Buckey is speechless.
"If they were on the expansion list," says Palmer, "they're on it for a reason. It's not going to do any of us any good to pretend they're great players. If they're going to help us, they've got to improve their weak points."
MARCH 11: LEXINGTON, KY.
The football world thinks that the Browns are considering which of these three players to make the first pick in the draft: Tim Couch or Akili Smith, both quarterbacks, or running back Ricky Williams. Palmer, sitting in the bleachers at the University of Kentucky's field house before Couch's NFL workout, narrows the field.
"Out of the 309 prospects at the scouting combine, guess who had the smallest hands?" he asks a reporter.
"No clue," the reporter replies.
"Ricky Williams," he says. "And I like throwing to my backs."
Couch is warming up on the artificial turf, overseen by his own off-season coach, former NFL offensive coordinator Larry Kennan, when Browns college personnel coordinator Phil Neri clambers up to see Palmer. "He's planning to go through all his routes, throwing one to each side," Neri says. That would mean 30 throws or so. "That O.K.?"
"No, it's not," says a suddenly edgy Palmer. "I want to see 75,100 throws. I want to tire him out. You go tell him we're about to spend $50 million on a player, and if he doesn't want to do what we want, we'll go home right now."
As Neri walks away, Palmer shakes his head. "I didn't sleep last night," he says. "We're about to make the most important decision in the history of this franchise, the new franchise. If it's a quarterback, I've got to be comfortable with the guy. I'll be working shoulder to shoulder with him for the next 10 years—I hope. Like I told him: 'Tim, I'm going to have eyes out there. You're down at the Flats [a downtown Cleveland party spot] getting poured into a limo, I'll know. I've got to trust you.' So he and his people better realize how important this is."