No Hard Knocks in Cleveland

While the Bengals may be allowing HBO into their locker rooms, Eric Mangini says with no room for response: "No way".

Hard Knocks for the Browns someday?


At least not while Eric Mangini is head coach.

The AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals are this year's willing participant to be the subject for ESPN's popular Hard Knocks series that gives an inside look – a really inside look, in some instances – at NFL teams. Asked if he would consider volunteering the Browns for such duty someday, Mangini said simply and succinctly during OTAs, "No."

He added, "I think the more you just focus on what you're doing -- and this isn't a judgment on anyone that does it at all – then the better off you are. For me, personally, I'd rather have less cameras in the meeting room."

As he said that, he looked at a line of cameras at the back of the media room. That was more than enough for him.

But to be fair to Mangini, he certainly isn't the first Browns head coach who has been a firm believer that less is more when it comes to media exposure. Mangini's mentor, Bill Belichick, would have barred the media completely for all five of his seasons in Cleveland if he thought he could have gotten away with it. He closed off media access in a lot of ways that had been present in the tenure of his predecessor, Bud Carson, and of those before Carson.

Butch Davis, who coached from 2001 until late in the '04 season when he resigned, slammed the door shut, too. WKYC-TV, which has had the rights to telecast Browns preseason games during the expansion era, approached Davis with the idea of following him around with a camera to document the life of an NFL head coach getting ready on game day for a preseason contest.

After the TV representative gave his long, detailed description of what the process would consist of, he asked Davis, "So, Coach, you go ahead and think about it for a while and then let us know what you think, OK?"

Before the rep could even turn around and walk away, Davis replied tersely and dryly, "I've already thought about it, and the answer is no."

"No." Whether the coach is Davis or Mangini, that one word doesn't leave much – if any – room for debate.

Sam Rutigliano and Blanton Collier may be two of the more accessible and accommodating coaches the Browns have ever had. In 1981, Rutigliano granted permission for The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Browns beat reporter, Russ Schneider, to interview Browns offensive coordinator Jim Garrett before each week's contest about the general parts of the game plan. Needless to say, that lasted only that one season. Was there any coincidence the Browns slipped from 11-5 the year before to 5-11? Who knows? But it probably don't help the situation.

And in the 1960s, when the Collier-coached Browns were regularly going to playoff and championship games, fans used to line the field to watch practice that particular week. Getting that inside look in the flesh of a team – the local team -- in the postseason had to be a whole lot better than getting it of an out-of-town club by watching some taped TV series.

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