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Fed-up Cleveland Browns fan starts on-line petition asking owner Randy Lerner to sell team
Browns fans are considered among the NFL's most passionate, but the team’s uninspired 0-3 start after a decade of disappointment is trying their patience, to put it mildly.
Late in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ 34-3 thumping at Baltimore last Sunday, Corey Recko turned off the television and fired up his computer.
"At the two-minute warning," said the 34-year-old Lakewood writer and lifetime Browns fan, "I’d just had it."
Up to here in football frustration, Recko posted an online call for fans to sign a "Randy Lerner Must Sell the Cleveland Browns" petition on gopetition.com.
randy-lerner-eric-mangini.jpgThomas Ondrey, The Plain DealerWith just two winning seasons since 1999 under the ownership of the Lerner family, frustrated fans are asking Randy Lerner, left, here talking to coach Eric Mangini, to sell the team in hopes that a new owner would lead to more success on the field. "The once proud franchise in Cleveland has not been competitive under the ownership of Randolph (Randy) D. Lerner and is killing the strong fan support for the Browns," he wrote.
"Petition: We, the undersigned Cleveland Browns fans, ask Randy Lerner to do what is in the best interest of the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland fans, and the city of Cleveland, and sell the Cleveland Browns. The product on the field is unacceptable."
Within 24 hours, the petition had topped 700 signatures from Browns fans around the country. By early Tuesday evening, there were more than 1,200.
Some added comments, taking aim at the owner’s interest in a successful English pro soccer franchise and what appears to be a hands-off, indifferent approach to the Browns, at least publicly. Lerner took over the team when his father, Al, died in 2002.
"Sell the team to a Clevelander who cares about the fans, and focus on your soccor (sic) team please," one wrote.
"The complete mismanagement of the QB situation is all I needed to see. This is unacceptable from a passionate fan base. Sell our Browns and cheer for your true team Aston Villa," wrote another.
"We need a more involved, football-savvy owner," added another.
Because losing has been a pattern for all but two of the 11 seasons since the Browns returned in ’99, so has posting online petitions, calling for a coaching change.
An online call to "Fire Butch Davis and (then-offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians" in 2003 was followed by two "Fire Butch Davis" petitions in 2004 and a "Fire Romeo Crennel" petition last fall.
This time, frustrated Browns fans are bypassing the head coach, venting about the man who writes the checks.
"You can only change the quarterback and coach so many times," said Scott Bauchmoyer, a fan from Fairview Park who signed the petition. "If this was a company, you’d look to the CEO."
Recko wasn’t sure what he expected his petition to accomplish. He attended the team’s opening loss to Minnesota and has tickets for the Pittsburgh game in December, but may not even bother.
"They’re not even competitive," he said. "These Browns games are unwatchable."