If you read Tony Grossi's article in this morning's Plain Dealer, you'll find a relatively straightforward portrayal of the turmoil surrounding the Browns and Coach Romeo Crennel. That story comes with a relatively tame headline as well--"Drama, questions build with Edwards, Crennel." About the only thing noteworthy in the story is Grossi's continuation of the Cleveland print media's tradition of damning Crennel with faint praise ("To his credit, Crennel...maintained his composure and class, as usual, during another day of uncomfortable interrogation about his job status.").
However, The Plain Dealer is pushing the "Crennel is on his way out" story line a lot harder on the Internet. The headline on the front page of its website this morning features a photo of Romeo Crennel along with the headline "Days Numbered?" (Update: not anymore. You'll have to trust me on this one.) It links not to Tony Grossi's article in this morning's paper, but to his podcast from yesterday morning. You should definitely listen to that podcast, because it is pretty explosive. In it, Grossi says a number of things, including:
- One of the biggest reasons he thinks Crennel is on the way out is that WTAM, the radio mouthpiece of the Browns, is starting to talk about his ouster. I think Tony Grossi is the first guy in the media to openly acknowledge what fans have long known--WTAM and its hosts are little more than spokespeople for the Cleveland Browns' front office.
- Grossi insists that Jim Tressel is interested in the Browns job (something I personally can't imagine to be true), and is definitely "on the radar screen."
- Business issues are factoring into the coaching decision. Grossi says there were suite cancellations after Sunday's fiasco, and that the Browns feel a need to bring in a coach of Tressel's stature in order to regain the support of the fans and the business community.
- Crennel has to win at least three of the last five games in order to keep his job.
As everybody knows, nobody managed to get under Art Modell's skin quite like Tony Grossi did. If I recall correctly, the last time that Grossi was ahead of the curve on a coaching change, it involved Bud Carson. Grossi reported just prior to the Browns v. Broncos regular season game in 1990 that Carson's job was on the line. The Browns, and Modell in particular, went nuts, alleging that Grossi never checked his facts with them before running the story. I think that Grossi ended up being removed from the Browns beat for a while as a result of that mess.
The Browns beat the Broncos that week, and Bud lived on, only to be fired a few weeks later, just as Grossi said he would be.
I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Grossi was set up by the Browns back then, and I'm sure that left him with a lingering distrust of the team's front office. Given the fact that this version of the front office has already shown a penchant for intrigue (e.g., the Collins coup and the Carthon resigfiring), that distrust is probably well placed. So, Grossi's different approaches to this story in print and online may be pretty shrewd -- he gets the real story out online, relies on idiots like me to write crap like this pointing you in the direction of his podcast, and covers his butt with the powers that be by softpeddling it in print.