BEREA, Ohio. -- Jimmy Haslam said Friday that the Cleveland Browns have the right people in place with the hiring of John Dorsey as general manager and the retention of coach Hue Jackson.
Which Haslam, the Browns' owner, said before the season started about Sashi Brown and Jackson. Which Haslam also said when he hired Brown to head up the personnel department and Jackson after the 2015 season. And when he hired Mike Pettine as coach in 2013, then hired Ray Farmer to be his GM. And when he hired Rob Chudzinski, Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner, and on and on and on.
It's that track record that causes cynicism and skepticism about Haslam's moves. The same guy keeps making the moves and the same promises. He was invested in the Sashi Brown approach; he was the guy who set up that system and new approach.
Less than two years later he said he's invested in Dorsey and Jackson working together.
"We have not done a good job as owners," Haslam said with his new GM sitting next to him. "It has been hard, harder than we would have thought. I believe we have the right people in place, and in all organizations the key ingredient is people."
As it always has been.
Which is why Haslam said before the last season of Pettine and Farmer that the Browns were not going to blow it up if things did not go well. Well, he blew it up. He all but vowed the same thing before this season, and now he has a new GM.
As for Jackson, the owner said he is committed to him as the coach in 2018 -- and beyond.
"I wouldn't just zero in on '18," Haslam said. "We're planning on Hue Jackson being our football coach for a long time."
But Haslam has not fundamentally changed the structure that led to disagreements between Brown and Jackson. Chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta will stay with the organization -- and report to Haslam. Dorsey will have final say on the roster and the draft -- and report to Haslam. Jackson will have control of the team on game days -- and report to Haslam.
That structure led to bickering among equals, and there was no strong voice in the organization to stop it. Instead, Haslam praised Brown effusively one day after he fired him.
In Dorsey, Haslam may well have found the right guy. Dorsey is pure football. He's been a scout, a college scouting director, a player personnel director and a general manager. He emphasized the quarterback position and said a team can't win and advance without one (someone set off fireworks please!).
If the Browns were going to do an in-season search for a new GM, Dorsey would have been high on every list of those available. The same was true when Haslam hired Jackson as coach. So Haslam now has two hires who have experience in their jobs who are, in Jackson's words, "football lifers." In both cases, other teams would have hired each.
Jackson's record has been miserable, but he said with Dorsey he has an experienced personnel guy who will study and learn his system and find players who fit. Dorsey brings a glittering reputation as a straight shooter, a hardcore football guy and a sound talent evaluator.
But for Haslam this was a difficult news conference and an especially difficult time.
He has now hired his fourth GM/football operations guy since he took ownership of the Browns in October 2012. He watched as his beloved Tennessee Volunteers went through a coaching search reminiscent of the Browns' lowlights.
And the criminal trial in Tennessee about the Pilot Flying J rebate fraud scandal has produced damaging testimony, though it wasn't new to the federal investigators. On Thursday, the judge in the trial said he had heard unreleased recordings of former Pilot president Mark Hazelwood making what the judge called "vile, despicable, inflammatory racial epithets" about the Browns and the city of Cleveland.
Haslam said he had nothing to do with the Volunteers' coaching search, a statement that Tennessee folks treated like the Wizard of Oz saying "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
He was happy to answer the question about Pilot, the truck stop chain which Haslam's family controls.
"First of all, none of those individuals work for us anymore," Haslam said. "Nobody that works for our company now was present at that event. That's not how we act and do things, and those kind of remarks are intolerable."
Haslam also pointed out that neither he nor the company is on trial, and that it's typical for the company to pay the legal expenses of the former employees and that will continue.
He also said the past month has "been tough ... it's been real tough."
It no doubt has, but on a different level it has also been tough for Browns fans to watch a losing product year after year. It's also been tough for them to hear the same promises and vows that this is the time when the team finally has it right.
Dorsey's resume and approach indicate that he may in fact turn out to be the right guy. But it might be best to judge on Dorsey's actions rather than the words of the owner who said in July that Sashi Brown was one of "the right people" he had in place.