Levine: What's a Few Days?

Perhaps we should remember a lesson from a few years ago...

The worst kept secret in football is that Romeo Crennel will be named as the next Cleveland Browns head coach.  Browns fans have patiently been waiting that announcement since Butch Davis ‘resigned' with five weeks remaining in the regular season, meaning the players still under contract haven't had anyone to answer to in over two months

Speculation is that Crennel might be announced at a press conference as early as Monday afternoon, the day after the Super Bowl.  Hopefully the Browns have learned from the history of the re-born franchise, prior to their first season back in the NFL in 1999.  The obvious first choice for head coach at the time was Brian Billick, Offensive Coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, who was also being courted by the Baltimore Ravens.  Immediately after a tough NFC championship game loss to Atlanta, Dwight Clark got on Al Lerner's private plane and attempted to bring Billick back to Cleveland that night.  He refused to go, rightfully wanting to be with his team and recover from the loss which prevented the Vikings from going to the Super Bowl.

Ironically, David Modell, took the high road.  He told Billick to take his time, and whenever he was ready, he would be welcomed to interview for the job in Baltimore.  Later that week, that is what Billick did---and the rest is history.  I don't know whether Billick preferred Cleveland over Baltimore (I doubt it because the Ravens were an established team, ready to contend for a title), but the holier-than-thou attitude of the Browns front office prevented us from finding out.

Hopefully, Randy Lerner, John Collins, and Phil Savage have a little more respect for Crennel than the previous regime had for Billick.  Win or lose on Sunday, the Patriots Defensive Coordinator will need some time to recuperate from the game, as well as the season.  After the pressurized atmosphere of the Super Bowl, it would be a dis-service to Crennel to immediately thrust him into the head coaching job the next day.  Other than finding coaches to fill out his staff, there is no reason that he isn't given a week or so until he takes over the job here.  After the contract is signed, there will be so many details to attend to that there might not be any time for Crennel to step back and take a deep breath.  Remember, he has had no time off since the month of May, preparing for this season, culminating in the third Super Bowl appearance in four years.

Watching the festivities at the Super Bowl this week, I am reminded by an embarrassment to the city of Cleveland that was avoided back in the late 90's.  Former Mayor Mike White was pushing for a domed stadium, with a promise that he had from Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, that a Super Bowl would be held here within the first decade of the return of the franchise.  Somehow, White must have assumed that the public would have the opportunity to attend the game, and the city would receive much need publicity.  My guess is that no more than 5,000 Cleveland area people would have been able to get tickets, even at an inflated cost.  Apparently he was not aware of the fact that Detroit became a laughing stock around the country for its handling of a Super Bowl (they will get another chance soon.  With apologies to other major cities, if the NFL doesn't change the policy to give the team with the best record in the regular season the home field advantage, then the Super Bowl should only be played in four different cities---Miami, New Orleans, San Diego and Pasadena.

In addition, I can't think of a good reason that there is an off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.  However, if they leave it that way, it would be a good week for a college National Championship.  If that doesn't happen, the Pro Bowl should be scheduled then.  Very few Super Bowl participants play in that game, and players from teams like the Browns haven't played in five or six weeks.  The game is meaningless---I haven't seen one play from scrimmage in around 35 years---but it seems ridiculous to have non-playoff participants stay in game shape for another month and a half or so.

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com

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