"First and foremost, I'd like to thank (Browns owner) Jimmy Haslam and the Haslam family. It's a tremendous opportunity for me to be sitting here today. It's a natural progression for me in this situation that I find myself in today here as the new general manager for the Cleveland Browns. There are several people that I'd like to thank, but I think I'll skip that point right now, specifically because there are a lot of names that I would have to get to, but I really want to focus on two people in that regard, the first being Joe Banner, who was integral in bringing me here and very instrumental and led the search to bring me to Cleveland, and I'd like to thank him for that; the other is Mike Lombardi, who I worked with for the past year. He's someone that I didn't know prior to coming to Cleveland, but I've developed a tremendous relationship with Mike over that time. He's a dear friend at this point in time.
"With that being said, I'm a big believer in relationships and how people come together and why those things are important, and it's communication. Three tenets that I am going to hold near and dear to as I'm here with the Cleveland Browns are – you'll figure this out about me in time, I'm a big acronym guy – the first one is KTB, ‘Know, trust and believe.' One of the bases behind relationships for me is that in order for people to believe you, they've got to know you; then as they know you, they'll trust you; and as they trust you, they'll believe in you. I think that connecting to people is critical in that way.
"The other [acronym], and the guys around the league that really know me will know what this one is about, is GUTF, ‘Get up the field.' It's a football term. All of my guys, we send text messages back and forth, and it's kind of how we end things. It speaks to really getting after it, finishing strong and all the things that I think are tantamount in football. That competitiveness, that passion, all of those things come out in ‘Get up the field.' If the running back has the ball, you want him to get up the field; a defensive lineman, you want him to get up the field. Those things are going to be part of how I drive myself, and it's really predicated on your work ethic and desire to finish strong.
"Finally, it's winning. Jimmy Haslam has said it; Mike Pettine has said it; and I believe the fans of Cleveland have said it, that it's all about winning. We need to find a way to win football games. We need to find a way to develop a championship-level football team. That's really the charge."
On the Browns' current public perception:
"I know, trust and believe in Jimmy Haslam and what he's established here in Cleveland. I believe that he is the right man for the job behind owning this team, and I think that we're going to make Cleveland proud behind what we do moving forward. What's transpired here, he's made a decision that we need to move forward, and I think that's what I'm looking forward to is doing just that."
On whether he knew this promotion was a possibility when withdrawing from interviews with the Miami Dolphins:
"Absolutely not. That situation was that situation. I spoke to the people in Miami about it pretty clearly. I made my decision, and I rested on that. There were no promises; there wasn't anything that was said. These two situations are definitely independent."
On why he withdrew his name from the Dolphins' general manager search:
"That job was not right for Ray Farmer. It's just that simple. It wasn't right for me."
On plans to hire additional personnel with the approaching combine and draft:
"My help is that I will use all of the resources that I have available to me, including talking to bright, smart and creative people that I think can help me. That will rely on some people who are currently not in the building. There may be a consultant and there may be other people who I get in contact with, but there is definitely a plan for me to move forward."
On involvement in the head-coach search:
"I did not travel. I was a part of the coaching process but from a different venue."
On working with a head coach he didn't hire:
"I didn't have the hiring authority, but I definitely was well aware and communicated well with the search party that was out speaking [with candidates]. I did my research on Mike Pettine. I have a really good relationship with Mike Pettine. I had a moment this morning to spend some one-on-one time [with Coach Pettine], after the decision was made, to really kind of start to solidify that relationship. I'm excited about the opportunity; I think he is, as well; and I think we're going to work well together."
On stability in his position, considering recent staff changes:
"Moving forward, I think that it's all about the person who is making that decision. I think Jimmy made the decisions that he thought he needed to make. I think he should be applauded for the fact that when there is a tough decision to be made, he looked it in the eye, he stepped up and he made the decision. I think that's what you want from somebody that's in control and that is leading. You want somebody who is not afraid to make the tough decision, regardless of what the public outlash may be."
On league perceptions about personnel changes during a short timeframe:
"The people that walk in my circle, I would say, are always probably keener on making sure that the decision was made for the right reasons. Whatever decisions are made, again, we all understand the National Football League has another acronym, ‘Not for long,' in a sense that we all signed up understanding what we're getting ourselves into. The charge is always winning; that's really the charge. When you don't win, I think we are all in the same situation of wondering what the future may hold for us."
On his contract's length:
On being ready to run his first draft:
"I believe I am ready. Running the draft is as simple as the process. You have to have a process that you create that answers all of the questions in advance. The draft, the hay is in the barn by the time you actually get to picking players. It is the process that you go through to get to that point. I think I am definitely solidified in that process. I've been involved in that process numerous times. We'll be prepared when it's time to select the players, and players that fit what Coach Pettine wants to do."
On his preparation for the combine changing due to the promotion:
"No, I think the process for the things that we were putting in place, specific to myself, I think I had a large hand in the structure and the process behind what we were doing at the combine and why I was at the Senior Bowl. We'll continue to move in a direction that I think is right for this football team moving forward. The process is what it is. I had helped establish that process so I'm completely comfortable with where we're at, how we're preparing for the combine and moving forward."
On confidence selecting the correct player if the Browns decide to select a quarterback with their first pick:
"I think that regardless of what the player is, who the player is or what position he plays, I'll make the right decision. It's more of a collaborative thing. Inevitably, Jimmy said that I'll have final say on the 53[-man roster] so picking the name off the board is one thing, but that will be a decision that we make in-house. I'm definitely going to be aware of how the coaches feel, I'm going to be aware of how the scouts feel and I'm going to be aware of how I feel. I'll mesh those opinions, as well as the other ones that we have, to make the right decision on who the quarterback should be going forward, assuming that's the position that we actually take at that point."
On drawing additional outside advice when evaluating quarterbacks:
"There are people that I have in mind to speak to, specific to different parts of what we're going to do, be it free agency or be it the draft. I don't think I'd like to say those names right now – there will be a time for that – but I do believe that regardless of who the player that's selected and at what position or however that person is, we'll make the right decision for this football team and how they're going to fit and what they're going to be asked to do as players."
On it being an element of pride to be an African-American hired as GM:
"It definitely is an element of pride. I definitely am very proud and happy for this day. As I get older, my mom and dad are dear to me, and I wanted them to see this moment in my life. I'm extremely excited for them to witness their son achieve this milestone that I had set for myself. It's definitely important, and I am very grateful and thankful for the opportunity that Jimmy has given me."
On speaking to the media regarding football decisions:
"It is my belief that Coach Pettine will probably speak more. I'm definitely open to, when I have my opportunities and there will be things that I need to comment on, I will comment as need be. I will make myself available when called upon. I'll leave those things up to the people who really should decide for me, which is (Browns communications director) Zak (Gilbert), as to how much time I actually spend. I do think that it's exciting and it's a good time to really give you a chance to know me, and there will be those opportunities."
On managing the roster with Mike Pettine:
"Between me and Mike, we will work in collaboration. I think both of us have our ideas of what needs to happen. He has already kind of set forward the players and how they kind of stack up for his scheme, the importance of one position versus another. As we work through those, I'll get a better idea of what he needs to be successful. Again, it was explained to me that a general manager's role is to ensure the success of his head coach so I will work in tandem with Coach Pettine to make sure we find the right players for him to succeed."
On final roster decisions, and how Mike Pettine will be involved:
"I will have final say on the 53[-man roster]. He'll decide who plays on gameday (the inactives)."
On potentially using the franchise tag on OL Alex Mack or DB T.J. Ward and their futures with the Browns:
"We've taken the opportunity to really look at all of the models and opportunities that we have to retain players. I don't think right now is the right time for me to talk about what negotiations may be going on or where we're at with anyone in specific, but I will tell you we'll do everything in our power to make sure we have the right players for this football team moving forward."
On when the Browns must determine LB D'Qwell Jackson's future with the club:
"Those decisions are going to be made in time. I don't know that there is a definite date that you have to have a final decision made, but we have an idea of what we want to do. We'll move forward in that regard."
On Jackson's bonus date:
"Things will be made in advance of when his $4 million bonus is due."
On the Browns draft room more closely reflecting Kansas City's or Cleveland's in past years:
"The war room will resemble what I have come to determine is the best way to do it. I think it wasn't exactly how it was in Kansas City, and it won't be exactly how it was in Cleveland. There will be a different tenor to how we kind of stack the war room and what that looks like. That being said, the communication will be often, and it will be daily, but we'll figure out what's the right amount of communication. We'll work through that and we'll make sure that we definitely speak and have things isolated at that time."
On when he learned of his promotion:
"I had been in communication with Jimmy the last couple of days, but I found out effectively last night."
On communication with Coach Pettine the past few weeks:
"I have worked with him. We've had meetings. I've been in every meeting where the coaches have talked about the players, who they like and what they think. I've been right there in lockstep with Coach Pettine from the beginning. I have had some isolated interactions with him, as well. Like I said, I think we're going to work well together. I think we both have the same thing in mind, which is making the Cleveland Browns a winner."
On if he expected to be named an NFL GM this early in his career:
"We all put down goals. My goals were to reach this milestone. Initially, it was five years to be a director, seven to get to VP and we'd see what happened from there. In some respects, I think I hit my markers on the head. I expected to get to this point at some point in my career; I just didn't know it would happen today."
On his previous comments about the Browns being ready to ‘redefine the history books':
"I think from where we sit today, Cleveland has a rich and proud tradition. Cleveland was very successful when it first took flight as a football organization. Subsequently, that history has not been as prominent in recent terms. Moving forward, the idea in my mind is to get back to who Cleveland was originally slated to be, which is a championship-level football team. I think we need to rewrite some of the chapters, get away from some of the down times and some of the negativity that has been persistent in Cleveland, and to move forward into an era where we can win championships, and people are actually proud of the Cleveland Browns and what this organization stands for."
On running a draft with the bulk of his experience being in pro scouting:
"I would say that's kind of a misnomer. People generally associate the title with the actual role. There are a lot of people around this league who do much more than just control the pro personnel side. I would say I was definitely involved in pro, but I've done college. I've done a lot of college work throughout my career. It started back in Atlanta, back when I was just a regular scout, if you will. I have been well-versed in the process of college meetings so I am well-versed and ready for this opportunity."
On Joe Banner as a good judge of football talent:
"I could tell you that Joe is a football guy. He would classify himself as a non-traditional football guy, and I would say that is a good representation."
On acronyms for loyal Browns fans:
"That's interesting. I haven't thought about it. I'll give you one. I'll find one, and I'll be sure to report back."
On WR Davone Bess:
"We are in communication. I can't comment too much about where the circumstance is. Just understand that we are concerned for Davone, and I think that's the biggest thing, is to make sure that he gets the help that he needs."
On waiting until March 11 to determine Bess' status:
"The biggest thing is that Davone's care and his concern is our biggest thing right now. The dates are inconsequential. Moving forward, we'll make the decision that we need to make for our franchise, as well as making sure that he's going to get the care and the things that he needs in the process."
On the Browns' current draft board and if it will change:
"Yes, we do have a draft board now. I would actually tell you that we have multiple draft boards now. I think that it will change, and it will change as we get involved with the coaches more. They'll get a chance to see some of the players that we're currently high on, and then we'll augment that board to meet the needs of this football team and this franchise moving forward."
On first objective to meet team needs during the combine and free agency:
"The first thing I have to do is get back upstairs and get back with the coaches on specifically who they're looking at. We've already given some ideas of a priority list and that nature. The scouts are ready to roll. We are going to meet down in Indianapolis, as well, to kind of solidify some things in that regard. The process is the process. We are well underway of moving in that direction, of finalizing what we think about each of these players and how they can help us moving forward."
On comments that this is the crucial offseason and needing to improve on last year's transactions:
"I look at the opportunity in front of me. I think that we've got to find players that fit the scheme that we're going to implement. We've got to find guys who can do the things that Coach Pettine is going to want to do on defense and that (Browns defensive coordinator) Jim O'Neil is going to want to do on defense and that (Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan is going to want to do on offense. We are going to find the guys who fit who we need to be moving forward, and we are going to establish guys who can fit into those roles. The critical component in finding and building a football team is meshing the two. It's one thing for a coach to have a philosophy; it's another thing for him to have the players to implement that philosophy. That's where me and Coach Pettine will make headway that we'll make sure that we get that right."
On preparing for more philosophical changes following those made in 2013, particularly on defense:
"I think we've already kind of taken those steps. The coaches have come in and hit the ground running. They've established who they liked, who they thought could fit the things that they were going to need to do. We've reduced some of that change, if you will. We've started to kind of bridge the gap as to where we have holes and where we don't so we can start to identify players that fit the needs moving forward."
On how good the Browns' roster is:
"Good is a relative term so I would say we are good."
On where the Browns need to improve the most:
"I think we need the most improvement in wins. We have to find a way to win football games. Jimmy said it. I said it. I believe it. At the end of the day, we've got to find a way to win football games. That's what fans want, that's what we want and that's what this city wants and is craving, is a winner. We have to find a way to find the players that can win football games."
On his reaction to the promotion:
"Interestingly enough, I was excited. I was genuinely excited. I don't know if there is ever a time when you feel again like it's Christmas, like a kid, when you wake up and things are just that brand new and exciting. There was a moment of reflection, as well, as to the people who helped you get where you're at, to the people who are no longer here. There was a bittersweet moment, but there is also that jubilation of this is my opportunity and I'm going to make the most of it. [The was] a limited amount of celebrating with my wife and me. I actually still haven't told my kids so they'll either be stoked at school or they'll come home and say, ‘Dad, why didn't you tell us?' That will work out fine, but it was definitely a moment of excitement for me."
On additional pressure considering previous staff changes:
"It doesn't bother me one iota. It's about getting the job done and getting it done right. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do, which is try to find the players to make us a championship-level club. It doesn't motivate me, fear or being scared or being motivated by change could come. It's the National Football League; some people say it's ‘Not for long.' Some people say it's the ‘No fun league.' People have all kinds of little anecdotal pieces that they'll put on that, but my job doesn't change. I think the stress that I put on myself is really what I'm focused on, making sure that I work hard every day to get the most out of each moment. If I do those things, I believe the results will bear themselves out."
On confidence in being allowed the time to make an impact, particularly given the upcoming draft:
"I do. My involvement with Jimmy Haslam, he is a reasonable man. I like the idea of where we're at and what we're going to do. I'm not going to be mistaken. I do believe that this draft is important, but I believe that every opportunity to find players is important, regardless of where you find them. There are guys who come off the streets; there are guys who come through free agency; there are guys who come as undrafted free agents; and there are guys who are going to be draft picks. We have to use every opportunity to improve this football team so I'm going to do that. I'm going to make sure that, every moment, we are taking that time to find the best that's out there for us. Again, the best for us is not necessarily the best for someone else; it's the best for us. Working with Coach Pettine and making sure we identify those players that can help our schemes, we're going to make good decisions. I'm confident that in time it will prove out that this is a good decision."
On expectations for the Browns' record in 2014:
"I think the expectation is what others say. Internally, we want to improve this football team, and I think the improvements come in the culture, how we attack it and how guys get better, and then inevitably how they win football games. I think the over-and-under for where we want to be in trying to get it right is simply to do better than we have done in the past."
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