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Randy Lerner is Hands-Off; Who Cares?

So Randy Lerner is a hands-off owner. For the most part, he lets his General Manager and coaching staff run the organization. He has been criticized at times for that approach.
Since when is it a necessary ingredient of being a successful professional sports owner to be actively engaged in the day to day operations? That is nonsense. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated released its best and worst NFL owners lists. The two most active owners in the League, Jerry Jones and Al Davis, did not make the top 5. In fact, Davis was rated the very worst in the NFL. The best was the Rooney family in Pittsburgh, not surprisingly given the team's success. Yet Dan Rooney is hardly what you would call interventionist. Lerner, incidentally, made neither the best five nor the worst five list.
The same phenomenon applies to all professional sports. Sure there are exceptions, like George in New York with the Yankees and Mark Cuban in Dallas with the Mavericks. But for the most part, success does not depend on the owner's active engagement; it depends on the owner's willingness to spend money, but most important, it depends on the owner's staff. Lerner has no problem with spending money - the Browns had one of the largest player payrolls in the League over the last few years. But Randy has made some mistakes with hiring. Hindsight is 20-20 of course, but Romeo Crennel was too defensive-oriented and not strict enough for such a young team, while Phil Savage had too limited experience with player personnel. Mangini and Kokinis are very different than their predecessors, so we at least give Lerner credit for mixing the formula up considerably.
Those who say that Lerner's passive approach is doomed for failure fail to recognize the dichotomy between the Browns' misfortunes on the field and the performance of the Aston Villa Football Club, which Lerner also owns as Chairman of the Board and which he runs with the same hands-off approach. Since 2002 when Lerner acquired the Browns, Cleveland has had just two winning seasons (in 2002, barely, and in 2007). Every other season was a bust as the Team placed significantly below .500 and dead-last in its division several times. Yet Aston Villa of Barclay's Premier League, since 2006 when Lerner took control, has had a winning record every year (placing 11th of 20 teams in 2006, and 6th of 20 teams in both 2007 and 2008). Same ownership. Same willingness to spend big money. A slight edge to Aston Villa but relatively equal player talent compared to the rest of the respective leagues. Both very competitive leagues, and both storied franchises. The real difference has been better coaching and management overseas.
Let's see another SI cover like the one above in the next few years. Help us achieve that, Mangini and Kokinis. Lerner will spend the money required. Go Browns!
Devo's Cleveland Browns

1 comment:

  1. i enjoy your article. im a featured writer for cavaliersmix and buckeyesmix. comment and ill comment back.