The Cleveland Browns have already received their fair share of media coverage in the past few months, mainly surrounding Johnny Manziel. However, it was new head coach Mike Pettine, not Manziel, who just added more fuel to the fire. Pettine will regret stirring up the remnants of Spygate because of the unwanted media attention his comments will draw to his already heavily scrutinized team.
For those of you who don’t know the full story, here’s a quick summary. Pettine essentially claimed that the New England Patriots have possessed copies of the New York Jets’ playbook during the Spygate era and possibly beyond. The allegation stemmed from a conversation between Tom Brady and Jets’ outside linebackers coach Mike Smith in which Brady hinted that this was true.
First of all, the basis for Pettine’s claim is a classic “he said, she said” scenario. Pettine said that Smith said that Brady said that the Patriots may or may not have had the playbook. It’s pretty likely that something got lost in translation here, or even more likely that the story is just flat-out false. As for how the Patriots supposedly got hold of the playbook, Pettine suggested that Nick Saban passed it along to Bill Belichick.
Whether or not this story is true, there was no reason to bring it out into the open. If Pettine didn’t know how easily a little tidbit like this can be blown up by the media, he does now. What Pettine has to realize is that everything he tells a reporter must be in the context of the Browns, and only the Browns. Distractions like these can be harmful to a team as young and unproven as the Browns.
Furthermore, Pettine is hurting his own reputation, and he hasn’t even graced the sidelines of an NFL game as a head coach yet. Pettine’s former boss, Rex Ryan, has voiced his disgust of the entire episode and has indicated a loss of respect towards the Browns’ coach. The NFL head coaching community doesn’t have much patience for a member that babbles to the media about playbooks.
The Browns are fighting tooth and nail to climb back into NFL relevancy, but they won’t get far with a coach that doesn’t know how to carry himself professionally. Pettine needs to realize his mistake, take appropriate measures to smooth over the situation, and move on with real business concerning the Browns.