Seeing through Savage
Unless you are young, self-employed or incredibly blessed, you’ve probably had a boss like Browns general manager Phil Savage.
You know, a guy who cares only about his own hide, perpetually blames organizational underperformance on his employees and acts like everything he does is above reproach.
Oh, and in this case, a GM who goes on the radio the day before Thanksgiving to undercut the head coach he hired in 2005 and signed to a two-year extension last January.
In other words: A real horse’s ass.
After the Browns went a surprising 10-6 in 2007 and narrowly missed the playoffs, Savage bought into the considerable hype that his team was on the verge of Super Bowl contention. When Cleveland (4-8) crash-landed in 2008, Savage self-servingly concluded that poor coaching was to blame.
He may be right, at least partially, but his willingness to make a conspicuous scapegoat out of head coach Romeo Crennel – in an obvious attempt to convince owner Randy Lerner not to fire him – was completely shameless.
On the night before Thanksgiving, during his weekly appearance on Cleveland radio station WTAM, Savage carved up his coach like a turkey just out of the oven.
Said Savage: “I’ve said it on this program a number of times. Hey, my responsibility is the 53-man roster, and then it’s Romeo and the rest of the coaching staff’s decision how to utilize the 45 players that are dressed on Sunday. Who starts. Who plays. When they’re gonna play. How they’re gonna be utilized. If I’m going to get involved in those decisions, then I may as well put a headset on and double my salary.”
Right, Phil – you’re a genius when it comes to acquiring talent, and the only thing that can keep your collection of future Hall of Famers from succeeding on Sundays is a misguided coach who messes up your masterpiece.
Never mind that this is the same person of whom you said at the news conference announcing his hiring, “Romeo Crennel represents everything that is great about the game of football. We are extremely proud and honored to make him the next head coach.”
It’s also the same man you praised 10 months ago, upon announcing his contract extension: “Romeo has proven that he can be a winning NFL head coach, and he has the respect of the players and of the entire organization.”
And, amazingly, it’s the same loyal employee who went out of his way to defend you after one of the most unprofessional episodes in NFL front-office history: The email reply you fired off to a critical fan after the Browns’ Nov. 17 victory over the Bills which read, “Go root for Buffalo – f#@* you – ”
Asked about the email by reporters, Crennel said, “We all get frustrated at times … [but] sometimes things slip out … It’s unfortunate that it slipped out.”
Even more unfortunate is the fact that Savage, based on Lerner’s most recent comments, seems likely to keep his job, meaning that in a few weeks he’ll get to spearhead the hiring of a new coach.
But I’d be much happier if Lerner halved Savage’s salary and told him to put on a headset – and, if he doesn’t like it, to go root for Buffalo.
Now for our weekly penthouse-to-outhouse trip through the NFL, beginning with the team whose only defeat came to – you guessed it – The Phil Savage All-Stars:
7. Indianapolis Colts: When all is said and done, will this be among the finest single-season coaching efforts of Tony Dungy’s stellar career?
8. Baltimore Ravens: As big a disaster as Cam Cameron was as a head coach, can we all concede that he’s a hell of an offensive coordinator?
12. Atlanta Falcons: Is any NFL position coach doing a better job than Paul Boudreau is with the Falcons’ offensive line?
14. Washington Redskins: Why are they so lifeless in their biggest games?
16. Miami Dolphins: If I tell you this team has a very good chance of being AFC East champs, will you call me crazy?
17. Chicago Bears: If you can’t score on four plays from the 1-yard line with first place on the line, were you ever really a contender?
19. New Orleans Saints: Are they the most entertaining last-place team in recent NFL history?
22. Houston Texans: Does any team look more promising once the games cease to become meaningful?
23. Jacksonville Jaguars: What looked more ridiculous Monday night – the Jags’ offense or Jack Del Rio’s teal-tie-and-logo-laden-leather-jacket sideline ensemble?
28. Kansas City Chiefs: How crazy is it that since Oct. 21, 2007, the Chiefs have won more games in Oakland than they have in K.C.?
32. Detroit Lions: Is this the worst team ever?