Browns owner to decide on fate of coach, GM after season

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner will wait until after the season before deciding on the future of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage.

During a rare interview Tuesday, the intensely private Lerner addressed a wide-range of topics, but steered clear of specific questions about Crennel or Savage. The two are under fire with the Browns at 4-7 and out of the playoff picture one year after winning 10 games and sending six players to the Pro Bowl.

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Lerner has not yet decided whether he'll bring back Crennel or Savage, whom he hired in 2005. The Browns are just 24-35 in that span and have yet to make the postseason.

"I will take issues and concerns and criticisms very seriously and think through them and evaluate them in January," he said.

Lerner did outline his criteria for evaluating his GM, who was forced to apologize to a fan last week for sending a profane e-mail following Cleveland's game at Buffalo.

"You weigh strengths and weaknesses," he said. "I think that Phil recruits as aggressively as anybody could ever ask a guy to do and as thoroughly as anyone could ask a guy to do. I think we've been a beneficiary of those skills and that determination and commitment."

The 46-year-old Lerner has been criticized by some Browns fans for not seeming more involved with the daily operations of his franchise, which he inherited following his father's death in 2003. Lerner also owns Aston Villa of the English Premier League, leaving some to wonder about his commitment.

"I care totally about the team," Lerner said. "When I reflect on that concern and criticism, it's probably a byproduct of the management approach I've chosen. If you're going to give people authority and hold them responsible and ultimately accountable for their performance, you've got to get out of the way. Especially when they have unique skills that you don't have, like picking players or coaching."

Lerner said he has no plans to sell the franchise and denied a rumor he has been approached about a possible deal.

"I'm not prepared to throw in the towel at 46 and suggest I can't get the job done," he said. "On the other hand, I don't want to live in some delusional bubble somewhere."

Lerner expressed frustration about not being able to build an identity for the Browns and described Sunday's home loss to Houston as "sickening."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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