Seeing through Savage

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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:

1. New York Giants: If Plaxico Burress beats his weapons possession charges, will New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg show up at the Giants' facility and give him a beatdown?

2. Tennessee Titans: I know it's unlikely to happen this season, but how dangerous could Vince Young be in the "Wildcat" offense?

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Does any elite NFL player have a lower profile than James Harrison?

4. Dallas Cowboys: If Tony Romo is voted the NFL's MVP, shouldn't he pay a commission to Brad Johnson for underscoring his value?

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Is it fair to say the Bucs' defenders weren't buying the Drew Brees for MVP hype?

6. Carolina Panthers: How unbelievably macho is Steve Smith?

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?

9. Minnesota Vikings: With apologies to Brian Urlacher, Charles Woodson and Pat and Kevin Williams, is Jared Allen now the NFC North's most dominant defensive player?

10. Denver Broncos: If Peyton Hillis ends up finishing his rookie season with more rushing yards than fellow Arkansas alums Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, will Mel Kiper Jr.'s head explode?

11. New York Jets: Who's more touchy in the face of criticism – Eric Mangini or Jets fans who read "32 Questions"?

12. Atlanta Falcons: Is any NFL position coach doing a better job than Paul Boudreau is with the Falcons' offensive line?

13. New England Patriots: When confronted with anything resembling adversity – bad weather, physical defenders, sore legs – is there any star player who disappears more predictably than Randy Moss?

14. Washington Redskins: Why are they so lifeless in their biggest games?

15. Arizona Cardinals: On Sunday in Glendale, will they party like it's 1975?

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?

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Wouldn't it be cool if Donovan McNabb stayed hot and led this maddeningly inconsistent team into the playoffs?

19. New Orleans Saints: Are they the most entertaining last-place team in recent NFL history?

20. Green Bay Packers: Hey, you Favre-o-philes who insist Aaron Rodgers is the problem – are you actually watching the games?

21. Buffalo Bills: Given the way Rian Lindell struggled Sunday, is there any chance the Bills will return home from Toronto with an "idiot kicker" in tow?

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?

24. San Diego Chargers: Has any NFL player fallen off more precipitously in '08 than Antonio Cromartie?

25. San Francisco 49ers: If Mike Singletary and Shaun Hill had been in their current positions at the start of the season, could this team actually be competing for a division title?

26. Cleveland Browns: After all that drama over which quarterback to play, are you ready for a month's worth of Ken Dorsey?

27. Oakland Raiders: Hey, Raider Nation – did you enjoy the grilled Seabass that Tom Cable served up Sunday?

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.?

29. Seattle Seahawks: Has any region's sports fans ever endured a more miserable fall?

30. Cincinnati Bengals: After owner Mike Brown hinted that head coach Marvin Lewis would return in 2009, how bummed was Marvin Lewis?

31. St. Louis Rams: Wouldn't this be a good time to take a look at Brock Berlin?

32. Detroit Lions: Is this the worst team ever?