New Browns coach Mike Pettine insists he doesn’t give a bleep about ProFootballTalk.com’s report that the organization tried to trade for San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh before it hired Pettine on Jan. 23.
Pettine was alerted the report would surface Friday night, and he made his feelings about it known in an entertaining fashion this morning at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“When I got the phone call, I did a little bit of shoot the messenger,” Pettine said. “I said, ‘How does this affect my tenure as the Cleveland Browns head coach? Has that changed?’ The obvious answer was ‘no.’
“I think my next sentence, I either used the word ‘flying’ followed by something, or referenced a part of a rat’s body. I think that’s noise. That’s something that has no bearing on my job moving forward.
“What it tells me is that the Cleveland Browns have a desire to win and get this team back to a championship level. To me, it shows the commitment. But as far as how it affects me and my approach to how I'm going to coach this football team and how we are moving forward, [it] has zero effect.”
According to ProFootballTalk.com’s report, a deal that would have sent multiple draft picks to the 49ers was in place between the teams, but Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave San Francisco.
The Browns are not denying the report, even though 49ers owner Jed York did via Twitter Friday night and Harbaugh told CSN Bay Area, “I know nothing about a trade with the Cleveland Browns and us involving me.”
Pettine spoke as if the report is true.
“When you look at it, it shows that the [Browns] organization is committed to getting it turned around, that it would investigate that option,” Pettine said. “I see that as a positive.”
But he also acknowledged such news can be a distraction.
“A big part of being an NFL head coach is dealing with the noise, dealing with the distractions," Pettine said. "Just add that one to list.”
Asked if it seems like there’s more noise in Cleveland than other places, Pettine said, “That is potentially an accurate statement. I’d like to think it’s going to get quiet. That’s my goal, is to quiet the noise. … It’s my goal to get the staff I’ve hired moving forward and we can quiet things down and go about the business of winning football games.”
Considering the noise, is Pettine asking himself what he got himself into by becoming coach of the Browns?
“No, because that’s negative,” said Pettine, who coached high school football in Pennsylvania before he entered the NFL as a video assistant for the Baltimore Ravens in 2002. “To me, this is a dream come true. I pinch myself every day. I wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’m the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. I can’t wait to get to work.’ There’s so much negative. You can get overwhelmed by it. I don’t see it that way. I know I’m very blessed to be here, that my path was different and I think that’s helped motivate me. I’m the proverbial guy from the mailroom.
“I don’t have the pedigree like some other coaches have that were former players or big college name coaches. I feel like I’ve worked my way up and had a lot to overcome. I think that’s helped motivate me. That’s been a chip on my shoulder, whether it’s real or perceived, I’ve always been, ‘That guy was just a high school coach’ or ‘That guy was just getting [New York Jets coach] Rex [Ryan’s] coffee.’ That’s what’s motivated me, and to me, that’s a big part of why I’m here today.”