Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has not overseen a winning team since his purchase of the franchise back in 2012. The Browns have only made the playoffs once since the expansion in 1999. So while the club creeps into those infamous corners of the record book, Haslam shook up the Browns by handing over daily operations to Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, a pair known more for their back office work and baseball acumen, respectively.
"Until we start winning, people are going to make fun of you," Haslam said Tuesday during the NFL Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., via Ohio.com. "So it's our job to get the right people in place to hopefully turn this thing around like we all want to see, and we're cautiously optimistic we've done that."
The biggest issue for the Browns right now is perseverance. DePodesta heard NFL team officials making fun of him at the airport following this year's scouting combine in Indianapolis. Brown takes constant, eye-roll worthy barbs about his lack of scouting experience and his preference for Harvard-educated leadership -- neither of which are entirely accurate despite the fact that the team's three highest-ranking executives (Brown, DePodesta and Andrew Berry, the team's vice president of player personnel) have degrees from the school.
So it goes in the NFL. Haslam will not be applauded for his study of successful franchises outside of football, and the Browns will not be patted on the back for finally trying to do something about decades of infighting and rapid employee turnover. Going through yet another two-year coaching cycle while attempting to mash personnel from some other scheme into a new playbook would have yielded the same result it always does.
This experiment may not work, but it is the most definitive attempt the club has ever made to shed themselves of the laughingstock moniker.
So for now, Haslam is fine with getting made fun of a little longer.
Browns fans may be jaded about the notion of a turnaround at this point. They've been sold on countless football minds over the years, each selling their own brand of miracle heal. Instead, nearly every regime has spent lavishly in free agency and drafted a quarterback that was hurled into a firestorm -- or created the firestorm. At least in that respect, things seem different now.