At this point, if the Browns ever do find and hire a head coach, the poor guy should be pitied, not congratulated.
The league has spoken, and this is what it said: The Cleveland job has all the appeal of being the night watchman at a junkyard. An air-show wing walker. A poisonous snake wrangler.
Despite all the self-serving pablum ladled out by the Browns management team at the beginning of the search for Mr. Right that this was a plum job with a lot to recommend it, many candidates, rather than aggressively seeking it, are almost literally running away from it.
It's like a farmer shining his flashlight out behind the house and all the gophers are diving into their holes.
Tuesday, it was Adam Gase, offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl-bound Denver Broncos, who told the oblivion-bound Browns, and I'm paraphrasing here: “How did you get my number? Stop calling me!”
Gase apparently thinks that another year of riding shotgun with Peyton Manning on Denver's sleek, state-of-the-art, Super Bowl-caliber offense will somehow result in having far better head coaching options than the Browns.
What's he thinking?
Gase joins a growing list of coaching candidates who have taken one look at the chaos in Cleveland and quickly run in the other direction.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was the early clubhouse leader to get the job, quickly told the Browns, “No, thanks. I've got to mow my lawn.”
Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, was interviewed by the Browns, and was so impressed by what he heard that he told the team, and, again, I'm paraphrasing: “No. Never. Not going to happen. We never met.”
Ben McAdoo, the quarterbacks coach for the Packers, was interviewed by the Browns, but then accepted the job as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants and said, while nervously wiping his brow (again, my paraphrase): “Whew! That was a close one!”
Ken Whisenhunt interviewed with the Browns, then quickly accepted the head coaching job of the Tennessee Titans.
It tells me this, and I am not paraphrasing: Nobody wants to work for the Browns. Oh, they will eventually find someone. Somebody will finally agree to take their money and put up with all the nonsense that has surrounded and continues to engulf the franchise.
The new coach will accept Jimmy Haslam's money and try to ignore that he will be the third head coach on the payroll in 2014. The other two, Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski, will be paid to not coach the Browns.
It's the only category the Browns will lead the league in next year: Most head coaches on payroll.
At the beginning of the so-far fruitless search for Mr. Right, the obvious question was, and still is: Who would want to coach this team? The answer so far: nobody.
Six other teams fired and hired new coaches.
By now, all of the good ones are taken, you could argue, but the Browns are still looking for theirs. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, or even a Browns scout, to figure out why this is so.
You reap what you sow, and given what the Browns have sown in the relatively short Haslam era, the Browns must now reap it and weep.
The Davone Bess fiasco, the empty 2013 draft, firing Chudzinski because he failed to improve a team the front office torpedoed from under him, the curious front-office structure in which the general manager is forbidden to speak, an owner who potentially faces a federal indictment, and all that could potentially mean to the football team and its employees ... the list goes on and on — and so do the “no thank you's” issued by the coaches the Browns show interest in.
The Browns have now been rejected by more coaches than they had wins last season. I'm no head hunter, but I don't think that's a good sign.
The Browns' management team can spin it however they like, but it's obvious now that the job they are trying to fill is apparently looked upon within the industry as professionally toxic, more as a career crusher than a resume builder.
For that reason, the Browns' last best chance to land a quality coach for 2014 may depend not so much on astute executive planning and vetting, but rather on nothing more than sheer, unadulterated luck — which in turn raises one final crucial, obvious and ominous question:
When have the Browns ever gotten lucky?