Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 1/18/13
BEREA, Ohio - The latest re-shaping of the perennially-losing and perpetually-changing Cleveland Browns, a process that officially started with new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner taking over last October, is now complete at the highest levels. Last week's hiring of Rob Chudzinski as head coach made sense, even as it didn't make much of a national splash. The newest and presumably last major move raises eyebrows. Michael Lombardi is in, officially, as vice president of player personnel. That means he gets a seat at the head table next to Banner. It's what Banner has had cooked up for months, a reunion with a friend from Banner's early days with the Philadelphia Eagles 15 years ago. For the second time in a week, the Browns introduced a man no other team was interviewing for a high-level job. Now, Banner's plan is out there. He's sticking his neck out, too. "Listen, I understand that I'm going out on the limb myself by hiring Mike," Banner said. "Time will tell if it's right or wrong, but I made (the choice) confidently and with my eyes open about the perceptions, about the realities, about my own time I spent with him. I feel comfortable with it." Hiring a top personnel exec who spent the last five years working in television and is remembered in Cleveland for his role in the release of Bernie Kosar 20 years ago is indeed bold. Lombardi felt compelled to start his introductory press conference Friday by saying he's a different person and a different evaluator than he was in Cleveland in the early 1990's. Lombardi knows his reputation, even admits part of it is fair. "If I was the same guy who was here 20 years ago," Lombardi said, "I would say that Jimmy and Joe shouldn't have hired me." That's one way to start. There's a reason NFL teams need a clean slate from time to time, and there are reasons the Browns seem to do this every other year. They need more players, better players -- lots of them -- and Haslam and Banner said Lombardi is the guy not just to find those players, but to build a winning team. Lombardi deserves that clean slate, too. The way the NFL is constantly changing, those 20 years since he was last here might as well be 200. And this version of the Browns isn't even the same organization it was back then. But Kosar's run of success in the late 1980s marks the last time the Browns had a quarterback, and that's the biggest reason the Browns have won a whole bunch of nothing in 14 seasons since re-entering the NFL. For what it's worth, Lombardi said he received a congratulatory text message from Kosar on Friday morning. For the sake of what's ahead, Lombardi said he'd only offer an evaluation on current Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden after he's watched a bunch more tape. As for Lombardi's on-air comment last season that the Browns drafting of Weeden last April was "a panicked disaster," Lombardi said, "I don't remember that." Good will will only come with good wins. Big wins. Lots of them. Haslam and Banner had better really believe what they were saying on Friday. Haslam: "Every person I talked to said...if you can get Mike Lombardi as your GM, you should hire him immediately." Banner: "We wanted somebody that understood how to put together a team, a consistent winner. Mike Lombardi will help us do this." Lombardi's track record with the NFL Draft is far from stellar. Only the Raiders have lost more games in recent years than the Browns have, and Lombardi's been working in media since the Raiders let him go in May 2007. Lombardi and Banner said they've often talked about working together again since Lombardi was fired shortly after the Eagles' ownership change in 1998. Banner said he viewed that not as a failure by Lombardi, but as "a change in administration and leadership of team and the desire to get their people. I didn't view it as a negative or positive about Mike as much as it was a desire to put together a team the new group was comfortable with." Banner said that no one in the Browns organization wields absolute power, that every decision will be a collaborative effort. Lombardi echoed that, as well as Banner's comments last week that Chudzinski will drive personnel decisions. Somebody will have to make the final call, and we'll see how that goes. "Weve all got to get on the same page and weve all got to work together," Lombardi said. "I think thats the most important thing. I hate to keep harking back to the Raiders, but titles were never important there. We just all worked. I think thats all we have to do." What we know now is that this call was clearly Banner's call, that Lombardi came ready to address his past and start anew with his future. Banner said Lombardi "was always a candidate," and Haslam said every recommendation came back glowing. This is what they have. Lombardi is who they have. "There are criticisms of Mike that are warranted based on who he had been," Banner said. "My assessment of my time with him is hes changed and I think all hes asking is for people to give him a fair opportunity and a fresh start ,and then make a judgment whether they feel what hes doing here both personally and professionally warrants them changing that opinion to the extent that they had it. "Thats all anybody is asking. Nobodys standing here telling anybody that those arent valid or they should just forget them. Weve made a judgment, give us a fair opportunity to be proven right or wrong."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker