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Justice Is Served


November 18, 2009 9:09 AM

Browns need 'great' mind now not later

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I hope Jim Brown wasn't lying. I mean, just the thought of a "great football mind" talking to Browns owner Randy Lerner, as Brown claimed the other day, is almost too delicious to consider.
 
You hope that's the case, if you consider yourself a Browns fans. You keep all your fingers crossed that Lerner will, finally, put his beleaguered franchise in the hands of a "great" mind who won't mismanage it.
 
Yet you find yourself saying: Haven't we heard all of this before? Weren't Phil Savage, Romeo Crennell, George Kokinis and coach Eric Mangini supposed to be great football minds, too?
 
And look at what they wrought.


Nowhere in this process of resurrecting the storied franchise that Art Modell had spirited off to Baltimore has the Lerner family, which was complicit in the team's leaving town in the first place, done well in putting together a quality organization. The family might know banking and credit cards, but the Lerners have no clue how to build an NFL team.
 
If they did, we wouldn't be here again. Essentially, the Lerners have returned Browns fans to 1999, the season the reincarnation of the Browns returned to town.
 
The franchise came back with great promise, rekindling an affair with a city that loved them as much ever. There was no ill-will toward the franchise. No one bemoaned what the Ravens, the old Browns, had become.
 
Instead, people here were celebrating and partying as if the new Browns were as appealing as the old -- or soon would be.
 
Fans don't feel that way anymore, not after witnessing firsthand a string of frustrating seasons and year after year of dysfunction inside the organization. They had been hopeful Randy Lerner, the family's face on the franchise, had gotten it right last off-season. The organization -- front office and its coaching staff -- were rebuilt for the long haul, a sturdy foundation for decades of success.
 
The Browns of today would be the Browns of yesteryear -- the Browns of Jim Brown's era.  
 
With the team now sitting on a 1-8 record, only a man who believes in fairy tales and the Easter Bunny can say this franchise is on solid footing. For these Browns are a bad NFL team -- a franchise beyond bad, so bad the expansion Browns of that first season look good in comparison.
 
Now we are to believe Randy Lerner will do what he has never been able to do since inheriting the franchise from his late father: make sound judgments about front-office personnel.
 
Pardon me if I don't think that's possible, although I do believe Brown when he said Lerner was talking to a "great football mind."
 
Talking ain't hiring, and Lerner needs to prove mistakes he made in hiring Kokinis and Mangini are the last mistakes he'll make. He must show fans he'll get it right his time.
 
For the Lerners have used up all the goodwill the city had toward them after the family brought the expansion franchise. Yes, the city couldn't wait for another NFL team, but it didn't expect it to be a team as sorry as this one has become.
 
Not even a "great football mind" can promise he will change things overnight -- not with the wreckage he'll be forced to clean up from the Kokinis-Mangini regime.  
 
Whoever that "great football mind" is, he'll be doing more dismantling than rebuilding.    
 

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