Pettine talks coaching, Browns culture change

Mike Pettine, pictured speaking in Cleveland, made a trip to Columbus on Friday to speak to the Ohio State Coaches Clinic.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the first day his coaches met at a staff, new Browns coach Mike Pettine greeted them with some interesting power point slides.

The first was a chart full of numbers showing every Browns head coach and his record dating back to 1991 — a period during which the Browns have won 35 percent of their games. The next slide showed 141 names, 141 coaches of various positions and experience levels who had coached the Browns since 1999.

It was quite a list, a who’s-who of who’s failed and been fired.

"Decades of misery," Pettine told his audience Friday at the Ohio State Coaches Clinic while showing a couple hundred high school coaches those same slides.

His message for those coaches inside Ohio State’s Woody Hayes Athletics Center mirrored what he asked his Browns staff on that very first day.

What’s it going to take to change all this losing? Why can’t we be the group that changes it?

On multiple slides, in all capital letters, was, "HOW WILL WE GET IT DONE?"

"If you’re mired in a culture of losing," Pettine said, "you have to fight your way out of it."

Pettine spoke for more than 45 minutes alone on the stage Friday morning, following Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Pettine mixed humor with personal stories, details of his own journey from high school coach 12 years ago to the big office with the Browns and the characteristics he believes make winning staffs and winning programs.  

"Our ultimate task is to get players to play at a higher level than anyone thinks they can, including the players themselves," Pettine said.

The title of his presentation was "Building The Foundation." He spoke of his Pennsylvania roots, growing up and playing for his father, Mike Sr., a high school coaching legend, and the similarities he sees between Ohio and Pennsylvania when it comes to how football is followed and beloved. He grew up with this, wanting this and gave up a really good high school job to join the Baltimore Ravens in 2002 as a video coordinator, starting his NFL climb.

"Don’t tell our owner," Pettine told the coaches Friday, "but I’d do this for free."  

Pettine went through his list of staff attributes — passionate, competitive, honest, trustworthy and resilient were at the top — and used that to talk about the culture change he hopes to bring to the Browns.

"I’ve been a part of losing, of the same (circle)," he said. "Something goes wrong and you drop your head. ‘Same old Jets.’ You lose and you drop your head ‘Same old Bills.’

"I won’t allow it in Cleveland. We will be mentally tough. ‘Same old Browns?’ No. We can’t have that.

"This mountain of negativity, it can pile up."

He didn’t beat his own chest about his quick ascension through the coaching ranks, telling the crowd of coaches that "football is football" and "we coach the greatest team sport in the world. No matter where you are, please appreciate that."

He said he was a young coach who tried not only to outwork his peers but to make people notice, too.

"I was a grinder," he said. "If a guy was in his office until 2 a.m., I worked until 3 a.m. If he got three hours of sleep, I got two. And I wore that as a badge of honor."

That, he told the coaches, was not his smartest strategy.

"I’ve learned the value of a good night’s sleep," Pettine said.

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