Time for Lerner to step up

The Kellen Winslow debacle now becomes a big test for Randy Lerner. Mr. Lerner has won some respect lately with the fans for finally bringing in professionals like Phil Savage and Romeo Crennell to run the football operations, but the fans still remember Lerner’s boneheaded decision to let Butch Davis quit on the team and still pocket the remaining $12 million on his contract. Then, Lerner goes and raises ticket prices in the offseason following six years of pathetic performances on the field.

With this backdrop, Lerner needs to make some tough decisions on Winslow. Fans demanding his release are not thinking straight, but that sentiment demonstrates the intense frustration felt by Cleveland fans. There needs to be consequences for Winslow’s irresponsible behavior. The fans will settle for nothing less. Further, if the Browns want to give Winslow the opportunity to earn back some of the bonus money, it has to be tied to a commitment by Winslow to extend his contract if he comes back healthy. Lerner needs to be tough but fair. If he handles this well, he’ll build temendous good will in the community. If he blows it by letting Winslow off the hook like he did with Butch Davis, he risks losing the respect of the fans for years to come.

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