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Browns fans say owner has dogged determination

BEREA, Ohio -- Die-hard Browns fan Mike Randall made sure he put on his Sunday best for his important meeting with team owner Randy Lerner.

He wore a giant plastic dog bone hat.

The season-ticket holder, aka "Dawg Pound Mike," one of the best known members of Cleveland's rabid bleacher section of fans, spent two hours on Tuesday meeting with Lerner, who stepped away from a turbulent week and his busy schedule for the visit.

Randall and his friend, Tony Schafer, have been encouraging others to stay out of their seats for the opening kickoff of Cleveland's next home game on Nov. 16 to protest the Browns' futility. The fans were scheduled to spend 30 minutes with Lerner but ended up staying much longer.

"It was great," Randall said. "How many owners would spend two hours meeting with two fans? None."

Randall said Lerner was receptive to their ideas for improving the Browns' game-day experience at Cleveland Browns Stadium and even tossed out a few of his own. Randall, who has met Lerner several times, came away impressed with the owner's passion and determination to get the Browns turned around.

"He's doing everything he can to improve the Browns," Randall said. "He wants it to happen -- now."

Lerner's meeting with the fans came less than 24 hours after general manager George Kokinis was removed from his job, the latest upheaval for a franchise that has made the playoffs just once since 1999 and is on its fourth head coach in 10 years.

The camera-shy Lerner has yet to address the circumstances surrounding Kokinis' departure.

Randall said Lerner liked the fans' idea for displaying some of the team's championship banners and retired jersey numbers inside the stadium. Lerner also seemed unaware of the strict security measures in place at the stadium, a zero-tolerance policy that has upset some Cleveland fans.

"He's a fan, just like us," Randall said. "He wants what's best for Cleveland and I believe him. He wants to win."

Randall said he and Schafer are going forward with the "Brown out" protest despite their meeting with Lerner. They will consider canceling it if Lerner agrees to speak to Browns fans, who walked out by the thousands during the second half of a recent home loss to Green Bay.

Randall said he presented Lerner with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that he felt best summed up his desire to have Browns fans heard.

"It says, 'In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing,"' Randall said. "Randy liked that. We're doing something. So is he."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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