Jimmy Haslam: Browns front office, coaches share 'common goal'


The timing wasn't lost on Jimmy Haslam as he sat at a conference table Wednesday with a handful of reporters.

On the one-year anniversary of announcing sweeping changes to the Cleveland Browns organization, Jimmy Haslam reaffirmed his confidence in the staff he assembled and discussed how a recent retreat with his four closest confidants provided "the best week we've ever had" since he took control in 2012.

Haslam stressed the outside perception of the organization as "dysfunctional" was the opposite of what he encountered in his daily dealings as owner of the Browns.

"That couldn't be further from the truth," Haslam said. "The key people, I promise you, like coming to work, are here early, work late and work well together.

"We do get along, we do work well together, we've got a common goal."

Haslam stressed he understands the skepticism because of the Browns' win-loss record and constant turnover since the franchise returned in 1999. Winning, he said, will be the only way to change it, but he pulled plenty of positives from a season that, despite a sour finish, produced the best record since 2007.

It went without saying: There won't be a press conference to announce sweeping changes to the front office like there was last year, and Haslam doesn't expect a similar get-together any time in the near future.

"I think any organization or management setup, you have to continually evaluate, but I'm really comfortable with the people we have in place and the structure," Haslam said. "Despite the public reports, this is a very cohesive organization headed in the same direction where everybody understands their roles. We think we have the right people in the right place to succeed."

Haslam emphasized that belief repeatedly when he discussed general manager Ray Farmer. One year since he was promoted from assistant general manager to his current position, Farmer is at the center of an NFL investigation involving improper use of a mobile device during a game.

Haslam said Farmer has his and the organization's full support and the results of the investigation will not affect his standing with the Browns.

"He's totally focused on doing whatever we're going to do in free agency and more importantly getting our organization ready for the draft," Haslam said. "He's had his entire scouting team in this week and they're solely focused on getting ready for the draft."

Farmer and Haslam were joined on the retreat by team president Alec Scheiner, coach Mike Pettine and Sashi Brown, the club's Executive Vice President, General Counsel. Haslam called the three-day session in Florida, which included a clarification of roles and overall team strategy, "very productive."

Haslam called Scheiner, who heads the Browns' business dealings and community efforts, as "one of the most competent guys in pro sports, not just the NFL," while lauding Pettine for his smarts, toughness and ability to relate with players.

"Healthy debate" among the group is common, Haslam said, but he doesn't see it as a concern.

"That's part of it," he said. "If you don't have healthy debate, either people don't care -- and I can assure everybody here does care -- or if all five of us agreed on everything, there'd be something up. I don't see anything wrong with that.

"I personally think healthy debate is positive. I have healthy debate with Mike and Ray, but I don't look at that as a negative and I don't think they do."

As he has multiple times since assuming ownership of the team, Haslam reiterated the "learning curve" that comes with owning a professional franchise for the first time. He said he hopes to discuss it less and less as he grows more comfortable with the position.

"Hopefully we'll do a better job leading the organization than we have in the past," Haslam said.

"It takes a little time to put things together. I think we did a reasonably good job the first year, I think we were a lot better the second year and better than that the third year."

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