Around 9AM last Wednesday, Lane Adkins' phone started ringing. The reason? Lane began receiving congratulations from people inside and outside the Cleveland Browns circle for nailing the story of Carmen Policy's exit from the Browns back in February 2003.
In Lane's article, Carmen's Coastal Courtship Continues, he offered his thoughts that Carmen Policy would soon depart for the West Coast due to his interests in leading an inevitable new franchise to be placed in Los Angeles. Soon thereafter, as Policy indicated in last week's press conference, Randy Lerner prevailed upon him to stick around for a while longer. The five-year contract he later signed confirmed the common view.
Policy, however, still wanted to leave the Browns in the wake of Al Lerner's passing away, with an eye to heading back to the West Coast. Despite his dancing around the subject during last week's press conference, we at BerniesInsiders.com believe that the story we reported last year regarding Policy's desire to eventually drive an LA franchise remains the case.
Let's look at what we wrote last year and what legendary Cleveland sports journalist Hal Lebovitz wrote in this morning's Lake County News-Herald:
Lane Adkins, February 1, 2003:
If you haven't heard that Cleveland Browns President and CEO, Carmen
Policy could be headed back to the West Coast, then you haven't been with us at
Bernie's Insiders over the past few days.
But, that's alright, you are with us now, so let us recap what we have been told. The ‘word' that is coming from people in the know inside the cities of Cleveland and New York, and from the Super Bowl in San Diego, is that Policy has aspirations to head-up a new or existing franchise in the City of Los Angeles
Our original story on the potential departure of Policy to the West Coast has been met with serious interest, which has enabled Bernie's Insiders to gain some additional information.
Late this past week, the buzz within the league offices was that Carmen Policy would be heading up a franchise that will be placed in Los Angeles. Yes, we did say will be placed in the second largest market in the country.
Basically, that tells us that the chances of Policy landing the gig in Los Angeles is rated better that a 50-50 chance at this time. In what could be a telling situation, at least two members of Policy's staff with the Browns could be on the move. This only points to something significant that could be in the making.
Hal Lebovitz (Lake County News-Herald), April 11, 2004
Don't be surprised if the Browns soon-to-depart CEO Carmen Policy returns to football as the leader of a franchise in Los Angeles. Several NFL sources are convinced that he will become the point man for NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in bringing a team back to the Los Angeles area, a top priority of the Commish. Once Policy returns to the west coast to live, those NFL execs tell me he'll try to bring together would-be investors - several already have evinced interest - with Carmen as the CEO.... (Policy) could oversee his efforts in Napa Valley as well as put together a group for the LA franchise... If he is successful in establishing a team in LA, he'll probably get a portion of the ownership for his efforts. That's what NFL folks are saying".
Lebovitz goes on to echo what we have been saying here since the announcement was made: there is no evidence to suggest that Policy's exit was created by a rift or power struggle within the team or that Policy was somehow pushed aside by Butch Davis.
Instead, the scenario is playing out very much like Lane reported it would last year. Policy is heading out to the Napa Valley, where he will move onto other pursuits. As Lebovitz reported, those pursuits are very likely to include leading the attack to put a team in LA.
As Cleveland's top Browns writers looked back on the exit to search for reasons this morning, a number of reasons were suggested. Policy clearly felt less energized about his job with Cleveland following the loss of Al Lerner. He obviously would like to help develop his land in the Napa Valley.
Here are Bernie's Insiders, we believe that those are both factors, but that the most exciting long-term opportunity for Policy remains getting involved with a California franchise. We also believe that it's very possible that members of the current Browns organization would be interested in working again with Policy when that happens.
Lane Adkins reported it then, Hal Lebovitz echoed it today, and it remains very likely - and sooner than many expect.