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Jim Brown: ‘There’s always a question mark when your owner is in England’

He’s back in the limelight again. Former Browns legend Jim Brown has been all over the news this offseason in connection to his former club, most recently because of his criticism of Trent Richardson’s “average” abilities. Now, it’s all about owner Randy Lerner. Roll the tape from NFL.com:

“I think that the owner, and I have to be very candid with you, is trying to turn all the power over to someone else. I don’t think that’s possible,” Brown said. “I think that the owner is ultimately going to be the leader and I think until Randy takes that position, it’s going to be difficult.

“Holmgren is a fine executive, but he is not the owner, and I think the players know that. So I think the players feel that they don’t have that top dog sitting there in that office so they can feel that they have great leadership from the top. There’s always a question mark when your owner is in England.”

There’s been a sharp divide with Brown and the team’s front office for years, but this just got way more heated. Oh, and he also added a few more words to his comments about Richardson, saying that he will apologize if he’s wrong in the end. And, in other non-football news related to Brown, he also recently became part-owner of Major League Lacrosse’s Long Island Lizards. Hopefully he operates as that face of the franchise on location, too.

[Related: Jim Brown is still talking about Trent Richardson and Mike Holmgren]

  • Jim Brown needs to STFU as far as I’m concerned. This entire city is to obsessed with the glory days of Jim Brown, ’90’s Tribe and everything else. Seems like people want to insist that Jim Brown’s opinion on the ownership or T-Rich has credibility based on the fact that “He’s the best ever!”
    Well, ask Charlotte how well that works.

  • “So I think the players feel that they don’t have that top dog sitting there in that office so they can feel that they have great leadership from the top.”-

    I am confused, Jim Brown wants Hanford Dixon to sit in Randy’s office?

  • Humboldt

    “There’s always a question mark when your owner is in England.”

    And with that, Jim Brown has deftly captured the frustrations and concerns felt by so many Browns fans. 

    I challenge anyone to question the logic of that claim.

  • TwelveInchFinch

    Actually most people Ive encountered have felt that JIm Brown needs to be quiet and every article Ive read about this subject has implied the same thing.

  • Humboldt

    Why does Jim Brown have an obligation to be quiet? I appreciate that he still clearly feels affinity with the franchise and is concerned about its direction. He is surely a complicated, egotistical figure, but his observations have been mostly pointed and accurate.  He most certainly has a right to speak to the media – you wouldn’t deny him that, would you?

    A democracy needs honest people to keep the powerful in check, whether we’re talking about Wall St or Lou Groza Blvd. I don’t always agree w/ Brown, but I appreciate his candor and willingness to face up the elites in the Browns organization.

  • DrewskiC

    Could you explain how this causes you frustration?? As if the local presence of an owner would magically turn this team around. Right.

    Like most football team owners, Lerner is a not a professional football manager or strategist. However, unlike most owners, Lerner has acknowledged this fact, hiring someone who does have experience to fill his shoes. I find this strategy admirable. I’d much rather have a person with football experience (like Holmgren, though who knows if he was the right pick) running the day-to-day operations of this team than some billionaire business executive.

    That aside, the notion that he is “in England” is vague and baseless. He has a home here and his family is here – his son goes to St. Ignatius.

  • Because no organization that has had it’s ownership remotely based has ever succeeded.
    That’s probably why Anheuser-Busch shut down a year after being acquired by InBev.

  • I guess more what I meant was questioning why every local media organization continues to report this and it is being discussed.

  • Humboldt

    Lerner’s absence causes frustration because it is perceived as an abdication of responsibility, especially in the face of continued failure in Cleveland. It also shows a division of loyalties between the Browns and his soccer team. This is basic tribalism. It doesn’t have to be 100% rational to be a valid and internally logical perception in the fan base. I appreciate Jim Brown giving voice to it and presume that many/most fans would agree.

    As for how much Lerner’s presence would “turn the team around”, that is a more difficult question to answer. If I felt he had the skillset and desire to be an effective leader of an organization I might argue that it would, but I’m not convinced this is the case. But even so, what Jim Brown is arguing is the basic point that any organization is better off having an alpha figurehead who is visibly present and involved rather than a proxy like Holmgren.

    This debate always devolves into the straw man argument: “well, would you prefer Lerner or Al Davis/Daniel Snyder” as if we only had a choice between those two extremes. Clearly, what is optimal is a leader who is present and efficacious while not overbearing – someone more like an Irsay or a Rooney. Lerner is clearly falling way short of those benchmarks until proven otherwise.

  • Humboldt

    The media also have a responsibility to keep the elite in check, especially as concerns an entity like the Browns that literally is a PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE (!) for Clevelanders. They also understand that Jim Brown is a powerful figurehead for the organization and that stories featuring his reflections will be impactful (and get page views, sure).

    Listen, if Brown starts calling Mary Kay and expounding on TS Elliot’s oeuvre or the virtues of unicorns over chimeras it might be cause for concern, but right now his critique is precisely aimed and pitch perfect, and thus entirely credible as a news story.

  • Jeffp

    Sorry… When did AB shut down? I live in St Louis and it’s clearly still here. Besides which many companies are multinational and thrive.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Brown doesn’t have to be quiet anymore then the rest of us and given his connection to the team and it’s history I don’t blame him for speaking his mind.  That being said Brown speaking his mind is a double edged sword.  He reminds me of the older relative who says what they think regardless.  Sometimes you agree and sometimes you cringe.

    As far as his latest comments go I can see what he’s saying.  Personally I’m not a fan of Randy Lerner I don’t think he’s done much of anything right but it’s his team he can run it into the toilet for all I care.  The days where I let a Cleveland professional sports team rule my life have long been over.  If they want to run the Browns as a business I’ll be a customer when I see a product I like until then I’ll take my business elsewhere.  Have a jolly good day Lerner ol’ chap!

  • Chuck

    I think if Jim Brown had a genuine concern for the Browns he would have piped up long before Mike Holmgren stepped in and relieved him of his duties. All he is doing is being a petulant child lashing out at his former employer because he didn’t like the way he was let go. Was he wronged? Maybe. But does that mean that he has to bash the Browns at every given opportunity? No. 

  • JVal

    Jim Brown hasn’t always been right. Take a look at his so called hack acting career. The Browns have enough problems as it is and they don’t need a guy throwing grenades at them from the outside. He should be grateful the Browns kept him on the payroll all those years.

  • Humboldt

    I think we’re all amazed that you know with such certainty that Jim Brown’s concern for the Browns isn’t genuine.

    By reducing him to a “petulant child” you are committing classic ad hominem attack and not dealing at all with the substance of his critique.

  • Granting Jim Brown the idea that Lerner being in London with his other huge investment somehow shows the player that there is weak leadership (which to me is a stretch, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument) – this somehow makes Greg Little drop passes, Colt McCoy throw balls behind receivers, Pat Shurmr forget who is in at FB, and Sheldon Brown get torched by a WR?

  • TNB

    Thats sarcasm dude. Welcome to the internet

  • Humboldt

    This is reductio ad absurdum: no one is claiming that Randy Lerner’s absence directly manifests as dropped passes, interceptions, etc.

    The argument is more nuanced. For instance, Lerner’s split responsibilities have made him eager to over-assign power within his organization to 1-2 people. This has led to such debacles as:

    1. The Phil Savage / John Collins brouhaha that created organizational instability
    2. The Mangini / Kokinis 2009 draft and subsequent imbalance of power
    3. The Mike Holmgren “czar” era which has produced two disjointed 5-11 seasons and plausible arguments about cronyism (i.e. Shurmur’s uncle, Bob Lamont, etc)

    Good organizations with strong and consistent leadership avoid these types of problems, and certainly don’t experience them multiple times in a decade like we do. The instability they create can be paralyzing, as we have seen.

    Believe me, I am hoping Lerner’s last gamble with Holmgren works out. If it doesn’t I don’t know where the franchise goes from there…

  • dick

    who  does brown think he is al sharpton of the nfl your bad for the browns now

  • bossman09

    Simple… Lerner lives in cleveland and his son goes to high school in cleveland.  He visits england, but he LIVES IN CLEVELAND.  Jim Brown apparently doesn’t read the news any more about the Browns.  Not really sure he can comment on something when he so ignorant.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    The problem I have isn’t the claim so much as the timing. Harder to take him seriously when he didn’t he bring it up until after the paychecks stopped rolling in.

  • DawgPile

    Man Humboldt you should join a debate team with all of your ad hominem and absurdum’s (Latin, really? This is a football blog) 

    One thing though criticizing the old “straw man”  at the beginning of a paragraph and then using one before you end the same thought doesn’t work for me…carry on.

  • TwelveInchFinch

    So you’re going to ignore the fact that Jim Brown has always been a prick?  No one’s saying his critique of the Browns isnt necessarily correct but coming from him one cant help but question his motives after his very public spat with Holmgren and the Browns.  Just because someone is a great athlete doesnt mean they should have a mic shoved in their face regularly.