Crennel: Out of the Shadows provides a different look at the introduction of Romeo Crennel as the Browns new head coach for 2005. Some thoughts about the differences between Crennel and his predecessor, Butch Davis, from a different perspective...

After 24 years in the NFL shadows, Romeo Crennel took center stage on Tuesday as he was introduced as the Cleveland Browns head coach.

"I get the spotlight, huh?" he said to the packed media room after agreeing to a five-year, $11 million contract.

Crennel reveled in finally having become a head coach, but he's not the type who needs the limelight. Anyone who knows his background understands that.

He has worked almost his complete NFL career under Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick, neither of whom allows their assistants to speak to the media.

Even during his playing days at Western Kentucky, selflessness was a Crennel trademark. As a senior, he probably would have been an all-conference defensive lineman. But when the Hilltoppers' offense was struggling, Crennel didn't hesitate to switch sides of the ball when coaches asked.

"That's part of my team makeup," Crennel said. "I don't know who instilled that, whether it was my mother or my family or the coaches who talk about `team."'

In some ways, Crennel's credentials are similar to those of Butch Davis when he took over four years ago. Davis had earned two Super Bowl rings in Dallas and had led the University of Miami program back to prominence. Crennel has five Super Bowl rings, the last coming Sunday when, as defensive coordinator, he helped the Patriots beat the Eagles.

But in other ways, Crennel and Davis are vastly different.

Crennel does not pretend to be a savior, which is probably wise considering the team he inherits. Davis liked to convey that he had most if not all the answers.

Davis' ego proved to be his undoing as he alienated players and the front office with his autocratic ways.

Crennel is likely to be more of a consensus-builder, and not just because he must work with new general manager Phil Savage, who will have final say on the roster.

Davis viewed himself as a boss. Crennel considers himself a teacher first.

"I can teach football," he said. "I can teach fundamentals. I can teach technique.

"I'm somewhat of an even-keel guy. I'm not Knute Rockne, but I can motivate. Guys play for me.

"I try to find out what a guy needs. If he needs me putting my arm around him, I will put my around him. If he needs me yelling at him, I can yell at him. If he needs me to give him a nudge, I can give him a nudge. If he needs me getting a veteran to talk to him, I can do that."

There have been many successful coordinators who flopped after ascending to head coach.

At 57, Crennel is old to be getting his first shot. But the Browns believe they are fortunate to be getting someone with the experience, expertise and wisdom of Crennel.

Crennel's age was discussed by the Browns brass before his interview. It became a non-issue after Savage, team owner Randy Lerner and president John Collins met with Crennel on Jan. 7 in Savage's first act as general manager.

"There was something about Romeo and the confidence and passion he had for the game and for his coaching style -- his emphasis on teamwork," Collins said. "(He had) this sort of aura that this guy was ready for this job. It was the first time the three of us were together, but we were all shooting each other looks saying, `This is the guy.'"


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