The year the Browns came back into the league in 1999, Al Lerner had somewhat right his wrong of assisting the devil re-incarnate (Art Modell) in moving the storied franchise to Baltimore in 1995, and leaving a blue-collar city without its #1 past time: Cleveland Browns football. The fans of Cleveland forgave Lerner, and all was right in the universe, or so it was until Lerner's unfortunate passing away in October of 2002 (R.I.P good sir). It was on this day, that the Browns were doomed, for Randy Lerner, the son of Al and future Aston Villa Futbol (Soccer for us Americans) owner took over as the owner of the franchise. Lets examine the success of the two and you will see what im talking about.
2002 was the last year the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs, despite the crushing lost to the Steelers in the playoffs thanks to the prevent defense and Antwan Randle El. That year the Browns barley qualified at a record of 9-7. Since that year, the Browns are a combined 33-63, with 10 of those wins coming in Derek Anderson's "miracle" season of 2007, where I have said, and to this stay stand by, that he only succeeded because no one had tape of Anderson. Check the statistics. Anderon's Pro-Bowl Season is a tale of two halfs, with his first 8 games being night and day from his second 8. But lets focus on the task at hand, Randy Lerner.
Butch Davis was fired in the middle of the 2004 season, after being hired in 2001 and going to the playoffs in his second year. This was coming two seasons after teasing Browns fans with a wild card game, and so Terry Robiskie was made interim coach. Now despite performing poorly, the players loved him, but he was still looked over for the job. Strike 1. So Lerner and co. go out and hire on the popular trend spree of the time, a Belichick disciple who many thought was the brains of those championship defenses, Romeo Crennell (Now more recognized as 'that guy on the Coor's Light commercials'". They also went to division opponent and ever-hated team in the greater Cleveland area, the Ravens, and took Phil Savage, who at the time was looked upon as a bright spot.
Romeo was given the grace of fixing the Butch Davis mess, and by his third season was in the green with a 10-6 record, but just missing the playoffs (remember the "Tony Dungy your our only hope" banner? Because I do). Anyways, to cut to the chase, Romeo apparently let his team get relaxed, went 4-12 the following season, and was booted right out the door with Savage right behind. So. I know what your thinking : One year from 10-6 grace, this team has talent it must have been the coaching..... Yea well that what a lot of fans thought. But for some unknown reason, Randy Lerner went out and got the recently booted, and yet again disciple of Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini.
Well needless to say for those who are familiar, "Mangenius" as the Cleveland faith have dubbed him, came to town and cleaned house. Trading away Kellen "the soldier" Winslow II, drafting a center in the first round after trading down multiple spots, and eventually cleaning away with Braylon "Butter-fingers" Edwards to New York. During this time, Mangini brings in over 10 Jets players, and made multiple deals with New York.... So this makes me wonder if Mangini is going back as a coordinator some day or something (Obviously he wont, but its suspicious is it not).
So im sure your asking, where does Randy Lerner come into this? Well as a Cambridge student, Lerner became more in love with futbol than football. He came over the Browns in 2002, and clearly has stopped watching since 2006 when he purchased Aston Villa. In 2004 Lerner was still familiar with the NFL, and hired Romeo Crennel, who was a disciple of the modern era dynasty of the New England Patriots, which would be considered smart. But after that failed in 2008, Lerner clearly had no been watching the NFL.
Why would someone go out and hire a coach like Eric Mangini if he had been paying attention to football at all? The man was not liked in New York, was clearly fired for a reason, and even to that point, is just a terrible coach. "Mangenius" has failed Cleveland fans from day one, from the reports of upsetting players in offseason training to letting his ego get the best of him and ridding the team of a player who was one the most talented athletes on the team. Im sorry but I dont care if his attitude was poor, he didnt run into problems with the league and played his heart out on the field.
Even this season, with the QB controversy that Mangini pressed on all off season to only make a switch less than a month later... wouldnt an owner who cared come out and say SOMETHING? Tennessee is winless but Bud Adams comes out and voices who he wants to start. If I were a Titans fan, that would make me feel a little better. I cant even tell you the last time I read a statement from Randy Lerner. I understand hands-off owners, but come on? Seriously?
Lerner clearly only has his teams net income in mind, being that the Browns remain profitable then some teams, he makes some return, and is cheap and does not spend money. For example, Josh Cribbs; If I were Lerner, I would have extended this guys contract in the off-season. But when one player has 2 of the 7 touch downs your team has scored all season, and he clearly outplayed the contract before, and if you dont pay him you will lose him, any right-minded owner concerned with winning would get that deal done. The same can be said for Brady Quinn; The only reason Anderson is still playing is so he doesn't hit that incentives mark in his contract and the Browns have to pay him more money....
Randy Lerner has let Eric Mangini destroy this team, and let Romeo Crennel run a laxed office in 2008 which led to a penalty ridden season and a 4-12 finish. Its clear Lerner has more interest in his Aston Villa club and not in the Cleveland Browns. For one, as I looked through Bleacher Reports pictures for a picture of Randy Lerner, only 2 were of him NOT at an Aston Villa match. In fact, the only ones of him in anything football related were of him and his father Al Lerner, which is clearly over 7 years old. For another thing, just google Lerner. Everything is Aston Villa (including this little jingle I found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeJpQlGW_GA), not even on wikipedia do the Browns get more than two sentences. You may say that is irrelevant, but when you OWN a franchise for 7 years, there should be just a tiny bit more than one sentence.
Here is my message to Randy Lerner: Get out of Cleveland. You are not your father and you do not care about America football. Do yourself and us a favor and stick to Aston Villa.
Randy Lerner has no knowledge of any of the football decisions he makes, which is clear by his hirings. He needs to go, he is ruining a city with only so many things to root for. He needs to pick one continent and stay on it. If he knows futbol better, by all means and all power to him, please do a great job at managing Aston Villa, please. Go. But dont hold on to your father's investment just because "AL" is something Cleveland Fans love and represent on the Browns jerseys. We appreciate all your father did for the city in bringing a team back after he originally took it away, not do us a favor and sell the team to someone who actually cares and stop dragging this team into the ground.
I have one theory, and it may be far fetched, but that this talk of an NFL franchise in London.... NO. The Browns have a 30 year lease on the stadium, and the NFL will never let you drag another team out of Cleveland.... I guess unless you drag the team under so long that Matt Millen starts to look like Paul Brown.
Who knows Brownies fans, maybe you will see the London Browns in 2012, at this rate it could happen. I just hope Randy Lerner has a soul and see's that what he is doing to this team and city is cruel.
An ever loyal Browns fan.
Special Thanks to thebrownsboard.com for the Randy Lerner song video