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Cleveland Browns

Fans meet with Lerner for 2 hours

By Marla Ridenour Published: November 3, 2009

Longtime season ticket holders Mike Randall of Massillon and Tony Schafer of Sandusky met with Browns owner Randy Lerner for nearly two hours in Lerner's office Tuesday.

Randall and Schafer, aka ''Dawg Pound Mike'' and ''Mobile Dawg'' are organizing a protest for the Browns' next home game, Nov. 16 against the Baltimore Ravens. They are encouraging fans not to go to their seats until after kickoff to voice their displeasure with the state of the franchise and Lerner's unwillingness to address them on camera.

Randall and Schafer said they will not cancel the boycott unless Lerner speaks publicly and Schafer put the odds of that happening at ''20 percent.''

The meeting was set up before general manager George Kokinis was relieved of his duties Monday. Lerner has not spoken about what led to the ouster of Kokinis, hired on Jan. 23.

Randall and Schafer came with an agenda packet that had a photo of Randall and Schafer on the cover giving a football to a girl in Chicago. Randall said he got the ball from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan before Sunday's game at Soldier Field.

Randall said Lerner told them he was ticked off about the 1-7 Browns and said, '''I'm going to get this right. If there's somebody else better, I'm going to spend the money and try to get this fixed for the fans.'''

The pair also came with ideas and addressed issues at the stadium like the lack of entertainment, the lack of championship banners and retired numbers and the policy of having fans ejected for excessive standing. Randall said Lerner seemed shocked by the latter.

''I told him for the home opener next year I wanted the championship banners up, the retired numbers up and I want this place to rock,'' Randall said. ''Get the Michael Stanley Band to play 'Here We Go Again.' We fought for this history, let's display this history. I don't care if the last championship was in 1964, put it up there.

''I want the crowd roaring. There's all this energy and we lack it. He said, 'I'm on it, I hear you.'''

Randall said vice president of communications Bill Bonsiewicz and consultant Bernie Kosar also joined them for a few minutes. Randall, who works in sports marketing, said he offered to come to work for the Browns to improve the fan experience at the stadium.

For Randall, the highlight of the meeting may have been when he and Schafer told Lerner, ''There's nothing more important than seeing you hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the air.''

''He smiled liked I'd never seen,'' Randall said, adding that he'd spoken to Lerner seven times, including Sunday at Chicago. ''He said, 'I'd put it right up in the middle for all of us to enjoy. It would be for everyone.'''

Schafer said, '''He said he wanted the whole city of Cleveland to hold that trophy, not himself. He said he'd like the whole city to own the Browns, like in Green Bay. He said, 'I know what it is right now, but I'm going to get it right.'

''He feels he owes it to the city of Cleveland. I believe in him and I trust in him.''


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