Lerner: Still "Learning"

Randy Lerner is learning his way as owner of the Cleveland Browns after taking over for his father. The Cleveland Browns owner talks about the team and his approach as an owner.

 He has said it before and he will say it again. To Randy Lerner, owning the Browns is a privilege.

Randy took ownership of the Browns in 2002 when his father, Al, passed away. He is not a meddlesome owner, but he has made changes. Most notably, he hired Phil Savage as general manager, Romeo Crennel as head coach and parted with former team presidents Carmen Policy and John Collins.

"I'm learning," Lerner said before practice Saturday evening. "I'm starting to feel that the organization makes sense as an organization. We speak with a single voice. We have divided the roles appropriately.

"I think we understand our business better in some ways than we have in the past. So, that makes it a much more enjoyable experience for me. It's fundamentally, and will always be in the end, a privilege. Let's face it, it's the Browns."

Lerner said losing LeCharles Bentley for the season because of a torn patellar tendon was "heartbreaking," but he is convinced the Browns will still have a good season in 2006.

"The good news there - first of all, we have another Clevelander (Bob Hallen) to back him up," Lerner said. "That's the first good news. The second good news is that unlike previous seasons, we have a wealth of players around here. They hold our interest and are difference makers that we recruited. Some of whom are from Cleveland like (WR) Joe Jurevicius, some of whom are promising rookies.

"We have free agency from last year coming back. We have free agency from this season that is pretty exciting. We have draft picks that seem to be in good health and they are showing up. I think it mitigates the impact of losing LeCharles. It hurts. It's very frustrating. I think there has been a lot of poise on the part of the GM and definitely on the part of the Head Coach. I think we are going to be okay."

Lerner is very excited about the prospect of Charlie Frye playing well.

"I think he's an inspired athlete," Lerner said. "I think it would be amazing if it plays out well. He's a great person to be around. He s the total package. I hope he goes out and wins games. I hope it comes true for him. I get the sense he's more relaxed. He knows it's his team. His leadership instincts are coming out."

One thing Lerner would not do is name a record he thinks the Browns should finish with. Despite the enthusiasm shared by fans, most national writers believe the Browns will finish under .500 again. Asked about finishing 8-8, Lerner said:

"It's better than 6-10. I just don't think it's respectful to the head coach or to Phil. I think that there is a point where I receded back into having the same standing as the guy going to the game.

"If I sit around and start talking about numbers, it creates an odd dynamic. I just don't think it's appropriate or right."

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