Having at least helped start the bonfire, we’re glad to note that others in the media are dumping, appropriately, on Browns head coach Romeo Crennel and receiver Braylon Edwards.
Just last evening, for example, Fox 8 sports director Tony Rizzo joined the chorus screaming in unison that Crennel must go. In this morning’s Plain Dealer, columnist Bud Shaw, while stopping short of calling for Crennel’s dismissal, at least sought to hold him responsible for what he called the “slow crawl of progress out of Berea.” Likewise, in the Beacon Journal, columnist Terry Pluto basically tells Edwards to just shut up.
We liked both columns, of course, mainly because we agreed with them. But in each case we can’t help but get the feeling that punches were pulled, which is why we liked Rizzo’s commentary so much. Both Shaw and Pluto were rightly critical of Crennel’s many and varied shortcomings. But why, then, stop short of making the final point: that Crennel is ill-suited to lead the team of the abyss that his management style has helped create?
And this isn’t just about, as Shaw suggests, publicly hanging Edwards out to dry just to placate the public. It is about the fact that Crennel can’t even demonstrate sufficient public leadership to make anyone believe that he’ll find a way to clamp down on Edwards, thereby giving both the fans and the team reasons to believe that Crennel really is in charge.
Normally, we’re firm believers in handling these kinds of matters behind closed doors. Generally, you don’t discipline an employee in front of his co-workers and you don’t criticize one of your players to the media. But these are hardly normal or general times. Edwards transgressions have been very public. The first was his open suggestion that his gratitude could be bought (or lost) depending on whether the head coach allowed him to attend the Ohio State/Michigan game in Columbus. When the Crennel laughed off the incident by telling the media that indeed Edwards had rethought the request, it was Crennel who ended up with egg on his face when Edwards was perched prominently on the Michigan sideline at The ‘Shoe. Crennel, of course, did nothing. Edwards had a decent game against Pittsburgh the next day but who’s to say that his getting run down on the 19-yard line wasn’t the result of being tired from the previous day.
The second and third transgressions occurred last week when, in the course of one media session, Edwards trashed safety Brian Russell and play caller Jeff Davidson. Crennel, as is his wont, again laughed off the incidents by suggesting that Edwards is just young and doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. But wasn’t it Crennel, again, who ended up with egg on his face when Edwards publicly embarrassed his teammates on Sunday?
The point, we think, is that Edwards very public disrespect and “me first” attitude deserves and equally public dressing down by the head coach. It is incumbent upon Crennel to discard his avuncular favorite uncle approach to dealing with problems, if just this one time, to show that if the ship is going down, and it is, he’s still the captain.
Instead, we get what we always get from Crennel: we’ll handle it internally. The first person that doesn’t believe that’s code for “hopefully this will blow over and I won’t get any more questions about it” please raise your hand.
At this point it’s beyond cliché that the fans deserve better. But phrases become clichés because they are so true it’s hardly necessary to continue to say the obvious. And that’s certainly the case here. The bottom line is that this franchise, since its return and except for one brief moment when they miraculously made the playoffs, has been embarrassment of epic proportions. The Browns, from top to bottom, continue to find new and insidious ways of alienating their fan base. It’s about time, someone, anyone, step forward, proclaim himself in charge and actually take responsibility for fixing this mess. Which reminds us of another cliché: if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.