Jimmy Haslam (2.5.20)

Jimmy Haslam:

On confidence the Browns’ future results will be different with Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry, given the team’s familiarity with Berry during his previous tenure in Cleveland:

“Yeah, I think it is obvious that we would try to compare when Andrew was here versus now, but to me, it is a totally different situation. Let’s start with we did not have a quarterback then and we have a quarterback now, and that just means a world of difference. We did not have the good core group of young players that we do have now so we are in a much different situation than we were then. Andrew was responsible for picking some of those players – i.e., (DE) . Myles (Garrett), (QB) Baker (Mayfield), (CB) Denzel (Ward) – that form the core of our team. I think we have a really good head coach in Kevin Stefanski. Like I have said numerous times and you all probably here get tired of me saying it, just the way this group will work together – we had a day and a half offsite meeting on Monday afternoon and night and all day yesterday – it will be distinctly different than before. A high degree of confidence. Obviously, Kevin and Andrew are both young. They will have bumps in the road. The NFL is hard as you all know but a high degree of confidence that we have the right people in place.”


On how the dynamic between Stefanski and Berry will be different than previous relationships between football operations and the coaching staff:

“I think you all know me well enough, we never say anything bad about people that are not here. I just think you have really smart people with low egos who continually want to learn and get better, do not care who gets the credit and it is all about winning. I can’t say it any more basic than that.”


On what about Berry’s previous tenure with the Browns made the team keep an eye on him and his career:

“I remember when we were down in Mobile for the combine and we interviewed Andrew. I called (Pro Football Hall of Fame GM/executive) Bill Polian fairly late at night at the combine, and he called back very late. I said, ‘Tell me about Andrew Berry.’ At the time, he was only 28 years old. He said there is no doubt that he will not only be a good GM but he will be a great GM, and you could see it at an early age. It is what I said when I was up [at the press conference podium] – he is smart, he has great character, a high drive for results, a tremendous work ethic, a low ego, an easy guy to be around and a good person. It is everything I said. Listen, he is 32 and he is going to think back to when we were all 32, and he is going to learn and he is going to make some mistakes but a really high degree of confidence that he will be a really good GM for a long time to come.”


On what it means to him to hire the youngest GM in NFL history:

“We thought about it because 32 is young. It is younger than most, but I think there are a lot of successful people who got a break at an early age, whether it be in the NFL, in business or whatever. We are excited about it and comfortable that we will have people around Andrew who will help him as he grows and develops.”


On Berry wanting to return to Cleveland:

“It is good. I think Andrew knows and understands the situation. I think and he spoke to it, he knows Kevin well and he knows (Chief Strategy Officer) Paul (DePodesta) well so he understood very well what he was getting into. I think he was excited to work with the two of them.”


On how hard the Browns tried to keep Berry last year, given the team did not expect to be hiring a new GM in 2020 at that time:

“That is a good point. We felt it was a good opportunity for Andrew, and we are never going to stand in the way of our people learning and advancing their career. Obviously, when he went there, we did not think he was going to be coming back less than a year later as GM, but I do think it was a good growth experience. I think he learned under (Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager) Howie (Roseman). I think he got exposed to not only personnel, which is how he grew up, but also football operations. I think he was fortunate and we were fortunate that he had that year’s worth of experience with the Eagles.”


On how troubled he was by the RB Kareem Hunt situation:

“It is not good. Kareem knows he has got to better. Kevin and Andrew have talked to him about it, and I will just leave it at that. What he did was not acceptable. He has to do better.”


On differences in Berry compared to last year:

“I will let Andrew speak a little to that. Listen, he has worked with Bill Polian. He worked with (former Colts General Manager Ryan) Grigson. He worked here with (former Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Shashi (Brown) and (former Browns General Manager) John (Dorsey) and then he went to go to work with Howie there. I just think every GM, every leader-manager does things differently. Like I said, he got exposed to the operations part, and Philly does things a little differently in terms of how they manage things. I will let him get into the details, but I just think it was a really good exposure for him to spend that time away.”


On if there are one or two things that made Berry stand out during his interview:

“That is a good question. He came in and interviewed and did a really nice job. I think it was the Friday before we hired him and we actually hired him on a Monday and it was a Friday before, people come in and visit and it is a little hectic and you ask a lot of questions. We reflected back on the questions and asked the question, ‘What concerns us? Etc.’ I won’t go into details. It would not be fair to anybody. Spent about an hour or an hour and a half on the phone going through, ‘Well, what about this?’ or “What about this?’ and “How are you going to handle this?’ He just handled it very forthrightly, very honestly. I thought he answered the questions well. We hung up from that conversation, thinking, ‘OK, this is the guy that we want to hire.”


On if there is a team that the Browns aimed to replicate with the organization’s current structure and hires:

“I think a different way to answer it would be we have always tried to be intellectually curious, ask a lot of questions and the continuous learning, starting in our business background and now coming to sports. There is not one company that has or one team that has cornered every good idea. I think every team or there are several teams in the NFL I should say that do things well, and we tried to learn from those teams that did things well. I think that is probably a better way to look at. Going through this process – I can’t say this enough – the seven other head coaches we interviewed beside Kevin and the two other GM candidates we interviewed aside Andrew, you learn a ton when you spend a day [with them]. They are all coming from successful organizations. They are all successful in their own right. We learned a lot.”


On what is being done to ensure Hunt does not veer off track off the field again:

“That is an internal manner. We have and will continue to work closely with Kareem, but he knows our expectations are higher than what he showed a week or two ago.”


On confirming the Browns want Hunt to return to the team:

“If Kareem can lay out and follow the expectations that we have laid out for him.”


On characterizing WR Odell Beckham Jr’s. first season with the Browns and if he believes Beckham will be part of the team moving forward:

“Absolutely. Odell is extremely talented. He was hampered by the groin injury. Listen, he could have done some things better and we could have done some things better. I think Kevin is very excited to have Odell on the team. The surgery went well, he is rehabbing and we look forward to having him and being a big, big producer for the team this year.”


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