me.”

On how much conversation during the interviews were on quarterbacks: “It definitely came up and as we all know that as far as when you prioritize the positions of the National Football League, there’s the quarterback and then there’s about 10 open spots, and then you start talking about the next open position. It would be foolish, even being a defensive guy, to ignore that issue. I’m not going to be that defensive coach that says, ‘Listen, we’re going to win it on defense and we’re going to run, and we don’t need to have a great quarterback.’ To win in this league you have to have a great quarterback and that’s something we’re going to put our full focus and attention on.”

On what he knows and thinks about the roster: “There’s talent and that’s evidenced by the number of Browns that are over in Hawaii as we speak. Again, it will be a big job for our staff to evaluate that roster. The nice thing about it is there is some definite talent here, young talent here and we also have the ability to keep that talent here. That, to me, is one of the things that was most attractive about the job.”

On if his contract gives him a final say in roster decisions: “Again, those (contract) details are being worked out. So again, that’s not something I’m really qualified to speak about at this point.”

On what extent he weighted the negative perception of the job and what made him make the decision despite that: “Again, confidence in the information that I gathered of how committed this franchise is to winning, and again, the confidence in myself. Again, falling back to betting on me. There’s only 32 of these jobs in the world and these opportunities don’t come along often. People ask me, ‘Why didn’t you wait? There will be chances next year.’ I don’t know if I believe in that. Again, I looked at the situation as when you put all of the factors together this franchise is in position, given the right leadership, to win.”

On the best football or life lesson he learned from his father: “It would have to be only worry about things that you have control over. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed that advice in certain points in my career. When I was a junior, there was a teacher strike, I was his quarterback and we didn’t have any preseason practice. I was the starter and there was some people who didn’t think I should be the starter. They thought it was pure nepotism and that I was only out there because of him, and there was a petition being circulated that I wasn’t the starter. For me, that was a lot for a teenage kid to handle and it bothered me. It really started to affect me on the field. That’s when he grabbed me and said, ‘Listen, you have no control over that so don’t waste another second thinking about it or stressing about it. The things you have control over, focus on them and be full-speed ahead.’”

On when you left North Penn (High School), whether he envisioned being at this point after the sacrifices: “I wanted to get in the position where I was doing football full-time. I just wanted to work hard. I coached, especially early on, with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. Whether it was real or not, in my mind was thinking that people saw me as just a high-school coach. Here’s a guy trying to make it in the NFL, but he’s just a high-school coach in the NFL. And that drove me. Again, that might not have been the case at all, but in the back of my mind, I used that. But I never had a timetable for this. Just work hard and when that gets recognized you get promoted, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have things fall into place, and the planets get lined up and be standing here today.”

On the possibilities of retaining coaches from the previous staff: “That’s something that will be discussed. There is a high likelihood that we will retain some coaches.”

On if he had second thoughts about taking the job with the Ravens, doing menial things in his first NFL year: “Not for a second. I loved it. Again, I love all things football. And the fact that I was in the building, that I was able to be close to it and even later on at night where I was able to pick and do some of the quality-control stuff, I pinched myself every day.”

On why it will be different with him as head coach: “Because I have belief in the staff that we’re going to build, I have belief in the players and I have belief in the system that will be run here. Standards will be high, players will be held accountable. That formula has been applied other places and it’s been successful.”

On how quickly he can turn the organization around: “Again, I think that’s impossible to predict. We’re going to build a team that’s going to be capable of winning every game where we step on the field. We’re going to have confidence that we can win every game and we’re going to build a plan to win every game. How the numbers fall out or where the results are, I really can’t speak to that.”

On what he has to say to skeptical fans: “I don’t think that anything that I can say or do today, or for that matter up until the beginning of September, will matter. This is a bottom-line business and it’s all about winning. I’m not into winning press conferences. I just want the Cleveland fans to know that we’re going to put a team out on the field that they can be proud of. But again, I don’t want to win press conferences. It’s going to come down to the fall and winning football games.”

On the possibility of bringing in Jim O’Neil from the Bills as his defensive coordinator: “Jim’s currently under contract with the Buffalo Bills so that’s something I really can’t speak on at this time.”

On his first-hand views of the organization in the face of negative perception: “One of the things that was so attractive for me was when I sat in those meetings, how upbeat they were, the energy, how much passion there was, especially from Mr. Haslam, about wanting to win. And again as I mentioned, this is a bottom-line business. I think a lot of pieces are in place to do that.”

On his daughter’s earlier Twitter post: “I’ve been waiting for this question. We had a very long father-daughter chat after that one. She learned a very valuable lesson in the power of social media and again let’s not forget where she came from. Her formative years were spent in Baltimore, where she was trained to not be a Browns fan, so I hope that we can give her a little leniency that way. But she was mortified, called me hysterically crying one day after it happened. The thing that I think that she’s more upset about is that the team colors don’t really match what a 19-year-old wants to wear. My 12-year-old daughter has already expressed that as well. Brown and orange; they weren’t really happy about that. Getting back to my (older) daughter, we have a very special relationship. She sent me a text this morning that I think would have made most fathers cry. Again, she learned a lesson and that it was very valuable.”

On her current NFL allegiance: “She has no choice; she’s a fan now.”

Recent Articles