Browns President Mike Holmgren met with reporters this afternoon at the team’s headquarters in Berea, reiterating his commitment to the organization and vowing to be more available to fans and media than he has been since he joined the franchise more than two years ago. Holmgren, who is in the third year of his five-year contract with the Browns, disputed the idea he’s not fully invested in his job.
“When I heard that, I was sensitive to that and it bothered me because if anything I think I care probably too much,” Holmgren said. “I’m committed. I made promises to our owner [Randy Lerner], and he’s kept his promises to me. Everyone is well aware of my contract situation and all that, and there was that [rumor] -- in fact a couple of you asked me at one point if I was going to CBS -- and for the life of me I don’t know where that came from. So, no, I’m committed here. [My wife], Kathy, and I, we love the community. The people here have been great to us. We like it here.
“Now the other reality is that, again my birthday is tomorrow, I’ll be 64 by the way, so I have some kicking to do still. But this is my last -- I’ve said -- great adventure. This is my last job, and it’s my hope and what I really want to do is make sure that this thing is turned around and going in the right direction, so I can come in here and we can talk about those things before I ever think about retiring. I am sorry that that came up. Maybe a little bit of what I’m gonna try and do [in terms of being more public] is a reaction to that ‘cause I felt about that. People that know me and people in the building, I think they know how much I care and how much I’m trying to get this thing to go in the right direction.”
Holmgren also addressed several other topics, including the team’s quarterback situation. Here are some more highlights from the news conference:
- Although the Browns are expected to name rookie Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, their starting quarterback at some point, Holmgren said he wants to first see the situation play out. “If you pick a player in the first round, you are saying something,” Holmgren said. “You’re telling everybody something. Now having said that, nothing gets handed to anybody and that’s essentially what I told him. But if he’s the player we think he is and can be, I think he has a chance to have a fine career in this league. But he’s gonna have to show us now. We believe that that can happen, but he has to come in and play. Now keep in mind, everything we’ve done [in practice] so far is in shorts and T-shirts and so on, and it’s a little easier to play the position when you know you’re not gonna get hit. Right now, it’s a healthy competition. It’s gonna be [coach] Pat [Shurmur’s] decision.” Holmgren said he doesn’t know the exact time when a starter should be named, but he doesn’t want Shurmur to wait until too close to the start of the season. “When the time comes, you kind of know,” Holmgren said. “There’s a practice, you’re approaching the preseason games or the regular season and you go, ‘OK, now to get whoever it is ready for that first game, we better make the decision.’”
- As far as the other quarterbacks are concerned, Holmgren said “right now, the plan is not to” move Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace before training camp. He later conceded “plans change,” and although the Browns could keep McCoy and Wallace, they’re open to listening should other teams inquire about a potential deal. Holmgren said he doesn’t think having Weeden, McCoy and Wallace on the roster when the season starts would create awkwardness. “As far as the individuals involved, whoever is the third quarterback … that guy he gets his feathers ruffled a little bit, which is understandable because they’re all competitive, they all have played in games,” Holmgren said. “But that’s the business. They’re big boys. They’ve gotta handle it.”
- Holmgren was asked about a rumor that spread last week about the Browns possibly being for sale. “The Browns are not for sale,” Holmgren said. “I talk to [owner] Randy [Lerner] all the time. I assume he’d tell me ‘cause we have a very open, honest relationship. No, there’s no truth to that.”
- To have a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back start in the same year is unusual in the NFL, but the Browns are expected to do just that this year with Weeden and Trent Richardson, the third overall pick. “Yeah, it is a somewhat unique situation,” Holmgren said. “But if you have to do it, these are the two young men I’d do it with.” Holmgren said Weeden “is as prepared to come in and start as a rookie as any quarterback I've seen in a long time because of his maturity and his age.” Holmgren said the biggest challenge for Richardson as a rookie will be adjusting as a pass blocker.
- The following are some other notes from Holmgren’s chat with the media: He conceded the wide receivers have been dropping passes in practices, and the Browns keep track of the drops. Still, he said they’re catching the ball better this year. … He said the Browns will wear brown and white jerseys this year during home games, likely splitting between the two colors and picking when to wear them based on the weather. … He reiterated his faith in Shurmur and said Shurmur had to deal with many things last year that most rookie head coaches don’t encounter. … He said “how the Browns view Jim Brown hasn’t changed and will never changed” despite the frosty relationship between the organization and the Hall of Famer. He said, “I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that. I would welcome him with open arms.”