It's pretty rare when Browns' Team President Mike Holmgren descends from his office to address a salivating Cleveland media in the middle of a season. So far during his short tenure with the Browns, Holmgren has served as more of a troubleshooter rather than the official voice of a wayward franchise. As such, the timing of Holmgren's latest media address is a bit suspicious – meaning that something is amiss in Berea.
Historically, this means that one of the following events has just occurred.
a) A new quarterback was just drafted.
b) Somebody screwed something up.
c) Somebody named Pat Shurmur screwed something up.
d) It's December and on the Browns' calendar, this time of year is usually reserved for announcements regarding wholesale management changes.
e) Page views are down and the media is out for blood.
But then again, as the expansion Browns have faltered on the field, the team's public relations department has proven equally incompetent. The past several days have been dominated by talk relating to the organization's mishandling of quarterback Colt McCoy's concussion – which not coincidentally brought Holmgren out of hiding on Wednesday to calm the storm in Berea.
However, even someone as respected in football circles as Holmgren couldn't offer the kind of salve that most were hoping to find.
Holmgren's Opening Statement
"Good morning everybody. I know you're disappointed Pat's (Shurmur) not here so I am pinch hitting. I thought it was necessary today to kind of set the record straight as I can about some of the things that have been happening the last few days. He will catch up with you after practice regarding football stuff."
Holmgren's Opening Statement – Hyper Analysis
Shurmur is still cowering in some Berea shower stall – trying to wash the stain of Monday's press conference off his body.
Holmgren Recounting McCoy's Injury
"They went out as typical procedures, they got out to him and Colt was lucid, he was talking, his body language I guess doesn't look real great, but Mark was looking at his face and his eyes, Joe was looking at the rest of him and he's complaining of his hand."
Holmgren Recounting McCoy's Injury – Hyper Analysis
All that's needed to be said about this entire issue has been said. First, everything happens at warp speed in football – which means mistakes will be made. Second, in the moment, concussions won't be taken seriously because removing a player from the game impacts the bottom line. Anyone writing anything more than this regarding concussions is just engaging in useless moralizing.
Seriously, football writers need to get over themselves. Football is a game of conflicts and in this case, one huge contradiction. After all, we're preaching safety concerns in a game designed around violent collisions. Grow up.
Finally, in McCoy's case, it's amazing – and quite fortunate – that he has literally survived the season. Of course, it's worth asking what type of damage McCoy is doing to himself in the process.
Or maybe not.
Holmgren on Other Concussions
"Now, Colt is home today, we sent him home. We are following the weekly protocols by league standards regarding concussions and he still has a headache, but other than that, from what they tell me, he's good. But, we're following protocols with Watson, we're following protocols with Owen."
Holmgren on Other Concussions – Hyper Analysis
Speaking of which – McCoy is not the only Brown to suffer a concussion this season. In a year that is now rapidly deteriorating, several players have suffered similar injuries, including veteran tight end Ben Watson. Some reports suggest that Watson has now suffered three concussions in less than two seasons with the Browns.
Yet, because Watson is not as high-profile a player as McCoy, no one seems to blink at this unfortunate notion. Similarly, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has taken a vicious beating over the past two seasons. Yet, like Watson – Massaquoi's name is only mentioned through his association with James Harrison a season ago.
Evidently, there are limits on media morality.
Holmgren on the Sideline View of McCoy's Injury
"But, guys get on the sideline and all of a sudden you see that he throws the ball and you're watching the ball, you're watching (Montario) Hardesty and all of a sudden you hear, 'Oooh,' you look back and Colt is on the ground. It's conceivable and I think it happened, but a lot of guys didn't actually see the thing on the sideline as hard as that is to believe."
Holmgren on the Sideline View of McCoy's Injury – Hyper Analysis
But then again, in the Browns' offense, the ball only travels four yards at a time.
Holmgren on When the Medical Staff Realized a Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Occurred
"There's a lot of stuff that goes on. This was kind of out in the open, it's the quarterback. The doctors, I don't know exactly the time and you know what, that's not that important."
Holmgren on When the Medical Staff Realized a Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Occurred – Hyper Analysis
They probably should have realized it when James Harrison stepped on the field.
Holmgren on His Public Role With the Browns
"I do a fair amount behind the scenes, but in defining what my role is here, in my defining what my role is here, was to hire good people, let them work and support them the best way I can. That's why I'm not having a press conference, that's why I don't have a radio show, some people do I suppose. I've done that, I did it for 25 years, I don't want to do that anymore. I just assume support, help build up and get it where it's supposed to be behind the scenes a little bit. If something requires me to be here, like I think today did, I will be here."
Holmgren on His Public Role With the Browns – Hyper Analysis
And once again, every logical thinking Browns' fan should bang their head against the wall. Holmgren's words here point to the management vacuum that has existed ever since Randy Lerner inherited the Browns from his father. Much in the same way that neither Eric Mangini or George Kokonis knew their roles two years ago – or in the same manner that John Collins and Phil Savage cut each other's throats six years ago – nothing has really changed in Berea.
Holmgren – who essentially is the closest thing to an organizational leader the Browns have had during the expansion era – has just admitted – or "assumed" that he's not sure what his public role is with the Browns. Considering the implications of his hire, shouldn't this have been addressed a long time ago? Or, considering the beating the Browns' image has just taken – wouldn't this make a prime opportunity to establish some parameters?
But then again, such thinking would suggest that only someone above Holmgren could make such a decision.
Does this team even have an owner anymore?
Holmgren on If Shurmur Will Be Head Coach in 2012
Holmgren on If Shurmur Will Be Head Coach in 2012 – Hyper Analysis
It is that time of year. Browns fans have become conditioned to two December events: passively watching the Browns get destroyed by their AFC North rivals and looking ahead to coaching and management changes.
Unfortunately for Browns fans this season, only the former is occurring.
The entire past week has validated the idea that the Browns still lack a clear authority presence at the top of their organization. Perhaps Holmgren is accomplishing things "behind the scenes", but then again it's more probable that the Browns are being run by two rookies – one who is the Team President and the other serving as Head Coach.
What a difference a year makes. Think back to a year ago – or even more recently – when many suggested that Holmgren would assume head coaching duties over a vastly improved roster. Now – there's no one even hinting at such a possibility. In this sense, Shurmur's star has again dramatically risen.
Holmgren on An Ideal Finish
"I'd like to win a couple of these down the stretch. I had a situation in Seattle I think year three or four where we were exactly the same way. We were 4-9, Hasselbeck was new, we had three playoff teams if I remember correctly. We had Atlanta, San Diego and somebody else to play in the last three games, good teams, I'm going, 'Boy, this is going to be tough,' and we won all three. Matt kind of established himself, threw for a lot of yards, did some stuff and really was the spring board for the future there. They also removed me from the general manager's job after that game, which I don't agree with to this day, but I'm over it."
Holmgren on An Ideal Finish – Hyper Analysis
So, in two seasons, the Browns will finish 7-9 and Holmgren will be a distant expansion memory.
Sounds about right.