As Joe Banner goes from meeting to meeting and decides what may be necessary to bring championships to Cleveland, the Browns new CEO wrestles with conflicting emotions.
He’s knows change can be painful. He also knows it’s usually essential.
This isn’t easy.
“Some people will fit and some people won’t,” he said. “I understand that for everybody here I kind of have their immediate future in my hands and I feel bad.
“You don’t really want to create that kind of stress for people. But there’s no other way to do it. And in the end, we have to make whatever we think are the right decisions for the organization and hopefully do it in a fair and compassionate and transparent way.”
On the job for only a few weeks, Banner, hired by new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, has spent his first weeks pouring over documents, conducting interviews and analyzing every aspect of a once-proud franchise that has had little success for nearly two decades. Tough decisions, ones that could impact people he has known for years, lie ahead.
For Banner, this is business in the NFL.
He came to Cleveland after spending 19 seasons with Philadelphia, where he helped transform the Eagles into a perennial power — 11 playoff appearances, five NFC title games and one trip to the Super Bowl. On Friday, Banner met with the Associated Press and addressed some of his thoughts on reviving the Browns, who are just 2-7 and headed toward their fifth straight double-digit loss season.
Banner remains “open-minded” about second-year coach Pat Shurmur, whose future with the Browns will likely be decided in the season’s final seven games. Banner spent 10 seasons working in Philadelphia with Shurmur, who served as an assistant coach on Andy Reid’s staff. Banner likes Shurmur personally, believes he has the qualities to be a successful coach, and agrees the undercurrent of ownership change announced at the start of training camp was “kind of a curveball.”
Banner said Shurmur will be judged on his win-loss record, but not exclusively.
“I come here with an extremely positive view of Pat, but on the key qualities as it related to evaluating him as a head coach, with very little opinion,” he said. “I know he’s smart. I know he knows football. I know he’s hard working and I know he’s a good man. Now there’s a whole other series of qualities that differentiate the coaches in the league that separate coaches who are successful from others who are really successful.”
Haden a game-time decision
Browns starting cornerback Joe Haden will be a game-time decision on Sunday against Dallas with an oblique injury.
Haden, arguably the team’s best defensive player, missed his second straight day of practice Friday. Afterward, Shurmur expressed hope Haden will be able to play against the Cowboys.
“We’ll just have to see,” Shurmur said. “We’ll get him ready to go and if he can play, he will. If not, then we’ll adjust.”
Shurmur said Haden felt better and the injury is “something that can happen with a very harmless movement.”