You take it all in, and you thank the scouts for their honesty.
Starting at 2:45, you run a two-hour practice. You move from position group to position group, teaching a little and observing a lot. It is such a good practice that, at the end, you tell the 85 players, "You know, it's easy to play on game day. Everybody gets up for game day. But you know what's tough? Coming out here, day after day, practicing twice a day in this heat, and practicing full speed. You know who does that? Winners. Winners do that! You're practicing like you want to go someplace big. Because you're doing that for me, I'm going to do something for you. We're going to have a quick meeting right after this, and then you're off tonight. Curfew's 11. You're free till then."
You walk briskly toward the bleachers by the practice field and greet the luxury-seat holders, who are waiting for you. "Every day when these players come out of the locker room, they see 2,500 Browns fans cheering for them. It is legendary that the Browns have the best fans in the NFL, and we're so lucky to see it every day."
It's 6:45, time for the meeting with pro personnel coordinators Steve Sabo and Jeremy Green. A contract extension for Johnson is under consideration, so you had asked them to compare Johnson with other top receivers over their first three years. The scouts produce eight pages of stats and notes that you will look over later. (On Aug. 17, Johnson signed a four-year extension.)
Next you pore over the NFL's daily report on player transactions and free-agent workouts, a two-page list sent to all clubs at 5 p.m. "Anybody see anyone who might help us?" you ask.
"Kenny Wright, possibly," Green says of the marginal cornerback released by the Minnesota Vikings. "I know him pretty well. I'm not in love with him, but he might be worth working out. A couple of years ago I'd have said, 'Get him,' because he'd have been better than anyone we had. Not now. I like our chemistry."
"Let's think about him," you say. "Now what about Andre Wadsworth? I'd like to see him. What about working him out?"
"Not ready, Coach," says Sabo of the former first-round draft pick who has been plagued by knee injuries since coming into the league in 1998. "He'll let us know when he's healthy enough."
It's 7:45, and dusk is setting in. You have dismissed the players, and most of the coaches, also recipients of a night off, are gone. The building is quiet as you walk back into your office. After a 14-hour day, you do not look tired. You are a football CEO. You have surrounded yourself with competent people who do the preliminary work. You use their information to make the important decisions.
"It is not ego that makes me want to do this," you say. "It's confidence in the system that I was brought up in. With the people I work with, I can spend 75 to 80 percent of my time on football, on coaching. I never have to be a micromanager. I just have to be the one who ultimately pulls the trigger."