For as long as Jimmy Haslam has owned the Cleveland Browns, the organization has been mired in controversy and poor performance on the field. So far this offseason, general manager Ray Farmer has been accused of illegally texting his coaching staff during games, 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel has checked into rehab, and star receiver Josh Gordon violated his probation. Still, Haslam doesn't believe the issues are as severe as described in the media, and he says the team stands by both men.
Haslam said the team supports Manziel's decision to check into rehab, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Browns owner also said they still believe that the former Texas A&M star can be a quality starter in the NFL. "It's way too early to give up on Johnny," Haslam explained. "We certainly haven't given up on him. Everybody's been too harsh."
Strangely, Haslem also hinted that the team was unaware of the quarterback's reputation as a party boy before entering the NFL:
#Browns owner Haslam on drafting Manziel despite red flags: "I don't know how much of Johnny's personal life was known by everybody then."— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) February 11, 2015
Elsewhere with the Browns, the team is readying to deal with the fallout from general manager Ray Farmer's admission that he sent improper text messages during games. League rules prohibit such interaction with the coaching staff. Farmer's actions could potentially cost the team a fine and a loss of a draft pick, a punishment similar to that for the New England Patriots as the result of the "Spygate" scandal.
According to Haslam, Farmer "feels he made a mistake in sending those texts," which were partly responsible for the early departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. However, Haslam says the investigation and potential punishment will not affect the GM's standing with the team.
Haslam took a tougher stance on Gordon, who tested positive for alcohol use while on probation for a previous substance abuse. "We have the responsibility to get the most out of our players and take care of them," Haslam said. "He's failed to accept that responsibility. At a certain point in time, an individual's got to do what's right." Haslam added that the team plans to take the year before making a decision on Gordon's future.