Browns Try and Earn respect

The Browns have not yet sold out next Monday night’s game against Baltimore and are facing their first TV blackout since 1995. A team spokesman said “a few thousand” tickets remained for the game. I saw on a blog site that a fan suggested that Browns owner, Randy Lerner or the team should purchase the remaining tickets and give them to area school children. All in the name of trying to gain a little respect around the country.

As of right now, this year has been an embarrassment. The team was criticized for the quick hiring of Coach Eric Mangini and then the fact that he recommended who should be hired to fill the vacant GM post. That choice turned out to be George Kokinis. Browns coach. When that announcement was made, Eric Mangini offered no details about the team’s decision to move on without his longtime friend and hand-picked GM. Is it a sign of just how feeble this once proud franchise has become? It’s still not known if Kokinis was fired or forced out by the Browns and that is leading to speculation that Lerner wants to not pay Kokinis the rest of his salary. To the NFL community, the Browns have become a laughing stock.

Lerner has to shoulder the blame for the mess the franchise is in. He made the decisions to hire the team of Mangini and Kokinis. The fact that he hired the coach first was ridiculous. In retrospect, Lerner should have just stuck to the old-fashioned method of hiring a general manager and then seeking out a new coach. Ten months later and Lerner is still paying the price. There are 32 teams in the national Football League. The Browns are (1-7) and their offense is ranked 31st, their defense 32nd and there is no visible signs that they have a clue on how to get better. Whenever I listen to a news clip on television that has Mangini speaking, he is hesitant, lacks confidence and has the look of a beaten man. I am not professing to know more about football than he does, but he is clearly lacking as a NFL head coach. We just had Romeo Crennel here and he too, was in over his head.

Mangini should be nervous. Mangini may not have considered is it could be tough for Lerner to convince a legitimate football guru to come to Cleveland with the current coaching system in place. A new GM will almost certainly hasten Mangini’s anticipated short tenure in Cleveland. Where does that leave the fans? Angry and frustrated. According to an AP article published on November 7, “Some fed-up Browns fans plan to display their disgust by staying out their seats for the opening kickoff of the Nov. 16 game against Baltimore. They’re hoping to show Lerner, the league and a Monday night TV audience that they won’t take anymore.”

Here’s how I see it. The Browns are in a state of disarray. It is what it is. We fans need to realize that Lerner, like many of us, is not perfect and is learning from his mistakes. He will pay the price financially. Yet, there will be a meeting of the minds. Someone will see the Cleveland situation as having no where to go but up. It will be an opportunity to make a name for himself. He will be given wide ranging power in hiring and personnel decisions. His influence will bring on an experienced NFL coach who will be given five years to put together a staff and a team identity. The fans will still need patience, but there will finally be stability and a reason for hope.

It is the only way to go. It is the only way to rebuild a once storied franchise and to gain back respect in the NFL community. Lerner will possible consider taking on some outside consultants in order to make a sound management hiring decision. Even the President of The United States has to rely on others before making command decisions. The only choice left for the fans to make will be if they still care enough about the Browns to want to see how this all turns out. Like Rodney Dangerfield used to say, “Life is just a bowl of pits.”eric mangini

Ken ratajczak
Sports Pundit member

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