This past Monday, Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam met with their players en masse to offer support and context, while also detailing their thoughts on the trying season, sources say.
It was not the first time the Haslams have met with the team, having done so as it related to the anthem controversy and other issues. But this talk was memorable in particular because of the message.
Essentially, the Haslams told the players they knew rebuilding would take time and while everyone wants to win, their work and effort down the stretch was appreciated. The wins haven't come, but the owners wanted the players to know that this a process.
The Haslams have been realistic about how much time it can take to go from last to respectable to a winning program. And while the players don't necessarily want to hear that -- they are competitive, losing has been frustrating -- the owners wanted to reassure them that their fight has not gone unnoticed.
For players in that locker room, it's been tough. Many appreciated the talk, while others are just sick of losing and no pep talk would have mattered. The Haslams implored their players to continue to give the same effort down the stretch.
In general, it has not been an easy season in Cleveland to say the least. Or two seasons. One win (1-24) in the Sashi Brown/Hue Jackson regime will do that. There clearly has been frustration exhibited inside the building, and that's natural. Some moments -- the failed AJ McCarron trade, for one -- have led to expected angst.
Toward the end of the season, there will be more important meetings. The Haslams have remained supportive of Jackson, who was among the top 10 highest-paid coaches when he was hired. But he has also watched the team get torn down to the ground to rebuild, more so than anyone expected.
The belief is, with an eye toward 2018, that Jackson will want some say in the collaborative effort of picking players. It's not that he wants more power -- he agreed upon the power structure when he signed on and is fine with it. He's seen coaches thrive in similar power structures, notably Marvin Lewis with the Bengals.
But Jackson is believed to want to have his voice heard alongside executives such as Brown, Andrew Berry, Paul DePodesta and others. Other sources counter this by saying Jackson has been involved throughout the key discussions, though there have been some disagreements. There have also been some game-management issues, which Jackson has addressed publicly, that have contributed to the winless season.
Clearly, with no wins, everyone is to blame.
The week began with an important discussion led by the owners. After the season ends, the key decision makers on the Browns will have plenty more important talks.