Browns General Manager Ray Farmer faced the national media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Thursday morning, mostly discussing the topic of the so called “Text-gate” that has cast a shadow over the Browns organization since news broke several weeks ago. Farmer opened his time with the media by apologizing.
“First and foremost, I would like to extend an apology to the Cleveland Browns fans,” Farmer said. "So that everybody hears it from my mouth, it was me and to that degree, I have apologized to the people in the building, Coach Pettine, Jimmy Haslam and the rest of the staff and everyone that was involved from our side, football-wide.
“They understand what happened and to that degree there’s an open investigation from a police perspective, so there’s not a lot of commentary there,” he said. “But I will tell you that I take full responsibility for myself and my actions and the things I have learned from that there is a platform to have those things talked about and discussed, but I misplayed that platform. It’s something I’ve learned from and something I’ll be better at. I’ve corrected that mistake.”
Before taking questions, Farmer wanted to stress his disappointment for his actions.
“What I’d really like to say is one, I’d like to apologize to Jimmy Haslam, the fans and the football staff.”
Farmer wouldn’t share any details on the texts, but did say that his emotions got him in trouble.
“I know I made a mistake and I’m owning up to it,” Farmer said. “It’s not an excuse but in my case sometimes emotions get the best of you.”
Farmer and the Browns have not heard what punishment they will receive for Farmer’s actions.
“The decision is (the league’s hands),” he said.
Mike Pettine was asked about his relationship with Farmer on Wednesday and admitted he was not happy when he learned about the texting situation.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about it,“ Pettine said. ”Ray and I have had very clear and open conversations about it. I think, as you guys will see when you talk to him. He’s apologized not just to myself, but to other members of the organization.
“In-game is very emotional,” he said. "I’m not going to go into my initial reaction, but at the same time I’m very comfortable with my relationship with Ray. That hasn’t changed. We see things very much the same. It’s a mistake, he admits it. A lot of it is deeply rooted in his competitiveness.
“I think if you polled all the GMs, those three or four hours on Sunday might be the toughest of the week. It’s an unfortunate thing and we’re waiting for the league to hand down the punishment for it. Whatever it is, we’ll abide by it.”
Farmer did say that he and Pettine have put it behind them and are on the same page.
“No relationship mending with,” Farmer said. “Coach Pettine and I work really well together. We’ve had our conversations and worked through what that was. I know he expressed disappointment and we had those conversations and we’re moving full steam ahead.”
Last week, Haslam offered Farmer his full support in light of the texting scandal and explained why he would stay the course with Farmer.
“Ray’s smart,” Haslam said. "He works hard. I think he understands football. He’s been in football all his life. he relates extremely well to players. He knows it not only from a personnel standpoint but how a game should be managed. I think he’s an exceptional human being.
“As bad as I hate this (text situation) for the organization, I hate it more for Ray Farmer,” he said. “I can tell you it eats him up every day. I’m very comfortable with the job he’s doing.”
Farmer did admit he was very grateful for the support he received from Haslam.
“That was very helpful,” Farmer said. “Jimmy is a good man, a good owner and his support was monumental to me. It felt really good from my behalf to hear Jimmy’s comments.”
Farmer also addressed some other topics, including the drafting of Johnny Manziel. Farmer was asked if the personnel side has made changes. Farmer stated that not being hired as general manager until February didn’t allow him to have everyone that he wanted to have in place.
“We’ve made changes,” Farmer said. “We’ve made our adjustments and I think we’ll be more prepared this year because of the different time frame of me having the positions for a year, instead of getting that appointment late February last year.”
Farmer said that he and his staff knew there were questions about Manziel, but felt they were worth the risk.
“We understood what people would call ‘Red Flags’ and made that decision as a Browns organization and that does fall on me as the general manager and I make that selection,” he said.
Farmer did commend Manziel for seeking treatment.
“Good for him that he stepped up and said he needed help and he’s going to get that help.”
Moving forward, Farmer would not confirm nor deny that he has talked with soon-to-be free agent Brian Hoyer about returning. He said his conversations are personal and that would have to come from Hoyer or his agent, Joe Linta.
Farmer would not divulge if the team is talking with free agent quarterback Josh McCown or any other specifics at quarterback other than to say “Every option is on the table.”
Farmer did say that the search for a quarterback is ongoing.
“That plan never ceases to exist,” he said. “The easy way to say it is we’re going to drive competition at every spot.”
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