Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 3/27/12
Browns owner Randy Lerner is not at the NFLs annual meetings in Palm Beach this week. Whoop-dee-do. That technical term that really sums up what Lerners absence is worth. Because the Browns are well represented. They have a President in attendance, a Vice President, a General Manager and a coach. The coach attends the coaches meetings, the GM attends the GM meetings, the VP attends the business meetings and the president attends the executive meetings. Pretty amazing how that works. That should be enough. If the owner is absolutely, terribly needed on top of that, then the right guys might not be in those jobs. Its interesting what becomes the chatter around town as it relates to the Browns. Some of it is warranted. Not completing a trade for the ability to draft a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback? Worth the chatter. Handing off to the backup tight end playing fullback? Worth it. Losing all those games? Worth it. The owner not being at the meetings? Not worth it. Because really it doesnt matter. First, nobody really knows why Lerner is not present. He could have a family issue, could be taking care of his kids, could be ill, could be spending time in Afghanistan with U.S. soldiers, something he does from time to time without anyone really knowing about it. Second, it really doesnt matter if Lerner is not there. Browns Stadium will not fall down, and the Browns will not miss out on any free agent theyre targeting. At least they wont miss because of his absence. Guys come and go at these meetings. Other owners are not present this year Tennessees Bud Adams is missing and nobody is screaming in any honky-tonks in Nashville. Bill Parcells skipped a bunch of meetings when he was a coach. Very few aside from the media that wanted to speak with Parcells cared. When Eddie DeBartolo grew weary of attending the meetings he made his attorney the team president and told him he would represent the 49ers. Guy by the name of Carmen Policy. A few years back, the meetings were held in Maui (the NFL never has an annual meeting in Schenectady). A few coaches decided that was too far to fly, so they stayed home. So did owners. Lerner attended those meetings, just as hes attended others. But he didnt attend this years. And he didnt because he hired Mike Holmgren to be the team president. As the team president, he represents the Browns at these kind of functions. Its part of the job description. It almost seems as if folks making an issue of Lerners absence are looking for something. There are plenty of reasons to be critical of the Browns, plenty of real issues (like who the heck is the right tackle and what the heck is with the running backs and how long will these dismal losing seasons continue). But Lerner letting his president (Holmgren) and Vice President (Bryan Weidmeier) and GM (Tom Heckert) and coach (Pat Shurmur) represent the team for three days in Florida is not an issue. Its funny. When Art Modell owned the Browns people accused him of meddling too much. Hes not a football guy, went the claim. Things got louder as it related to David Modell, the son. Lerner grew up in that environment, and when his father Al bought the team the son stayed out of things. When his father died, the team suddenly went to the son. He decided he did not want to meddle, that he would hire people to do a job and let them do it. And hes done just that. In fact, hes bent over backward at times not to meddle, to the point it could be advocated he bends over backward too far. But thats his style. Now hes criticized for not being involved. How is the guy supposed to win? If the right people are doing the job the right way, Lerners approach works and the owner looks smart. If they dont do it right, the owner suddenly is disconnected and uninvolved. Lerner is neither. He is connected closely to Holmgren and he is involved. Hes just not public about it. So hes not in Palm Beach, sitting in ballrooms and staring up at the naked cherubs and nymphs painted on the ceiling of some of the ballrooms at The Breakers Hotel. Holmgren ought to be able to tear himself away from the nymphs long enough to cast an intelligent vote on issues of great importance. Like the tuck rule Its OK Lerners not there. It really is.
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