Cleveland Browns and Job Cuts

I was able to hit the concrete this morning at 5 a.m. for five miles. Good run — with the temperature about 18 degress and no wind. And I figured I better get out in the real world this morning because I’m heading to DC tomorrow morning. Wait, that didn’t come out exactly right. I’m flying to the nation’s capital for business — weather permitting. But no matter how much of a hassle that becomes because of the likely snow in NE Ohio tonight and tomorrow, at least I have some business to attend to these days. Many don’t.

Take yesterday as a example. One announcement of a large corporation cutting jobs after another: Caterpillar, Sprint, Pfizer, IBM, Texas Instruments and so on.  In one day more than 50,000 jobs had evaporated into the black hole what has already swallowed several million more. And Business Week opines that we may be far from the end. Note to the feds and the economic bailout gurus: Couldn’t someone have seen this coming and taken steps a year or so ago to avoid this train wreck?

Yet while running this morning I wasn’t thinking about the big dogs — the Microsofts and so on — but rather about the Cleveland Browns.

Patrick McManamon provided some perspective on the management of the Browns in his Akron Beacon Journal column Sunday, “Layoffs reveal priorities.” McManamon reports that the Browns fired 12 or so administrative employees last week at the same time they were negotiating to hire a new general manager and writing checks totalling around $20 million to pay off the defunct GM and coach. From a financial standpoint, you have to wonder how the salaries and benefits of those 12 employees could make much of a difference.

But that’s really not the point of McManamon’s column — or the reality of how the Browns and many other businesses operate. It’s about management. And the word to describe it: inept. Here’s from the ABJ:

Yes, Randy Lerner deserves the right to run his team as he wishes.

Yes, many other businesses are facing cutbacks.

No, I do not have all the financial details.

But these moves speak to judgment and to leadership and to priorities. And they speak to decisions. In a business in which players are paid what they are and coaches make what they do, it boggles the mind to think that people making $50,000 or $60,000 can have any effect on the bottom line.

The people who were fired by the Browns this past week are our neighbors and friends and, in some cases, our families.

They worked for the Browns because it was a job, and also because it was the Browns and the orange helmet stood for something. At least it used to.

These are real people with babies on the way and young children and children in college. They came to work Wednesday and were blindsided, then told they had 10 minutes to clean out their desks.

Wow. “They had 10 minutes to clean out their desks.” Browns management let Romeo Crennel twist on the job hook for half a season. Not sure which is the more humane human resources exit strategy. I digress.

So the point of all this is that football is a business. I don’t know about Microsoft and the rest of the corporate titans. Do they really need to slash these many jobs? Impossible for an outsider to tell. But you hope management at those companies is getting it right because it sure affects a lot of people and their families. Something tells me that the Browns, as usual, got it wrong. And at a minimum if the “10 minutes and you’re out of here is true” they didn’t show much class for an organization that gets so much support from the community.

Saying all that — come Sunday I’ll be sitting in front of the TV cheering for the Steelers. The Steelers as a business are better managed than the Browns and most NFL teams. (Probably better than most of the titans of business as well.) That’s why they will be trying for a league-leading sixth Super Bowl title Sunday.

Next week maybe I’ll start cheering again for Ford, GM, Microsoft, IBM and so on.

Hey, it’s all about business.

And one more thing. Here’s a shout-out to Tania Lundreen, the senior VP of sales at Ty Inc. That’s the company that is making and selling the “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls that appear to resemble the Obama girls. And when Mrs. O said she wasn’t so happy about that, Lundreen demurred. She told CNN that Sasha and Malia were beautiful names — but the dolls weren’t meant to represent the first daughters.

Liar, liar pants on fire.

Oh well.  From the perspective of PR people, we should be be thrilled that the world is populated by sales and marketing executives. Because of them we’ll never be on the lowest rung of the public opinion ladder.

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2 responses to “Cleveland Browns and Job Cuts

  1. I can’t bring myself to root for the Steelers, no matter what the circumstances, but I’m afraid you’re right about my Brownies. McManamon’s article is depressing to read for Brown’s fans, but his articles are generally that way, and he’s been right about most of what he’s said in the past year.

    Hopefully the firing of a media relations director and a new initiative to hide info from the media doesn’t end up hurting the Browns even more. Although I wouldn’t recommend this for the “big dogs,” I think a little time out of the lime-light may help the “bad dawgs” reassemble and prepare for next season.

    Until Cleveland can form a solid organization all the way around we’ll continue to struggle against teams like Pittsburgh, who, as you said, are a better managed business.

    In the meantime, I;m not breaking any ties with the orange helmets, or anyone playing against black and gold… Go Cardinals!

  2. Chris,

    How can you not be a Steelers fan? I’m weeping in my Terrible Towel 🙂

    And your point is a good one. First step for Cleveland is to form a solid organization all the way around. I really believe that has been the secret to the success the Steelers have had. And it’s true of most successful businesses as well.

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