Report: Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi were at odds


The final days of Browns CEO Joe Banner and his hand-picked general manager Mike Lombardi were not a pretty picture in gray-skied Cleveland.

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Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported Thursday, citing league sources, that the duo "clashed over a number of things." It ultimately came to a complete "disconnect" during the team's elongated coaching search; a tangled front-office mess that ultimately led owner Jimmy Haslam to fire them both Tuesday.

By the time Mike Pettine had been named as Rob Chudzinski's successor, Banner "wanted to fire" Lombardi, according to the report.

Little did Banner know that Haslam was exhausted with both men; a change of heart fueled by Banner's reportedly rude behavior during sitdowns with candidates Ken Whisenhunt and Greg Schiano. Haslam also learned during the process that new Texans coach Bill O'Brien didn't want the job in Cleveland "because of either Banner, Lombardi or both."

Along the way, Banner was tweaked by the team's decision to bolt the Senior Bowl to speak with Schiano, The Plain Dealer noted. But Haslam overruled his CEO to follow the advice of Bill Belichick and Ohio State's Urban Meyer, who strongly recommended the former Buccaneers coach as a candidate.

Haslam also differed on the topic of Josh McDaniels. Cabot was told the owner prized the New England offensive coordinator as his top choice, while Banner held "reservations."

All the while, Lombardi was kept underground to almost mythical proportions, rarely appearing before the local media after Banner described him last March as a "lightning rod for criticism." In retrospect, a disastrous pairing from the start.

We unpacked Cleveland's chaotic week on the latest podcast, and opinions were spread across the map. Haslam clearly is learning on the job, and his inability to find the right team leaders out of the gate has brought a waterfall of negative attention on one of the NFL's oldest and proudest franchises.

Because he's in charge of the show, Haslam remains in place while countless minions are sent packing. We'd all agree that rooting out two bad apples was the correct move, but allowing them in the building in the first place is a reminder that Haslam faced a steep learning curve in Cleveland.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys huddle with Seahawks trio Michael Robinson, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant before unpacking Cleveland's week of chaos.