In the days leading up to the Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the writing was on the wall for former Browns general manager Phil Savage. Communication between he and the owner was changing, and an ominous sign was that Savage was not part of the search party for the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Not that Savage wanted to be part of the search - he and Romeo Crennel were viewed as a team, a tag-team of sorts. They were, as Savage often said, attached at the hip. Their fate was entertwined during what quickly became an embarrassing season for the Cleveland Browns on the field, as well as the organization as a whole due to the criticism they received for off-the-field issues.
Savage knew late in the week that he was likely to be relieved of his duties. Only the timing was in question. Savage was seemed destined to be relieved of his duties following the game in Pittsburgh, according to a member of his staff.
This was is indeed the case following a negotiation process to end his employment with the team.
In the past few weeks, the tension of losing combined with the grind of finding a way to win football games and scout players at the collegiate level at the same time brought a critical focus on the inner-workings of the organization. The difficult season exposed issues which had been known for some time but pushed under the carpet due to a magical 2007 season.
Savage's fondness for being on the road scouting, and not being available as a result, once again became an issue to those within the floundering team. The Browns front office and organization floated along seperately in many cases, with the front office, players, coaches and media relations people on different pages far too often.
To almost a man within this Browns locker room, there are very few tears being shed. Savage did a solid job of alienating some within the core of this team - a facet of the 2008 season which Lerner watched closely.
There wasn't one specific incident that swayed the mind of team owner Randy Lerner in making a quick decision to relieve Savage of his duties. Lerner spent weeks evaluating and debating the options with his closest advisers - the same advisers that may ultimately become a greater issue for the hiring of the next general manager for this club.
Savage was fired because he was not a general manager. Rather, he is an excellent scout that was unable to fulfill the task of bringing the Cleveland Browns back to prominence. His greatest mistake may have been his undeniable backing of head coach Romeo Crennel following the 2005 and 2006 seasons, when Lerner himself was on the verge of firing the head coach.
At this time tomorrow, it is likely the dynamic duo will ride once again - this time out of the lives of the Cleveland Browns, as the search for a new general manager and head coach picks up steam.