INDIANAPOLIS — After a 25-day search, the Cleveland Browns hired Mike Pettine as their new head coach last month.
But the drama wasn’t done. Less than three weeks after Pettine took the job, the Browns announced the dismissal of chief executive officer Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi, Banner after a transition and Lombardi immediately.
Then there was the report — posted by the Pro Football Talk website Friday — that before hiring Pettine the Browns tried to trade for Jim Harbaugh with San Francisco.
Pettine? He just shrugged it off, which is probably the kind of attitude a guy who has become Cleveland’s seventh coach since 1999 has to have.
“I got a phone call saying that report was going to come out, and I shot the messenger a little. I asked, ‘How does that affect my tenure as the head coach?’ I think my next sentence used the word ‘flying’ followed by something or referenced a part of a rat’s body,” Pettine said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine. “I think that’s noise. It has no bearing on my job moving forward.”
The report said the Browns and 49ers had a deal in place but Harbaugh decided to stay put. Via Twitter, 49ers CEO Jed York denied that was true.
The Browns issued this statement: “The team conducted an extensive coaching search and explored several options. That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine, and we’re excited about his future with the club.”
Pettine said the lack of denial by the Browns didn’t bother him, either.
“I think it shows the organization’s committed to getting it turned around, that it would investigate that option,” Pettine said. “I see that as a positive.”
Pettine said he has no regrets about leaving his post as Buffalo’s defensive coordinator to take the job with the Browns.
“No, because that’s negative. To me, this is a dream come true. I pinch myself every day. I wake up in the morning and I say, ‘I’m head coach of the Cleveland Browns. I can’t wait to get to work,’” Pettine said. “There’s so much negative, I think you can get overwhelmed by it. I don’t see it that way. I know that I’m very blessed to be here.”
Harbaugh has led the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games, but they lost their only Super Bowl appearance with him. He just completed his third season of a $25 million, five-year contract.