SBD/Issue 52/Franchises

Randy Lerner Denies Talk Of Browns Sale To Under Armour's Plank

Lerner Is Contemplating Making Major Changes
Within The Browns Organization This Offseason
Browns Owner Randy Lerner Tuesday "shot down a rumor making the rounds that he has been approached" by Under Armour Chair & CEO Kevin Plank about a possible sale of the team, according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Lerner, during a rare 60-minute interview with the media, insisted that his "passion for re-establishing the franchise's long-lost winning ways is as fervent as ever." Lerner: "I feel totally engaged. I will stay committed and focused. I have no plans to sell the team. I'm not prepared to throw in the towel at the age of 46 and suggest I can't get the job done." In addition, Lerner confirmed that he is "contemplating major changes in the off-season but is weighing another organizational shake-up against the goal of continuity." Lerner said that he was "'very' concerned with credibility issues that arose" from TE Kellen Winslow Jr.'s retracted suspension, as well as the recent incident in which Browns GM Phil Savage "used a profane word in an email to an angry fan." Lerner admitted that there exists an "organizational void in communicating to the public on non-football matters." Grossi noted the sit-down for the "publicly-shy" Lerner was "done ostensibly to deliver the message that Lerner is not oblivious to the fan outrage building over another losing season" (CLEVELAND.com, 11/25).

MISTAKES BY THE LAKE: Lerner Tuesday said, "We have not established an identity and I find that very frustrating. The Steelers, a coach and a group of players show up, memorable plays are made and a myth and a legend and an identity is born. The Rooneys were able to parlay that into another administration under Bill Cowher. I'm very envious of that" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 11/26). Lerner said that the team has "not made any overture" about a future coaching vacancy to CBS' Bill Cowher (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 11/26). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote Lerner admitted that the Browns have "no real identity," and "that starts with the coach," Romeo Crennel. Lerner's "general approach of hiring football people, sitting back and then holding them accountable is the correct one." But that means that the Browns "must have a general manager or coach who can say, 'This is the kind of team we want to have, and this is what we expect from the players'" (CLEVELAND.com, 11/25). A PLAIN DEALER editorial stated if Lerner "can't hire the right people to fix this colossal mess, he should sell the team to someone who can." The Browns "should be thankful the Detroit Lions are still" in the NFL, because otherwise the Browns "would be the front-runner for the league's most pathetic." That the team's "phenomenal fan base continues to support this franchise is nothing short of a miracle" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/25). 

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