Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Intrigue involving the Cleveland Clowns "Braintrust"

The Cleveland Browns may take the prize for having the most bizarre and fascinating off-season in the NFL. Browns' owner Jimmy Haslam has set a tone of clownish buffoonery, and the franchise's off-season has been marked by false steps, mis-steps, blatant incompetence, tomfoolery, chicanery, skulduggery and hijinks of the most eyebrow-raising, head-shaking sort.

"Dysfunctional" has been the word most used in connection with the Browns, from the firing of head coach Rob Chudzinski, to the hiring of his replacement all the way through the front-office house-cleaning and now the latest story, which involves a possible trade for 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Considering Haslam's recent past as part of  the Steelers' ownership structure, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls can't help but wonder if he hasn't also had Mike Tomlin in his sights as a potential head coach -- and that would be maybe an even bigger coup than landing Harbaugh, considering that Tomlin has actually won a Super Bowl and is the current head coach of Cleveland's arch-rival.

For all that idle speculation, maybe a guy named Clowney would be the perfect first-round draft choice for the dysfunctional Browns. And Jadeveon Clowney just might be that draft choice, fourth overall. Based on his workout Monday at the NFL Combine, Clowney may go even higher than that -- but there are lots of questions associated with his work ethic and on-field productivity.

The more intriguing story is in Cleveland. On Friday, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports broke the story that the Browns initiated and conducted serious discussions with the San Francisco 49ers involving a possible trade of players, draft picks and cash for head coach Jim Harbaugh. The story has gained legs, and legitimacy, ever since.

Maybe the clownish buffoonery we've seen this off-season from Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam is just a smokescreen. For all we know, the truck-stop titan who found himself under a cloud of possible indictment last October may be Jethro Bodine smart, if the talk out of San Francisco and Cleveland the past dew days is any indication.

For insight into the scenario involving Haslam's overtures to the 49ers regarding Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion offers excellent context here. For all the success he's had in San Francisco the past few years, apparently Harbaugh is not generally well-liked, according to Ms. Killion:
The past few days have been all about Jim Harbaugh. He has trumped Johnny Football, Vladimir Putin, Jason Collins and even Tonya-and-Nancy. Which is just the way he likes it. Because, as Harbaugh knows, you can't spell, "the team, the team, the team," without "me, me, me."
And then there's this from Ms. Killion, which makes us wonder about Mike Tomlin's contract status:
"Harbaugh has two years left on a contract that pays him $5 million a year. Maybe he's not worth as much as Sean Payton, the league's highest-paid coach who has won a Super Bowl, but Harbaugh is worth more in the current NFL marketplace than he's making. He hasn't won a Super Bowl - and his team wasn't as good in 2013 as it was in 2012 - but he has rescued the 49ers' reputation and been to three straight conference-championship games. Yet he isn't among the top 10 highest-paid coaches in the NFL. He makes the same as Dallas' Jason Garrett, less than the Eagles' Chip Kelly and is the third-highest-paid coach in his division."
Stay tuned.

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