After spending five years away from football front offices, but still staying close with the league by working for NFL.com and the NFL Network, Michael Lombardi is back in the NFL and he’s back in Cleveland. He’s working under the role of vice president of player personnel, which has many wondering exactly who will have final say in Cleveland on important matters, including who will quarterback the team moving forward.
Michael Lombardi joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Bull and Fox to discuss returning to Cleveland, his first order of business, having better NFL Drafts than he has had in some of his past stops, the future of Brandon Weeden, new head coach Rob Chudzinski, who will make the final call on tough decisions and returning to a front-office position after some time away.
What does it mean to you to come back to Cleveland?:
“It means a great deal to me. I love Cleveland, always have. My two sons were born here. It was a great time — some great highs and some real big lows. Those lows always make you want to rekindle and come back and prove them wrong and start over.”
What’s the first order of business?:
“As much as I would like to sit next to Melissa Stark, I’m going to have to cash it out. I’m done with NFL Network; I’m moving on.”
Not the greatest drafts when you were here in Cleveland and kind of the same story in Oakland. Any comments on that?:
“If you want to do a report on that out in Oakland, to figure out who made those decisions, you can feel free. … Look, I think when you study football teams that win, I think they have to be good in every single element. I can only speak to the Cleveland element, because that’s the one I was really involved with in every area. We needed to do better.”
Will Brandon Weeden be on the roster on opening day 2013?:
“I just got here. I’ve got to watch tape. You want answers right away. Give me a little time. Can I evaluate a player? Am I allowed to do that? … I think it’s a different look when you’re talking about the media and when you’re evaluating a player in the media than when you’re evaluating a player in the building. I think that’s fair. I’m hoping you give me a chance to prove myself to you and the Cleveland fans do the same thing. And I’m going to look at every player on the Cleveland roster and give them a chance. I think it’s important to start fresh.”
Why do you think Rob Chudzinski was a good choice as the new head coach?:
“I got to spend some time with him this week for the first time. … I think in the NFL, you develop friendships by watching somebody else’s tape. I think Rob has always been a very innovative guy, going back to the year that Derek Anderson had here with Braylon Edwards and 16 touchdown passes and the offense they ran here. … There’s no school you go to to become a head coach. There’s schools you go to to become doctors. Unfortunately, in the NFL, you have to do it through training, and I think Rob’s done a great job at that.”
Ultimately, when it comes to the tough decisions, who is going to be the guy to make them?:
“Really, and this is not cliche, you want to build a culture where philosophies of everyone in the room are shared. When you have shared philosophies, it’s pretty easy to reach a decision. There’s an old saying that people equally informed will seldom disagree, and I think that’s the goal.”
Why come back to this role after a few years away with the NFL Network?:
“I just thought it was the right time. I thought it was really important that I had the right situation. … All things aligned.”