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A Profile of Al Lerner

Mr. Alfred Lerner was born on May 8, 1933. The son of an immigrant candy shop owner, Mr. Lerner went from his birthplace, Brooklyn, New York, to Columbia University, to the United States Marine Corps (1955-1957), to the business world. His folks were Jewish-Russian immigrants. His first real job was selling furniture for less than $100.00 per week in Cleveland, Baltimore and New York City. A far cry from the billion dollar fortune that he had amassed by the early 21st Century. Real estate eventually replaced furniture selling for Mr. Lerner. It began with the purchase of an apartment building in Cleveland. In 1991, he moved on to become a minority owner of MBNA Credit Corporation. Mr. Lerner served as the Corporation's CEO until his death on October 23, 2002 at age 69. He became the Chairman of MBNA Bank by investing 100 million dollars of his own money. At the time of his death, it was reported that his fortune stood at more than 4 billion dollars. He still lived in Ohio when he died - in Shaker Heights. Northern Ohio was the recipient of millions of dollars in donations over the years from Mr. Lerner. His philanthropy was impressive. He donated more than 100 million dollars in total to Cleveland's hospital system including the Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospitals of Cleveland. He was the President of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. 25 million dollars went to Columbia University in 1999 to build the new student center which was named Alfred Lerner Hall. The Hall contains a plaque to honour Mr. Lerner's military service in the Marine Corps. There is also a College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware named after Mr. Lerner.

Mr. Lerner became a minority owner of our Cleveland Browns under the Art Modell regime. When Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore, Mr. Lerner worked with the NFL to create a "new" team in Cleveland. Mr. Lerner had no intention of creating a "new" team; he intended to bring the Browns back to their home. In 1998, Mr. Lerner invested 530 million dollars for the rights to the Cleveland Browns. The Team is worth considerably more than that currently.

Mr. Lerner had two children, Nancy and Randy. His son, Randy Lerner, is the current owner of our Browns. But the initials stitched on the shoulders of Browns jerseys belong to Al Lerner.

Remember The Drew Carey Show with its theme song "Cleveland Rocks"? Season eight of that show ended with a special tribute to Mr. Lerner.

Say what you want about the performance on the field of the Browns over the last ten years; the fact is that we are indebted to Mr. Lerner for restoring pro football to Cleveland and for having the fortitude to insist that the franchise retain its proper name, records, and so on. As human beings, we are also grateful for his public generosity.

Go Browns!

-Clayton

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