The Other New Face in Berea

Mike Holmgren is the talk of the town, but Browns fans were introduced to another "new" face last week. And that introduction, while unreported, was also an important one...

When your nickname is "The Big Show," a lot of other things – and people -- around you can get lost.

And so it was with new Browns team president Mike Holmgren's first face-to-face press conference with the Cleveland media on Tuesday. It was all Holmgren, all the time, which is what everyone expected, and what it should have been since he's now running the show – "The Big Show," to be more specific -- and he's the guy with three Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl ring.

He was the man everyone came to see.

One of the things that did go unnoticed was the first public appearance since he's been with the Browns of the team's new general counsel, Fred Nance. He is a big show, too, for without Nance, there would be no Mike Holmgren. For that matter, really, there would be no Browns.

A decade and a half ago, when Holmgren as head coach was taking Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls, Nance was successfully fighting the NFL on the behalf of the City of Cleveland for the return of a new Browns team after the original franchise bolted to Baltimore to become the Ravens following the 1995 season.

Nance, whose wife, Jacqui, ran the Browns' charitable arm, the Cleveland Browns Foundation, in the mid-2000s, was the first African American to be among the five finalists for NFL commissioner when Roger Goodell was hired in 2006.

So with all that, then, he already had a lot of credibility when he came to the Browns last month. But Nance enhanced that – greatly so – when he appeared at the Holmgren presser, serving as the Browns' point man, or master of ceremonies, as it were, to introduce the new "big-shot executive," as the president jokingly called himself.

Nance, who is extremely well-spoken and has the innate ability to capture an audience, spoke with style, grace, enthusiasm and excitement.

Holmgren was praised after the presser for being the first person the expansion era Browns have had who can, is willing to, and is allowed to, espouse a message, and is able to do it with believability because of his impressive resume.

If Holmgren is listed as No. 1 in that department on the team now, then Nance is 1.a. And that's good, for a franchise can never have enough credible wordsmiths, especially one that has struggled so much for so long since returning to the field in 1999.

Along with that, if Holmgren is the most important hire the new Browns have made, then Nance is 1.a. in that category as well. They make a good pair, which was evident at the presser.

"Good afternoon," Nance said with a wide smile, something that was really lacking at Browns Headquarters this season. "It is indeed quite an honor as one of my first official acts as a part of the Cleveland Browns organization to have the opportunity to present to you our new President, Mike Holmgren.

"I've had the opportunity during the course of finalizing his contract to get to know Mike a bit, and I have to tell you that all those reports are true. He is a man of vision, determination and, most of all, integrity. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He really doesn't need any introduction.

"That's why it is such a thrill for me to say on behalf of the people of the City of Cleveland, Mike, on behalf of all of us who kept the faith and knew that a better day was coming for the Cleveland Browns, on behalf of Cleveland Browns fans all over this nation -- indeed, all over the world – welcome, Mike Holmgren."

If this were something that did not involve media members, who, by definition, are supposed to remain objective, then the closing of Nance's introduction of Holmgren would have been when everyone applauded.

However, had it happened, then it would have been hard to tell if the people were clapping for "the Big Show," or for Nance's stirring and passion intro of him, or a little of both.

Whatever the answer, it bodes well for the Browns as they try to climb out of the hole into which they've fallen.


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