Press conferences tend to be, well, boring. Speakers get taken out of context often, so they, in turn, restrain from saying anything even the slightest bit controversial.
New Cleveland Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens is not worried too much about that. His official press conference was proof that how genuine and real Kitchens is. With The Browns’ recent history of less-than-forthright coaches (Mangini, Jackson), Kitchens proves to be a refreshing breath of honesty.
Here are five quotes from Kitchens from his presser that are honest, yet telling, of what this organization was and is going to be under him:
“Everything we do in this organization,…we’re together. If you don’t wear Brown and Orange, you don’t matter. This is the only organization we care about right now, and that’s The Cleveland Browns.”
Authenticity flows from this guy’s soul. He is not just paying lip service to a skeptical, hardened Cleveland Browns media and fan base; he means it. He is not looking down the road at a network analyst’s spot. He is not fronting for the documentary cameras. He is not using this as his retirement money. He is the head coach of this team today.
“It’s ‘We’, ‘Us’, and ‘Our’, ‘cause we’re going to take ownership of this thing.”
In a separate interview, Kitchens was asked if he was nervous before this conference. He calmly and confidently said he was not because he speaks his mind and heart. This quote above seemingly expresses a backhanded opinion of how Jackson ran The Browns.
This is a very insightful yet cryptic slight toward Jackson. Even if that was not Kitchens’s intent, the fact that Jackson went to the media almost immediately after he was released lends to much credence to Kitchens’s truth.
“It drives me crazy that people are happy with 7-8-1….That’s not acceptable.”
Complacency has been a disease in this franchise almost ever since 1999. From overpriced, over-the-hill free agents who checked out by Thanksgiving, to coaches coaching for their next jobs, to front office personnel who seemed more interested in planning their vacations than planning how to move The Browns forward, this team has become a desert for football due to complacency. While Kitchens recognizes 7-8-1 as an achievement and an improvement, in no way will he be satisfied until he “hoists the Lombardi trophy.”
“When everybody has a desire to win, and they check their ego at the door to get it done, then everyone should be successful.”
The argument could be made that the Jackson Regime was coming to an end as early as the famous Haley/ Jackson discussion seen on the HBO Series Hard Knocks. Some of the coaches, especially Haley, a coaching descendant of Hall of Famer Bill Parcells, openly questioned Jackson’s easier tone during training camp.
The coach who initiated the challenge to the king? Running Backs Coach Freddie Kitchens.
“I was a Browns fan when I was growing up….When The Cleveland Browns were on television, I was watching The Cleveland Browns. I like the uniforms. I like the color of the helmet. I’m a traditionalist.”
This quote will definitely endear him to the Dawg Pound. What is even more interesting is that he does have a more intimate knowledge of the history of The Browns. One thing true Browns fans relish is the history of the team. It is reassuring to hear that even the head coach recognizes that this team, even as recent as the 1980s, used to be a respected franchise.
One notable theme of this presser is Kitchens’s repetition of “person over player”, building relationships, and his importance on trust and honesty. It is clearly more important to him to be genuine; only there can a coach get the best out of his players. Seeing as though this team has suffered its share of disingenuity from the coaching staff, it will be interesting to see how being real works for a while.
You can watch the whole press conference here.