Jason La Canfora: ‘You Have To Start With The Owner’

All right, let’s review: We’ve got Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer allegedly sending texts to coaches during games, which is prohibited. We’ve got Johnny Manziel in rehab. We’ve got Josh Gordon suspended again. We’ve got Justin Gilbert unable to show up on time for games. And we’ve got a revolving door among the coaching staff – which, next season, will be one of the most inexperienced in football.

We know it’s the Browns, but come on. This is ridiculous.

Who do we blame for all this?

“I think you have to start with the owner,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, referencing Jimmy Haslam. “That’s where the tone is set. That is the ultimate position of leadership, and they have been a mess since Jimmy Haslam took over. Now, they were a mess under (Randy) Lerner. They’ve been a mess really since they came back in the league as an expansion team.”

“But I think a lot of people around the league and a lot of people in the league office who really fast-tracked and got Haslam to the Browns and made it happen pretty quickly, frankly, expected more than this,” La Canfora continued. “I don’t think they expected a federal fraud investigation of Pilot Flying J within six months of him taking over an NFL team. I don’t think they expected to have this Textgate thing going on.“

“When I talk to people in league circles, this is viewed within the league – and the Arthur Blank situation in Atlanta, pumping in crowd noise – as much more sort of blurring the lines than DeflateGate. Now, people hate the Patriots because of Spygate, so it gets (added) on. But as an individual act, I’ve heard much more negativity and true angst over whatever was going on here in Cleveland and in Atlanta than in New England.”

Really? Why? Why is texting such a big deal? Everyone texts.

“I guess how many sets of eyes is okay?” La Canfora said. “When does it become illegal communication?”

“But it’s the Browns,” Doug Gottlieb said, half-joking, half-serious. “They weren’t any good last year.”

“It doesn’t matter,” La Canfora said, chuckling. “They have to enforce it either way. You can’t just enforce some rules because the Patriots are good and they may or may not have done certain things. You have a coaching staff. They’re supposed to be making coaching decisions. It can’t be your team president, your owner, your GM, the ball boy and everybody else – up in the sky or otherwise.”

“We’re in a day and age where, as you know, we’re in a constant series of mediums, and all different forms of technology and things continue to grow,” La Canfora continued. “That’s why the league mandates the number of tablets you can have on the sideline. There’s certain things . . . you’re allowed to do and not do. Your coaching staff’s only allowed to be a certain size. You’re not supposed to be getting messages and phone calls and relaying information.”

“Whether it’s to the detriment of your team or not, it doesn’t really matter. The league takes this very seriously. It’s something the competition committee sets limits on. And I can tell you the sense I’m getting in the league office is this is not being looked at as, ‘Oh well, they stunk anyway, so who cares?’ It’s like, ‘If this was going on – and it was going on repeatedly – there’s going to be some possible suspensions, possible fines, possible loss of draft picks.’”

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