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Parcells: Haslam reached out for guidance

A few folks were weighing in with different thoughts on the Cleveland Browns on Thursday.

Bill Parcells, the legendary former coach of the Giants, Jets and Cowboys, said he spent time with Jimmy Haslam during the coaching search, but not to discuss a job.

“He asked me if he could come and talk about organization, what I thought were the reasons they were successful or weren't successful,” Parcells said Wednesday evening on SiriusXM NFL radio. “And so I try to help anybody who asks, and that's what he was asking about. But there was no discussion about any jobs or anything.”

Which of course leaves open the tantalizing question as to what exactly the two discussed, and what Parcells had to say.

Say this for Haslam. At the news conference where he announced Ray Farmer would become the general manager, Haslam admitted there is a learning curve for being an NFL owner, and that “if you want to look at me as a work-in-progress, that’s fair to say.”

Refreshing candor.

If he wanted to learn something, he went to one of the best.

Mike Pettine spoke to some of the local media at a Special Olympics event at the team’s facility, and addressed the change from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi to Farmer.

He said it was not mentioned during his job interviews, that it was controversial and shocking, but that he was “full speed ahead” with Farmer. Pettine addresses a topic head-on. He might not always be able to answer, but he’s got a little Tito Francona in him in that he doesn’t seem to want to dodge a question. He still has to win, mind you.

Then Pettine said offensive and defensive coaches have visited with Farmer to explain just what kind of player they want for the new systems. This is an important part of building a team.

“‘These are the position attributes that we're looking for,'" Pettine said. “‘This is what a Sam linebacker looks like in our system, this is what a center should look like in our system, a wide tight end, a Z receiver' so we gave the attributes.”

Perhaps it’s looking too much into a guy just being honest, but what Pettine said about the center is interesting. It might have just been an off-the-top list of positions, but if the word ‘should’ means anything more than that, it might indicate how the Browns view retaining Alex Mack.

Finally, I was talking to an NFL assistant this week, and I asked if he knew Farmer at all.

“I really don’t know him that well,” he said. “But I respect him a great deal.”

This seems to be a very common feeling around the league. It’s tough to find anyone who would say they don’t respect Farmer. And yes, he still has to find players, and win.

Haslam took quite a meandering path to get here, but he might have brought the Browns to the point where fans might actually be able to ask themselves whether this will work without crossing all their fingers and toes.