The Phil Savage story continues into its second day, continuing to flourish despite the flat denials broadcast via the Browns "flagship" radio station and the team's web site on Friday evening.
Here are summaries of coverage from major sources of Browns news:
ESPN: ESPN's Chris Mortensen continues to stick by his story. Shortly before 9PM last evening, Mortensen and ESPN added several paragraphs to the story. One key paragraph reads: "However, there are ongoing talks between Browns owner Randy Lerner, team president John Collins and Savage to try to reach a deal in which Savage would accept a reduced role and still keep a job with the team." The story remains at the top of ESPN's NFL front page as of Saturday morning, despite Collins denial.
BERNIES INSIDERS/OBR: Although Bernie's Insiders has been instrumental in dashing a number of false reports this year from ESPN and web-based sources, information which has been made available to us lends credence to Mortensen's report. Last evening, a reliable NFL source told BerniesInsiders.com that the issues within the organization remain and that he remains convinced that Savage will leave the organization despite Collins' statements on Friday evening.
Bernie's Insiders' Lane Adkins, who has broken some of the biggest Browns stories in recent years, provided some new information and answered fans questions last evening in our exclusive Ask the Insiders forum.
In addition, Bernie's Insiders conducted an interview with Savage late last
week for an upcoming issue of magazine, which will be renamed The Orange and
Brown Report by the time the issue is released. In the interview, Savage
gave no indication that he felt that he would be leaving the organization.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS-HERALD: The Lake County News-Herald's Jeff Schudel also lends credence to reports of internal strife, quoting a source close to Savage as saying "It's been brewing for a long time. You wouldn't believe what's going on. It's all about control." Schudel also notes that Jim Brown commented on the team's flagship station that was some unhappiness with the way that Savage has been conducting negotiations.
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: As with Bernie's Insiders and the Lake County News-Herald, Tony Grossi's NFL sources are telling him to "Stay Tuned" and indicate that the story has not necessarily ended. Grossi presents Collins point of view and provides more information on the re-assignment of CFO Doug Jacobs and COO Lew Merletti to a Lerner holding company (Brooklyn Holdings), while Mike Keenan of the NFL Management Council will join the team. Interestingly, one of Grossi's sources said that Collins would leave the organization and head to the Lerner holding company as well, to be replaced by the Falcons Ray Anderson.
AKRON BEACON-JOURNAL: There is little editorializing in the local papers, who had mostly concluded their daily activities in Berea when the story began breaking Friday afternoon. Other than BerniesInsiders.com, the ABJ is the first out of the gate with op-ed pieces on Friday's flurry of activity. The ABJ's Terry Pluto opines that losing Savage will create a crisis of confidence with fans and the organization. Pat McManamon joins the parade of the skeptical, offering in his first paragraph that "Phil Savage's position as Browns general manager remains tenuous -- even though the Browns denied they were about to fire him." McManamon's sources tell him that Collins and Lerner are worried that contracts given to Braylon Edwards and Brodney Pool were excessive in future years.
CANTON REPOSITORY: The Canton Rep runs a brief interview with Savage which appears to have been intended for future or Sunday publication. As with Bernie's Insiders' recent interview, Savage provides no indication that his future with the team might be in doubt.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Associated Press expressed some skepticism with Collins' denial, noting that the team's president "wasn't as adamant when asked if Savage would resign." The AP recap notes the amendments to ESPN's original story and ties them to Collins' comments about the Browns "internal discussions". Additional skepticism is expressed as the AP story notes "Savage's uncertain status with the Browns is similar to Butch Davis' final days as Cleveland's coach last season".
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: James Walker of the Dispatch hews more closely to the team's version of events, and quotes Collins extensively through the piece. Bernie's Insiders has not linked Dispatch stories in recent years since they were shut off to all but newspaper subscribers, but this article was available to us this morning without going through a registration process.