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Gregg Williams never had much traction as the Browns' long-term answer -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

Gregg Williams tried to tone down his bombast as interim head coach but the Browns front office long favored Freddie Kitchens over him.
Credit: Jonathan Bachman
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams reacts after the Reese's Senior Bowl at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama on January 28, 2017.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns head coach opening was one of the best in the NFL, if not the best. 

(Now, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but then again I’ve only been here for 28 years and 11 head coaches.)

So it stood to reason it was as much a topic of conversation beyond Berea as it was in a town where many fans thought owner Jimmy Haslam could easily justify keeping Gregg Williams as head coach and Freddie Kitchens as offensive coordinator.

Asked about the Browns opening a few months ago, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney said jokingly, “It’s cold in Cleveland, isn’t it?”


But I think we can all agree now that the search is over that it wouldn’t have seemed as cold to Dabo Swinney as it did to Williams on his way out of town.

Williams helped lift an inspired team out of 2-5-1 ashes. He received a head coaching interview for his good work but was not a finalist.

Meanwhile, Freddie Kitchens ascended from running backs coach to head coach in two short months. One press conference and an impromptu call to a sports radio show later, you’d think he’s a modern-day Will Rogers to hear people tell it.

That can’t be easy for Williams to accept. And maybe that’s why he graciously thanked the fans (#comegetsome) but not the organization upon his departure.

But when you hear John Dorsey talk about Kitchens' lack of ego, you realize Williams' candidacy probably ended before it even began.

Maybe with his talk about being offered all those head coaching jobs.

“Since I left Buffalo, I’ve had 11 letters sent in to interview for head coaching jobs, and all of them behind the scenes I have, four of them I didn’t even have to show up, just sign the contract and come," he said after being named the Browns interim coach.

Imagine if his Bills record had been more impressive than 17-31.

  • Williams, who will lead the Jets defense for new head coach Adam Gase, didn’t interview for a head coaching job outside of Berea. Neither, of course, did Kitchens.

Only one of them will tell the next media person who asks him a question to sit up straight.

  • A recent headline: “Coach hire: Freddie (Kitchens) fell from the Dabo tree.”

Kitchens played quarterback at Alabama. In his freshman year Swinney became a Tide grad assistant and then a regular position coach.

That might be a seedling but it's not a tree.

  • Oh, Kyrie.

So now he’s sorry?

The story is Irving, who has criticized Boston’s younger talent recently, called LeBron James to apologize for being the kind of hard-headed youngster he’s now railing about.

“It takes a real man to go back and call somebody and be like, ‘Hey man, I was young. I made some mistakes. I wasn’t seeing the big picture like you were. I didn’t have the end of season in mind. I just wanted to get my stats and make All-Star Games,'” Irving said. “In his career, it means like this much to him at that point.”

So Irving is maturing…at least as much as a guy can while feeling the need to point out he’s a real man.

  • We all have certain speech patterns, things we say without considering the meaning or the need. 

Jimmy Haslam used to say "candidly” a lot but he cured himself of the habit.

I have a friend who prefaces matter-of-fact statements such as “I’m tired” with “Quite honestly” as if what he is about to say might be easily discredited without it.

Or that failing to say it leads you to the thought that this time he's fudging the truth.

Dorsey is no different.

The JFK speech, as delivered by Dorsey:

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country, moving forward.”

  • It’s an absolute sham Clemson true freshman Trevor Lawrence must play two more years of college football when under different rules he could be drafted into the NFL.

And sit behind Tyrod Taylor.

  • If the Clemson win over Alabama was turned into a movie, Lawrence would be played by Adam Driver after the dye job.
  • Bruce Arians interview with the Buccaneers included a physical. He’s 66 years old after all.

And also a geography test since he said the only job he would come out of retirement to take was in Cleveland.

  • Antonio Brown cites an injury for why he will miss the Pro Bowl.
  • In explaining why he wouldn’t be interested in trading for Brown, Arians said the Steelers receiver wasn’t the same player Arians coached in 2010.

“Too much diva,” said Arians.

Not surprisingly, that slam got back to Brown who Tweeted that anyone in a "kangoo hat n glasses" shouldn't call anyone else a diva.

Because all the hippest people are in the their mid-60s and near-sighted.

  • Kevin Love is still said to be weeks away from returning from a foot injury.

That doesn’t seem to bad compared to the Cavs, who are five years away.

  • New Golden State Warriors center Boogie Cousins says Golden State is “the most hated team in sports.”

Tom Brady: “Hold my kale chips.”

  • Brady tried to claim “everybody thinks we suck” in the minutes after a rout of the Chargers. The Pats were 11-5 this year, beat the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears during the regular season, and still have Bill Belichick coaching them the last time we checked.

Saying everyone thinks they’re terrible would be like Belichick saying, “Everyone thinks I’m a slave to fashion." 

Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison would disagree on the Patriots No. 1 villain status. Or at least Tom Brady’s.

“I wanted to hate Tom Brady but he’s the ultimate teammate,” Harrison told FS1.

Not like Ben Roethlisberger, Harrison didn’t say.

But didn’t have to.

  • Derrick Rose doesn’t expect his performance to suffer this season after the dismissal of Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was also Rose’s coach during some of his best years in Chicago.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Rose told reporters. “Thibs was just the coach that believed in me. I mean, he jump-started my career again and for that, I’ll always be thankful. But everybody that thinks that it’s gonna stop, kill yourself. It’s just not.”

Rose apologized for saying “kill yourself.”

It’s not easy to make Twitter Trevor Bauer look kinder and gentler.

Just kidding, Trevor. Really.

  • Bauer promised to comment more responsibly on Twitter after being accused of harassing a college-aged woman who Tweeted that Bauer was her “new least favorite person in all of sports.”

Nikki Giles, a senior at Texas State University, said she felt targeted by some of Bauer’s followers. She accepted his explanation as an apology.

Left unsaid: she must never have heard of Floyd Mayweather.

  • Seattle’s buttoned-down offense cost them in a playoff loss to the Cowboys.

The best explanation for the Seahawks ultra conservative approach is they traveled to Dallas by time machine and thought their QB was Seneca Wallace, not Russell Wilson.

  • Bears head coach Matt Nagy wasn’t thrilled to see kicker Cody Parkey on a network morning show talking about the failed 43-yarder that cost Chicago in a playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“For me, you understand that we always talk about a 'we' and not a 'me' thing," Nagy said at a season-ending press conference.

 "We always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. You know, I just, I didn't necessarily think that that was too much of a 'we' thing.”

To paraphrase Todd Haley from “Hard Knocks,” what Nagy is saying is, "Nice job you  #$!^ kicker."

  • My picks (moving forward but stopping at Sunday.)

Saints 27, Rams 20

Patriots 40, Chiefs 37.