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Don't assume T.O. is truly back; sitting down with Haslam; mail


ALBANY, N.Y. -- Before heading over to see the world champions this morning, touching base on two subjects in the news:

Terrell Owens is a Seahawk, for now. Not to rain on the T.O. parade, and I have no idea if he's going to make the team, but slow things down a bit. Since Jay Glazer reported Monday night that T.O. had signed with Seattle, I've been reading which dates he's going to oppose former teams and how high he might put his already Hall of Fame-contending numbers. Seattle signed him to compete for a roster spot in training camp after being out of the game for 19 months. He's 38. The contract's not guaranteed. He's gone to the right place because only Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Sidney Rice are near-locks for roster spots -- and Rice might not be ready to start the season after two offseason shoulder surgeries. But he's hardly a roster lock.

Jimmy Haslam has the right idea on running the Browns. I spoke to Haslam for 30 minutes Sunday and was impressed. Three things I liked:

1. He knows what he doesn't know. I counted four times in our conversation that he said some version of, "I just don't know the answer to that yet,'' or, "I might know better in two months. I just don't know now." He's a CEO of a truck stop company with more than 500 locations in the United States and Canada, but he's smart enough to know he's about to enter a business in which smart men get their heads handed to them in competition every year, and no one's a genius.

2. He was schooled in, and took valuable lessons from, one of the best football laboratories in the league -- Pittsburgh's. As a 12 percent owner of the Steelers for the last three seasons, he's seen the benefit of the Steeler way. "One thing I took from the Steelers,'' he said, "is if you've got a great leader, GM and coach -- which they do -- you've filled the three most important boxes, and you're off to a great start.'' Add the quarterback, and he's right. The solid, consistent competence of the Rooney family, general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin give the Steelers a chance every year.

3. He's going to be much more involved day-to-day with the Browns than Randy Lerner was, from the sound of things. He'll buy a home in Cleveland and be around the team at least one day a week during the season, while continuing to run his business in Tennessee. Even though his presence guarantees nothing, Haslam wants to sit in the stands at a game or two, and he wants to go into the community to thank the fans for being so loyal.

"It's very important to thank your customers for their loyalty,'' he said. "In my business, I go to the stores unannounced fairly often to talk to my employees. It's important to assess your business often, and to ask the people out in the field for ideas. I ask, 'What are we doing wrong?' Ninety-five percent of our new ideas come from our employees."

Football's a different business; the fans in the Dawg Pound can't tell him who to draft. But his idea about contact with the people who have supported the team for so long is laudable.

One thing Haslam has judged -- critically -- very early is the Browns' coaching merry-go-round. "They've averaged a new coach once every 2.8 years [since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999],'' Haslam told me, "and that's just not a good recipe.'' Do the math: Excluding interim coach Terry Robiskie in relief of Butch Davis in 2004, Cleveland's had five head coach in the 14 seasons between 1999 and 2012 -- 2.8 seasons per coach. "One thing I learned from watching the Steelers is the importance of consistency in coaching, and how much it sets you back when you're always making a change. When you change coaches, it can be a three- or four-year deal to get back.''

Haslam won't talk about his plans with any employee until his ownership bid is approved -- which from all indications is imminent. But he'll find out soon enough that finding a quarterback is the biggest predictor of future success. And everyone in the organization's going to be a lot smarter if Brandon Weeden can play.

Now onto your email:

THE TEBOWIZATION OF THE NFL. "Love MMQB, but I am confused by one thing. In it this week you discuss a number of different teams and a number of different players. But I have been watching ESPN lately, and according to them, the only NFL team is the Jets. So, who are all these other teams you write of?''-- From Andrew Gordon, Washington, D.C.

So you're saying ESPN has covered the Jets a lot? Boy, hadn't heard that.

ON THE HONOR OF ROBERT GALLERY. "In regards to Robert Gallery not taking the $1.4 million from the Patriots: I don't understand why Robert Gallery should be commended. NFL retired players, up until either 2010 or 2011, were denied on an overwhelming majority of health insurance claims. Why should a man who has taken hundreds of hits to the head every day in practice and on game days give up any amount of money for future care he WILL need, for the good of a franchise that is probably worth for than $2 Billion (yes with a B) and makes money hand over fist. If he doesn't have to use that money on his health, it can help provide for his family's future, or it can go to charity, or head trauma research.

Just don't commend the man for saving money for a team in a sport that, until last year, could give two flying flips about the health and progress of their former employees. Please Peter, take more of a look at things from a player's point of view. Robert Gallery made a choice, and that is great. I wonder if he makes the exact same choice two years ago, before the changes to how NFL retirees were treated.''-- From Mike, San Diego

So Robert Gallery plays his entire eight-year career with Oakland and Seattle, signs a deal with New England, decides a week into training camp he doesn't want to play anymore, and you think the Patriots should pay him the $1.4 million they'd agreed to pay him for playing the full season? I understand your point about many players being chewed up and spit out by the system over the years in the NFL, but that logic is preposterous.

FUNNY -- THE WRITER OF THIS EMAIL IS FROM COLORADO. "Terrell Davis ... I think you have overlooked your own words here: 2,008-yard rushing season, Super Bowl MVP, league MVP and amazing seven 100-yard rushing games in eight postseason starts (you also left out the fact that he won two Super Bowls in a row). Name another running back in the Hall of Fame that has all that. None, zero, nada.

O.J. Simpson had 2003 yards, zero Super Bowl wins, but is in the Hall of Fame. Eric Dickerson had 2003 yards, zero Super Bowl wins, but is in the Hall of Fame. Barry Sanders had 2053 yards, zero Super Bowl wins, but is in the Hall of Fame. Jamal Lewis had 2066 yards and one Super Bowl win, but was not the MVP of the Super Bowl. Chris Johnson had 2006 years, zero Super Bowl wins."-- From Joe Braun, Littleton, Colo.

Lewis and Johnson have no business in your argument, as they're not in the Hall of Fame. Forget them, and let's address the problem with your argument, which is the problem so many Hall of Fame arguments have: They're incomplete, and they conveniently leave out salient facts the way partisan politicians do every day.

I don't make my decision because he didn't do enough when he played. My argument, obviously, is that he didn't do it long enough, and he wasn't the sort of transcendent running back a Gale Sayers was. I think once we start opening the door to the Hall of Fame to men who had three terrific years and one good one, that's troublesome. But as I said yesterday, I'd support his somewhat parallel case, Sayers (and let's make one thing clear -- I wasn't on the committee when Sayers was voted in), because I think Sayers is one of the most electrifying players in NFL history. I greatly admire Davis, but I don't see him in the same light.

ON GARRETT REID. "It's obviously very sad what happened to Andy Reid's son. I certainly don't know Andy and all that I hear is positive -- so I understand that my view may lack important context. But as a relatively new father, it's clear to me that the greatest gift that I can give my child is my time. It's also clear that football coaches don't have a lot of that to give to their children. I just don't understand how a father can watch his family falling apart (two sons in jail, now one dead) and not re-examine the cost of the work that has been chosen. It's great that Andy has been a mentor to Mike Vick and the other current and former players, but what about his own children?''-- From Craig, Rochester, N.Y.

Many have asked the same question, and it's a valid one. And who knows -- maybe Reid will walk away tomorrow and have a different job, and priorities, for the rest of his life. But I look at it this way: I didn't live in the Reid house. I don't know what happened there. Do we know that Reid's children, if he'd chosen the life he actually wanted to pursue (he went to college wanting to be a sports writer, of all things), would have turned out differently?

When you get into the coaching life, you get into a competitive life with long hours. If you stay in the life, you have to play by the rules of that life. And let's say Reid dropped out of coaching when it became apparent his sons were struggling with drugs. You and I may have done that; who knows? Would that have changed what happened to Garrett Reid? Who knows that either? Craig, I hear what you're saying, and believe me, I've had many of the same questions. But the truth is, we're not there, and we don't know what the impact of our dropping-out would have had on the situation.

IN SUPPORT OF A QUIET STAR, DEANGELO WILLIAMS. "Assuming he does not lose 12 yards a carry on his first four carries this year, DeAngelo Williams will join Jim Brown as the ONLY two running backs in NFL history to average 5.0 yards a carry after 1,000 carries. While he may not be considered a Hall of Fame back, it is obvious that DWill is probably a better runner than 90 percent of the Hall of Fame members. It is true he has shared carries. But that does not take away from his greatness. Suppose every other running back in the league shared carries. Do you think they would be at 5.0 per carry? Doubt it.''-- From Robert, Dallas

Nice email. But there are 29 modern-era Hall of Fame running backs. If Williams is better than 90 percent of them, then John Fox and Ron Rivera need to be drawn and quartered immediately for their irresponsible coaching. Williams is not one of the top five runners of the last three generations. But the rest of your point is a good one -- Williams is an under-appreciated player.

I DO NOT SEE THIS HAPPENING. "Wouldn't it be ironic if Donovan McNabb winds up replacing Kevin Kolb in Arizona?"-- From Peter, New York

Ironic, yes. Realistic, no.