You can’t say you didn’t see this one coming.
The Browns hired Mike Lombardi, formerly of NFL Network, to be the next “Vice President of Player Personnel” for the Cleveland Browns. Essentially, Lombardi is Tom Heckert’s replacement as General Manager.
The move is quite the unpopular one in Cleveland, although fans have had an incredible amount of time to swallow the move. Back in August, when Jimmy Haslam originally bought the team, Lombardi to the Browns talk was already happening.
Lombardi surely may not be the most popular hire, but he does have an NFL resume.
In 1984, Lombardi got his first gig in the NFL as a scout for Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers. He worked in San Fran for three years until he got the job in Cleveland in 1987. We all know about Lombardi’s tenure in Cleveland, but I figured I would remind you anyways. Lombardi was hired as a Pro Personnel director for the Browns, but eventually moved his way up to the “Director of Pro Personnel” role, which was essentially the GM position. Lombardi was attached to Head Coach Bill Belichick at the hip. As his right hand man, Lombardi was responsible for all college and professional player personnel decisions. Of course, Lombardi was “responsible” for letting go of Bernie Kosar during his tenure, immediately giving Browns fans a bad taste in their mouth. After the Browns were sold to Baltimore, Lombardi had some odd-jobs with other clubs until he regained his footing and met his current employer, Joe Banner. Lombardi served as Director of Pro Personnel for the Eagles in 1998, helping with owner Jeffrey Lurie’s decisions, as well as financial and contractual issues. Lombardi was then offered the GM job in Oakland where he stayed until 2007. Lombardi’s drafting decisions were often criticized in Oakland, although he did help the Raiders to get to the Super Bowl in 2003. Lombardi’s low moment may have come when he drafted Jamarcus Russell at the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Lombardi was subsequently fired and has been an analyst on the NFL Network ever since.
Browns fans are skeptical of Lombardi’s ability, as he has had problems with drafting in the past. He has also bad-mouthed his current players, including Josh Gordon, the supplemental draftee who has sped his way into the hearts of Browns fans. He was quoted as saying that the Browns 2012 draft was “panic-stricken”, obviously referring to the selection of Brandon Weeden as the 22nd pick.
It was obvious that Lombardi was coming to Cleveland, thanks to his relationship with Joe Banner, but I guess that speculation does not equate to the actual hiring. During their press conference today, Banner and Haslam did not seem to be afraid of the public opinion of the hiring of Lombardi and Chudzinski, saying that wins will speak for themselves. As unpopular as many of their decisions have been, I certainly hope that they are right.
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