New Browns head coach Eric Mangini has shut down the lines of communication between the team, the media and the fans.
News-Flash! Eric Mangini is alienating the players and the coaching staff. Why? Because he is a tough SOB and seeks to change the complexion and attitude around the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio?
Mangini may not come across as personable in the face of a media gathering. Nor does the head coach appear poised to be one who is going to give away anything regarding his football team. Yes, his football team.
While Mangini may come across as being abrasive and reticent to discuss anything of interest, not many know the coach other than from his tenure in New York or his time as an understudy of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
This head coach is not going to offer up significant information that could jeopardize any scheme or on-field advantage he may believe to exist. Mangini is not an introvert; he can and will be personable, so long as it doesn't entail him discussing intricacies of his football operation, a player, or any of the inner workings of the organization.
I've had the opportunity to see, talk with and learn about every Cleveland head coach since Sam Rutigliano; Mangini deserves the opportunity to put his mark on this organization, regardless of whether the media or fans agree with him or not.
It has been a difficult stretch for Browns fans -- and those covering the team -- since the team's return in 1999. Anybody covering this team wants more information. Any fan wearing their colors has a need to feel assured this time will be different.
This is a new day, and I'm of the belief that it's a better one. Sure, some will say that I am being opportunistic, or that I am being a shill for the organization.
It's true, I am positive. I'm positive that Mangini is going to offer a different dynamic than what has been the norm in Cleveland. Will he succeed? No one knows.
However, if he doesn't, it won't be because he didn't lay every drop of himself into the job of transforming the Browns back into what was once a legendary organization -- long before the media and fans judged an organization on Super Bowl victories.
What would anybody really want Mangini to say in his press conference? What is there to say about a 4-12 team that he is in the process of evaluating, along with filling out his coaching staff and working toward stabilizing the structure within the organization?
Mangini and new general manager George Kokinis are not in the mode of slapping around for the sake of discussion anything and everything involving the Cleveland Browns. This is a Browns organization in dire need of direction, accountability and leadership -- all the key elements needed to build a responsible organization not seen in Cleveland since The Return.
Reports of Mangini not talking to the players have been significantly overblown. While many outside the game create the perception that Mangini is dividing the locker room, we've spoken to players and -- to a man -- there is no concern regarding not talking to the new head coach as of this time. Not one, single concern.
Players understand the nature of the beast, and know that change is not only a necessity, but a welcome occurrence for many of the players who currently wear the orange and brown.
Granted, many in the media and fans alike would like to have unabated access to the team and all its inner workings. Just give it up - this is certainly not going to occur. Part of the change is such to create a separation between what had become customary with the past regime and this new one. It may be perceived as non-caring organization, but that is a price that may have to be paid.
Believe me, the men at the top of the food-chain in Berea, Ohio,are not talking simply because they do not have much they want to say.
There will be a time when the new regime will come to the table and discuss the 'team'. That time was not at yesterday's press conference, although the media meet & greet was a sign that the organization is beginning to hear the voice of both the fans and those in the media clamoring for information.
In the end, it was just another day in the life of covering the Cleveland Browns, one in which no stories were hand-delivered to the press, and one we all should become accustomed to.
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