Phil Savage Should Be Ashamed, and So Should the Organization

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Phil Savage Should Be Ashamed, and So Should the Organization
Phil Savage, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, was the victim of a bit of a professional faux pas this week involving a fan of the team.

A fan, who has declined to be identified, sent a series of emails to Savage, and he admitted in a Thursday interview on Cleveland radio station WKNR that he had been “badgering Savage throughout the game”, and finally in the fourth quarter sent him an email calling him “the worst GM in the history of the NFL.”

Normally, most GM’s probably don’t even check their email, but apparently, Mr. Savage must have had his trigger finger awfully close to the “inbox” button on his desktop, because he read the email, and sent back an email containing profanity to the fan.

The whole situation blew up in his face this week when news of the email went public, and he apologized to the fan publicly and privately for his response. Apparently, the fan apologized, too.

Awwww, how cute.

Let me tell you something, dear reader: There’s no reason in the world why a GM of a professional sports team should feel compelled to respond to something like an email from a badgering fan. They should realize that it’s merely a part of the game, and that there’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that anybody can do to make everyone happy when it comes to sports.

Even if a team goes 16-0 during the regular season, I’m sure that there would be some yuppie under the screen name BrownsDawgFan47 (if this is an actual user name I apologize; it’s meant as a generalization) who says that Romeo Crennel should have run up the score against Cincinnati and beaten them 47-0 instead of 31-3.

Sports fans are a notorious segment of the population, in that they are nearly impossible to please. For instance, I am friends with a lot of Cubs fans who, while the team was on its way to winning 97 games, did nothing but complain about the play of Derrek Lee. A guy who batted .290 or so this season wasn’t hitting with “enough power” for them, even though he was hitting doubles all over the park.

The point of this little aside is that you can never satisfy the entire mob when it comes to sports. You may be able to slake the thirst of 99.9 percent of the people, but that .01 percent will always be there, just like the stars in the sky.

Back to the story at hand, Mr. Savage exhibited a tremendous lack of judgment when it came to this situation. His lack of restraint and discretion cost him dearly in terms of reputation and stature in an organization that is scuffling through a bad season with a couple of high-profile signings (Anderson, Stallworth) not being up to snuff.

Romeo Crennel attempted to defend his GM during a press conference on Thursday.

“Phil generally, like the rest of us, tries to be professional and hold it in. But sometimes, some things slip out.”

There are two things that immediately jump out to me in this statement. The first thing is the use of the word “generally” by Crennel. This indicates to me that Savage has either fallen victim to this sort of rage with a fan before, or Crennel himself may have a guilty conscience about something he has said or done to a fan of the team. Call me a crazy conspiracy theorist, but I think there may be something to my outlandish charge.

The second thing about the statement is the last sentence. Some things slip out? Seriously? Is Romeo seriously naïve enough or stupid enough to think that we as fans can’t figure out that it’s awfully damn hard to let something “slip out” in an email?

Normally, when I’m typing an email, I generally have pretty good control of what is coming out of my fingers.

It is my experience that when something is typed out in front of your eyes, it is a lot easier to restrain yourself and say “hey, this is something I may regret saying later." I would be a lot more lenient if this incident had occurred during like a radio talk show or something to that effect.

For it to happen via email, however, leads me to believe that these words didn’t just slip out; they provide a better perspective of the man than he may realize.

This also isn’t the first incident where the Browns have had a lapse of organizational judgment. Their handling of the Kellen Winslow situation earlier this season was absolutely deplorable.

They suspend the guy for comments that he made about the team’s lack of caring, but then they turn their back on the suspension and make it go away when it was revealed that a team employee had sent Winslow a text message to not disclose that he had staph.

This kind of organization is one that makes my heart shudder as an observer of the sports world. It’s one thing to have a guy like Al Davis who merely rips you in the media (and I use the word “merely” loosely), but he doesn’t try to pull your strings behind the scenes and dictate what you can and can’t say about your ailments.

I’d also be willing to bet that if the GM of the Raiders did something like was done by Mr. Savage, Al Davis would have him packing his backs for not only being classless but spineless as well.

I do believe that Mr. Savage is genuinely sorry for what he said. I also believe that the fan involved isn’t really a “fan” as much as either an “instigator”, or one of those people that Rich Rodriguez said should get lives.

I don’t think that he should be fired from his post as GM based solely on this incident, but I do believe that it should be taken into account when Browns brass takes stock of what occurred to the team this season.

Let us all hope that this organization, which has put Cleveland through such heartache and anguish, can turn the corner and make amends with its most important and valuable asset: its fans.

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