Freddie Kitchens

USA Today

America’s Coach

Freddie Freaking Kitchens.

January 15, 2019 - 12:03 pm

Adam Gase lost the press conference, but you know who didn’t lose his press conference. Freddie Freaking Kitchens. Put aside for a moment the fact that Fred has assembled a killer staff with Steve Wilks as his defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as his offensive coordinator. Forget that for a moment and just marinate in his press conference from yesterday.

Just when I thought I could not love that hire any more than I already do, Fred sat down in front of the media and absolutely crushed it.

You see him at the press conference with the blazer on and the baseball hat and you know that he woke up feeling dangerous.

And he dominated from the outset.

He knew that he wasn’t one of the initial frontrunners for the gig, but he wanted the gig and he battled for it: “I really wanted to compete against everybody that wanted this job and that I was a legitimate candidate for this job. I wanted it. I wanted to go in and state my case, per se. But when I went in and stated my case, I was very proud that everything that I have put in my book was my words and my typing. Even though, my daughters had to show me how to do the PowerPoint”

He wasn’t just talking about scheme, he was dropping knowledge bombs from high altitude: “Two is one and one is none and I live by that. The letter “I” is I. It is not a “we.” It is not a word.”

Let me repeat that. Two is one and one is none. Live it. Learn it. Love it. Furthermore, I is a letter. We is a word. Learn that. Live that. Love that.

Because that’s what Freddie is all about. Freddie isn’t all about Freddie. He’s all about the team. And he’s all about football.

The Cleveland Browns didn’t hire a model, they hired a football coach. And a damn good one at that.

You want to know why Freddie feels authentic. Because Freddie is authentic. This is a guy who was a three-year starting quarterback at Alabama and then when his football career was over, he was selling cars during the week and washing FedEx trucks on the weekends for extra cash.

“Alabama would be playing, there were no televisions -- this was in a wash bay -- so I’d listen to it on the radio, and it would almost bring me to tears listening to it. I don’t know if I ever wanted to coach, but I knew that I couldn’t live without the game of football.”

I’ve practically got tears in my eyes hearing him talk about the tears in his eyes. That is freaking awesome. You know what else is awesome?

While the rest of you are all fired up about Cleveland going 7-8-1, Freddie is pissed. “It drives me crazy that people are happy with 7-8-1. It drives me literally crazy. If I was in a different setting, my vocabulary would demonstrate that. That is not acceptable. Nobody here wants that. We all understand that it was an improvement, but under no circumstances is that ever going to be acceptable. We only have one goal here and that is to host the Lombardi Trophy.”

But here was my biggest concern with Freddie. Not that he couldn’t do the job, but that he would be changed by the job. That he would become a head coach and he’d start acting all like a head coach.

He addressed that head on: “I don’t have to put on a show, so that is not going to change in front of the team. It kills me with some guys that they think they have to be more head coach-ish, or whatever you call it. I won’t be that. I will be who I am.”

I’ve never seen a head coach carried out of a press conference on everyone’s shoulders, but I was this close to flying to Cleveland to do just that. Incredible.

And let me close with one final line from Freddie: “if you do not wear brown and orange, you do not matter.” Hell freaking yes. America’s team is back. And if you do not wear brown and orange, you do not matter.