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Mike Silver’s friendship with Hue Jackson makes things awkward on NFL Network

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns celebrates with Baker Mayfield #6 after a 21-17 win over the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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NFL Network’s Mike Silver is buddies with former Browns head coach Hue Jackson. Everyone who works in the NFL media business knows this. When Jackson became the Browns’ head coach, Silver got the scoop. Some reporters are friends with some coaches, and sometimes friends do favors for friends.

The problem with Silver is that he’s so transparently in the tank for Jackson that he is completely divorced from reality. Silver simply cannot accept the fact that Jackson was a big part of the problem in Cleveland, and that firing Jackson was a big part of the solution.

That creates an issue for NFL Network because the Browns are the talk of the NFL right now, after trading for Odell Beckham Jr. Any fair-minded person analyzing the NFL has to admit that the Browns are a team on the rise, and that their rise coincided with the firing of Jackson: As the Browns’ head coach Jackson went 3-36-1, after Jackson was fired midway through the season the Browns finished the year 5-3, and now the Browns are viewed as a likely playoff team for the first time in years.

So what did Silver say about the Browns today? He said quarterback Baker Mayfield is the problem.

“I would argue that the quarterback needs to grow up and that somebody in the organization needs to tell him what it is to be a professional, so I’ll just put that out there,” Silver said.

That is an obviously preposterous statement -- Mayfield looked outstanding after Jackson was fired, and Silver is just salty because Mayfield made no secret of the fact that he was glad the Browns let Jackson go. Silver’s NFL Network colleague Michael Irvin started to argue with Silver, but it was Rich Eisen who really stuck a knife in Silver.

After Silver made his comment, Eisen got up out of his chair and asked, “Is Hue around here? Is he here? Hue? Hue, are you here?”

The obvious implication from Eisen is that Silver is so concerned about protecting his buddy that he talks about Jackson like his friend is right there over his shoulder when he’s on the air.

Eisen was right. Silver is unwilling to speak honestly about the Browns because he’d rather protect Jackson than give NFL Network viewers an honest assessment.