INDIANAPOLIS --- New Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine was asked his reaction when he heard Friday's pro Football Talk report about the Browns trying to trade draft picks for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, before they hired Pettine.
"I think I maybe used the word 'flying' followed by something," Pettine said. "Or (made) a reference to a part of a rat."
Hmm. So Pettine seemed to be trying to tell us that as long as he was the guy standing at the podium in the brown warmup jacket with the orange helmet on the breast, he didn't much care how he got there. It was pretty obvious from the beginning that Pettine, former Jets defensive coordinator, Central Bucks West star, and North Penn coach, was not the Browns' first choice.
"A big part of being an NFL head coach is dealing with noise, dealing with distractions," Pettine said. "Just add that one to the list ... I think it shows that the organization is committed to getting it turned around, that it would investigate that option. I see that as a positive."
Isn't there more "noise" in Cleveland than anywhere else, though? The Browns fired coach Rob Chudzinski one year into his tenure, conducted a protracted search for his replacement, hired Pettine, then ownership fired CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi, who had conducted the coaching search.
"That's potentially an accurate statement," Pettine said. "I'd like to think it's going to get quiet. That's my goal, is to quiet the noise. The sooner I get off this podium and can go in there and start evaluating players, see if we can find some future Cleveland Browns, the better. I know a lot's happened. It's my goal to get the staff that I've hired moving forward, that we can quiet things down and go about the business of winning football games."
Pettine, 47, son of legendary CB West coach Mike Pettine, left no doubt that he is tremendously grateful for the chance to be an NFL head coach. He said he wants to prove he is not just "a high school coach," or "the guy who got Rex (Ryan)'s coffee."
He called himself "the proverbial guy from the mailroom."
Pettine's presser would have attracted a lot less attention a day earlier, before Pro Football Talk reported that the deal for Harbaugh would have happened, if Harbaugh hadn't eventually nixed it. The 49ers and Harbaugh have vehemently denied the report. The Browns issued a statement that was short of a denial. It seems obvious this was something Cleveland tried to do; the question is how close the Browns came, and what this means for Harbaugh's relationship with 49ers management going forward.
Harbaugh, who has taken the team to the NFC title game in each of his first three seasons, is heading into the fourth year of his original five-year contract. Talks for an extension have been going on for a while, with no resolution. Despite all his success, Harbaugh is said to be difficult to deal with, and not always on the same page with management.