CLEVELAND (AP) – When fans tune in to watch this week’s NFL draft, they’ll see picturesque shots of Lake Erie, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a city climbing back after a rugged year.
Stifled by the pandemic, Cleveland‘s getting on its feet.
The Browns are already standing.
Last season’s playoff appearance – the first since the 2002 season – has ratcheted up expectations for the Browns, who have been recurring losers over the past two decades and, therefore, one of the first teams on the clock in almost every draft. Not this year, as a 12-6 record, which included the franchise’s first postseason win since 1994, has slotted Cleveland in the No. 26 spot in the first round, among the game’s elite.
This is new, exciting territory for owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who, after so many bad hires, wasted draft picks, and losing seasons since taking over the team in 2012, feel they’ve got the right coach in Kevin Stefanski, a quarterback in Baker Bayfield and general manager in Andrew Berry.
It took to trial, error, and patience on a sometimes painful journey. But the Haslams believe the Browns are finally positioned for sustained success.
There’s a cost to the newfound success, however, as Browns fans, who have endured more than their share of suffering over the ears, are excitedly pointing toward a Super Bowl visit in the not-too-distant future. Jimmy Haslam is taking a much more cautious approach when discussing the upcoming season and beyond.“Everybody wants to get to the Super Bowl; that’s the ultimate goal and win the Super Bowl, but I think we probably more than anybody understands how competitive and hard the NFL is.
He said on a Zoom call. On Tuesday, in advance of Brown hosting this week’s draft, the Haslams met with the media for the first time since August to discuss an array of topics, including the team’s progress, the Berry-Stefanski pairing, and Mayfield’s potential contract extension.