Browns won't say who has final authority

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
12:50
PM ET
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam talked about completing "the team" with the hiring of Mike Lombardi as the vice president of player personnel. So, who will have final authority over football matters: Lombardi, chief executive officer Joe Banner or coach Rob Chudzinski?

"We're going to have a group that is now rounded out and that's going to collaborate on these decisions," Banner said Friday at Lombardi's introductory news conference. "We're going to try to drive toward a consensus. We probably won't do things about which we don't have a consensus. So we really won't ever get into who has final say."

It's been rumored for months that Lombardi would become the Browns' top personnel director and it's drawn a negative backlash from media and fans. Lombardi touched upon that when he said he saw the reactions of reporters when he walked into the media room.

"But I take them as a positive," Lombardi said. "I have never shied away from a challenge."

Banner, who has a long relationship with Lombardi, defended the Browns' decision to hire Lombardi.

"I've spoken with and spent a lot of time with some excellent talent evaluators in this league and there's no question, when it comes to that, he's near or at the top of the quality of talent evaluators that exist in this league," Banner said.

During his time as an analyst for the NFL Network, Lombardi has been critical of the Browns' draft picks, including wide receiver Josh Gordon and quarterback Brandon Weeden. Now, Lombardi is in charge of those players. When it was announced the Lombardi was joining the Browns, Gordon put out a tweet: "Uh oh.. Am I in trouble??"

Lombardi explained that it's "a different evaluation" of players when you're part of the media as opposed to and NFL executive.

"You need to get involved in terms of their personalities here," Lombardi said. "I don't know Josh Gordon or Brandon Weeden in terms of watching them play from the outside. So it's a different evaluation than what it is from a media perspective than inside the house. It's going to be different that way."

The Browns recently interviewed Chiefs director of pro personnel Ray Farmer for the personnel job. Minnesota's George Paton and Seattle's John Idzik were also reportedly in the mix as well.

Banner said the deciding factor was finding the person who had the vision to build a team.

"There are a lot of teams in the league that picks players and don't really have a clear understanding of the difference between doing that and assembling a team where people compliment each other and you create the right culture, attitude and work ethic," Banner said. "[It's about] picking players that fit your particular program as opposed to picking good players and making personnel people look good and not necessarily making the team any better."

Because Lombardi had been the long-rumored top candidate, it seems now that the other interviews were more of a charade. But Haslam said he only spoke to Lombardi about the job over the last week.

"I know we got the very best possible person to be a GM," Haslam said. "I think we've now completed the team at the top."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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