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Cleveland Browns

Lerner to interview Mangini, Pioli

By Marla Ridenour Published: December 30, 2008

Browns owner Randy Lerner will interview fired Jets coach Eric Mangini and New England vice president for player personnel Scott Pioli in the next 24 hours, a league source said Tuesday afternoon.

Both Mangini and Pioli began their NFL careers in Cleveland under coach Bill Belichick. Mangini started as a ballboy and public relations intern in 1994 and became a coaches assistant in 1995. Pioli broke in as a pro personnel assistant in 1992 and moved with the team to Baltimore as director of pro personnel in 1996.

An Associated Press report said Lerner was interviewing Mangini in the New York area Tuesday. A source said Pioli's interview would also likely be conducted on the East Coast, since Pioli is familiar with Cleveland and the Browns' Berea headquarters.

The nature of Pioli's and Mangini's relationship is unknown after Mangini blew the whistle on Belichick's taping of defensive signals in the 2007 ''Spygate'' controversy. If they formed a team, it could mean ex-Browns coach Romeo Crennel could stay on as defensive coordinator, an option Lerner discussed with him Monday.

When he met with the media on Monday after firing Crennel and general manager Phil Savage, Lerner's top priority seemed to be filling the general manager position. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher rebuffed Lerner's overture in a Saturday night meeting in New York. Reports say Cowher may talk with the Jets about replacing Mangini.

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