'Worst Kept Secret' Speaks, Ushers In New Era

The Browns franchise re-boot took another big step forward this morning, as new General Manager George Kokinis was presented to the media. The OBR's Fred Greetham was there and brings us the details...

Berea -- It was one of the worst kept secrets around.

George Kokinis officially succeeds Phil Savage as the Browns' general manager.

Kokinis, 41, said he's very excited to get to work, but it was important to go through the process.

"It is great and when you get the chance to work with someone you really respect, it's even better," Kokinis said. "Chemistry and being on the same page as the head coach certainly was an attraction."

Eric Mangini said that it was important for the two to spend time together in the past couple of weeks to make sure they were still able to co-exist.

"It was a big part of the process," Mangini said. "I didn't think it would be different, but until you've dealt with those situations and hashed them out, you don't know."

Kokinis did say he would have final say in the 53-man roster, but downplayed the whole situation.

"All decisions will be made together," Kokinis said. "I will have final say, but what's important is we have a consensus."

Mangini said the chemistry between he and Kokinis was very important.

"The chemistry is so critical," he said. "We may agree to disagree, but there will be give and take in our ideas."

Kokinis said that Randy Lerner was very thorough in the hiring process, to try and make sure he got it right.

"Randy cares about this football team," he said. "He wants it to be great and that's important to him. That's important to me.

"Why am I here? I do believe in this owner. He wants the Browns to be great. I believe in this head coach. When you break down those core beliefs that's, what coach Mangini is. I believe in the fans of Cleveland. The Cleveland fans care about their Browns. There's nothing like a city rallying around their football team.

"I want to create a championship caliber football team."

Kokinis said part of the delay in him joining the Browns was his commitment to the Ravens. He said he would've stayed with the team until after the Super Bowl, if the Ravens would've made it.

"I had a commitment to the Ravens and that was part of it," he said. "That's what you work for—the Super Bowl.

"The process was a three-phase process. I had a meeting with Randy and Mike (Keenan).The second part was coming here and meeting with Eric," he said. "I think it went both ways to see if I had a comfort for my new surroundings. I came from a place that I really didn't have to leave. There had to be a comfort level.

"To follow up and meet with Randy one more time with Ernie Accorsi was part of that process. It was thorough."

Kokinis was asked about hiring the coach before him.

"(Randy) nailed the decision," he said. "We believe in the same core values, in terms of what it takes to build a championship team."

Several questions were made regarding the current team's roster, but Kokinis repeatedly side-stepped the question.

"I don't want to go into the process of evaluating the football team at this point," he said. "We want to get the coaching staff in place and go from there.

"I don't think there is any time table to put on a team. You start with Day One and try to get better every day. We're going to try to do that."

When pressed for a general answer on the talent level, Kokinis did say the Browns had some talent.

"I think there is some skill level on this team, I do," he said. "Overall, there's skill and talented, capable players on this roster."

Other questions asked to Kokinis during the process...

Thoughts on moving forward with one or two quarterbacks:

Kokinis: "Both of those quarterbacks have skill levels. (OC) Brian Daboll is a part of the process and (QB coach) Carl Smith is part of it. The best teams fit what the coaches want to do."

On the scouting staff:

Kokinis: "I have no set agenda on the scouts. They are going to be relied upon to be dedicated and prepare for the draft."

Why the move to GM now?:

Kokinis: "For me, it was the natural move. I've been afforded the opportunity to see so many facets of the job and thought it was the natural move for me."

Will you be the face of the franchise?:

Kokinis: "Everybody has their own style. I didn't come in and say in terms of being the voice of the team. It's a consensus situation and when all the facts are brought together, it will be what is best for the Cleveland Browns. You'll hear me say that a lot."

Do you feel you're behind on the college scouting process?:

Kokinis: "At this point, the college process is very familiar to me. I've actually used the same system. I don't feel anxious about the process because the system is the same."

Do you feel missing the Senior Bowl will set you back?:

Kokinis:"I think it was more important to get the process right (than be at the Senior Bowl)."

Will you name a personnel director?:

Kokinis: "I'm going to run the meetings right now. I've worked with a lot of the scouts and we want people to come together and rely on our own people."

Do you plan on building through the draft or free agency?:

Kokinis: "I do plan on making excellent decisions from the pro side. It's important to build this team through the draft. "

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