Jim Nantz and the fraternity you don’t belong to.
Jim Nantz had a 15 minute interview with Bull and Fox yesterday. Nantz’ reason for coming on local radio was obviously to present a recommendation on behalf of his friend Mike Lombardi in the face of a fair amount of disdain for Lombardi’s past record as a personnel guy in the NFL (and also notable commentary on Lombardi’s interpersonal compass).
It was astounding. You have never heard Nantz like this. He crossed over the line of objective and candid to haughty, catty, and
small no, let’s say ‘real.’ I don’t want to kill Nantz on this because I like warts, we all have them, and it’s somewhat affirming that Nantz may have some too.
We’re going to dig into a lot of his comments below. But my primary takeaway was: Wow. These guys ride in an insular world. I can’t fault Nantz for playing Pebble Beach with Fred Couples, but I do think his frame of reference would benefit from signing on as a single for 18 holes at Pine Brook. Love the passion Jim, but I can’t help but think you’d have said the same on behalf of Mike Holmgren after a round with him at Sahalee. As for the rest of us who just watch the team year after year, we have a healthy and well-founded skepticism of NFL lifers ‘who know football more than we do.’
Let’s dig in.
“…with all great respect, I think [Browns fans are the] best football fans in the country, [but] they don’t really know what they’re talking about with this hire. I think they have been believing what they’re reading and … they don’t always have the greatest sources of information.”
So some of this is good. I don’t doubt he’s pulling for Cleveland and he doesn’t strike me as a smoke-blower. We ARE great fans and if he says we’re best, well fine. But if we don’t have the greatest sources of info.. well wtf? Why don’t we? Your own damn company is paying a BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR* presumably to provide coverage of the NFL. Do you know how many damn Pitbull Bud Light commercials I’ve watched? Get us some decent sources of info Jim!
“I’ve been reading the vicious remarks and character assassination about Mike by some people in the media … who ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
Obviously, Nantz is looking at Grossi and this is likely the article he’s in a dither about.** I read it. I liked it. Grossi puts his nuts on the line with this article. Grossi is doing the journalist-y thing… providing readers with sources of information. Now Jim, here is the context you lack: we had national and local media fall in line and kiss Mike Holmgren’s ass when he starting collecting checks roughly three years ago. In my opinion, Grossi should be ashamed if he did NOT tell us what he knows (and what’s he’s heard). That is Grossi’s job.
Among the many Lombardi pieces that Nantz probably didn’t read was this piece by Frowns. It outlines just the sort of agenda manipulation by Lombardi that Nantz crows about in the interview. If Bill Belichick wants to stick it to Eric Mangini, how better than by planting seeds with media member Mike Lombardi? Frowns lays it out meticulously and to Nantz’ complaint about Lombardi-the-victim-of-character-assassination I say, “Hello Mr. Kettle you’re looking black today.”
“I’ve been around the NFL for 28 years. There’s only two people I’ve met who stand at a different level above the rest when you sit in a room and talk football. That would be Bill Belichick and Mike Lombardi.”
Well first, I’ve been around the NFL for 45 years so there’s that. But the point of Nantz’ statement here is to establish his bona-fides with the intent of diminishing your opinion since you’re not the expert, he is. Weak sauce Jim. (Although it seemed to work on Fox and to a lesser extent, Bull.)
“… If you really have been an important voice [to the Browns] .. well you haven’t done a very good job. So what is your knowledge? … Let’s look at your record if you want to say you have your fingerprints on it.”
Grossi and Frowns take note: you both have failed the Browns in your roles as Owner, GM, Coach, and player.
(I should point out here that Grossi’s pounding of the table for a ‘credible football person’ did shape the franchise in a disastrous way so point taken there, Jim.)
“It’s been absolutely masterful the way Jimmy Haslam has constructed this.”
“I married a Cleveland girl, I want to go to Cleveland with the #1 CBS announce team, I’m rooting for this franchise. I just want to come on here as someone who feels very close to Mike Lombardi because I think he’s been wronged. There’s one guy in the media there who hopefully can write objectively and … eat his words one day.”
I buy this sure, why not.
“When I found out the news guess who I was in the company of? Bill Belichick. Does anyone think he’s a dummy? Is there anyone who’s listening who thinks they know more football than Bill Belichick?
Bull: how come Belichick never hired him?
Nantz: that’s a fan question right there.”
I count five big-timings in the span of fifteen seconds right here.
Translation: This is Clayton, Sidney, Jugdish, Mohammed, and Lonnie… you’ll have lots to talk about, eh?
“It’s amazing how much back-stabbing there is in the league.”
I would so like to be in the room when Mangini hears this interview.
Here’s the most remarkable part of the interview. Nantz Monday-Morning-QB’s Heckert’s draft. (<–short clip is linked.) He actually says, ‘[if Heckert is so good] Why didn’t he pick Russell Wilson instead of Brandon Weeden? Why did he trade up for Trent Richardson when you could have had Doug Martin? Coulda had Alfred Morris in the sixth round?’
Are you shitting me? If any of us trotted weak shit like that out on a WFNY forum post every mod and a couple dozen posters would rain down hell on us. My God. First rule of football draft talk: you have to call your shot before the draft. (Thus Dan Whalen has ultimate cred because he pounded the table for Russell Wilson before and during the draft.) Jim, if you want to defend Lombardi fine. But if you’re going to cast stones on Heckert, get educated — here’s a tabbed spreadsheet of all of Heckert’s draft picks and signings. Go to town. But christ with the road you’re going down, we should also be pissed that we took Courtney Brown in 2000 instead of Tom Brady. And not for nothing, but Lombardi took Ed King three slots ahead of Brett Favre in 1991.
btw Jim: Heckert killed it in the sixth round with Billy Winn.
Lookit. I’m glad Nantz is pulling for us. I’m glad that he thinks so highly of Lombardi and with such passion that he showed his ass for (to my knowledge) the first time in his career. These are good things for the team.
But Jim, give us out here a little credit too. For example: we currently have the best six man rotation on d-line in the league. No hyperbole. Some d-bag coach is likely going to blow it up and put in his system. Guys like you will pontificate from New York and Bristol that we fans need to be patient. But none of you guys remember that we went through five years under RAC and Mangini of being patient while ‘the right personnel’ was assembled.
We’ve been living this slow-motion train-wreck for coming up on two decades. Check yourself before coming down our street on all this. As you correctly noted, we’re as good a fandom as there is. Being quietly patient hasn’t been working for us, so cut us some slack if we’re not.
* That’s just CBS’ piece. The NFL is getting 5.7 BILLION A YEAR in television contracts only through 2021. Here’s the link again. Math: 5.7$ /32 teams * 8 years = $1.4 billion guaranteed in next eight years. Lerner must have utterly and absolutely hated us or Cleveland to sell out. I mean, Lerner sold for $1.05 billion… and is keeping 30% for four years while Haslam scares up the $300 million he still owes.
** I forgot Marla Ridenour wrote a blunt piece on Lombardi too. “Hiring Mike Lombardi would be the biggest mistake in the history of the Browns.” It’s simply unprecedented to have TWO established writers put their Browns-related working relationships on the line with this level of candor.