Justice Is Served

November 5, 2009 6:26 PM

Clueless owner a slow 'Lerner' in Cleveland

I figured out right away the plot to "Sleepless in Seattle," but I have yet to make sense of its sequel. 

Has anybody heard of it? 

They're calling it "Clueless in Cleveland."
The storyline is simple: The son of a billionaire banker inherits an NFL and its legacy after his father's death. The son, averse to the spotlight, plays the part of the inattentive patriarch, a man of leisure inclined to put his franchise into somebody else's hands to run.
But each person the son picked to run it proved incompetent, dragging the team to the bottom of the NFL and squandering the goodwill its loyal fans had for a storied franchise. Personnel mistakes, front-office discord, injuries to marquee players and in-fighting left what the son inherited from his father in disrepair.
The son vowed he would make credible changes. He would hire a football man with unassailable credentials, would oversee his work in a more structured way and would turn a god-awful team into a championship contender.
His words, wrapped in frustrations and anger, resonated with fans like a gospel hymn. The son seemed to understand that he had made mistakes, that he -- and he alone -- had ruined what had been a proud legacy. Finally, he would set things right.
Well, past mistakes served as stark reminders that the son wasn't smart enough to disconnect from his past. The son's present showed his mistakes were like crabgrass: They kept popping up.
His latest mistake: the decision to let the coach have a say in hiring his boss. The coach had say-so the last time, and it worked about as well as the drafting of Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Kellen Winslow Jr., Gerard "Chump Change" Warren and William Green did.
So here the son goes again, down a familiar path toward another disaster. Unlike his father, the son is slow Lerner -- ah, a slow learner. He has the intellect of the Scarecrow before he journeyed to Oz.
Too bad the son can't ask the Wizard for a brain or click the heels of his Gucci loafers and turn the Browns into a decent football team. That's all people have asked from the man whose father brought football back to Cleveland.
It wasn't good football the father brought in; it was a patchwork expansion team, an expensive one, too. His buying the team was repayment for letting the original Browns flee a city that worshiped them. Their fans were happy the team, cobbled with castoffs, has-beens and never-weres, had returned.
They were oh-so forgiving of whatever the father put on the field. And he didn't put much of a team out there. The father did make his share of mistakes, none of them as damning as his son's.
Endless mistakes can ruin whatever goodwill fans hold for a team. That's what has happened in Cleveland to the franchise the father willed his clueless son. But the son can't make this mistake; the son can't possibly allow the coach, clueless as well, to play a role in hiring the team's general manager.
It was a mistake the last time the son tried this approach; and it can't be a sage idea for him to try it again. If he does, it might be the last mistake the loyal fans he inherited from his father will allow him to make.
Those empty seats the son sees inside his stadium each Sunday will be people's dollar-and-cents reaction to his being clueless in Cleveland far too long.  

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