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Join Date: Apr 2004
Browns a Mess
Cleveland's a mess since Butch took charge
BEREA -- Lal Heneghan, the Browns' chief contract negotiator since they reentered the National Football League in 1999, was fired abruptly yesterday, according to a team source.
No explanation was given and the club did not issue a statement. A source said ''no one thing'' led to Heneghan's dismissal.
Heneghan being shown the door is a continuation of a massive front-office shakeup. His name is not recognizable to most fans, but he nevertheless was a key component of the front office, and well respected around the league.
Since the end of the 2003 season:
- Ron Wolf, former general manager of the Green Bay Packers, was hired in late January as a consultant to coach Butch Davis. He was to be an extra set of eyes and another voice as the Browns prepared for free agency and the draft. Wolf ended up resigning last month, primarily because Davis basically acted as though Wolf was a non-factor.
- Carmen Policy, the Browns president and CEO since 1999, announced last month he would resign, effective May 1. He became invisible after his announcement.
Rumors of a rift between Policy and Davis were impossible to ignore, though neither party addressed them. Policy might have been embarrassed about the way Davis did not seek Wolf's advice after Policy coaxed Wolf out of retirement.
Wolf announced he was resigning within two weeks of Policy's announced resignation. In the same time frame, Kofi Bonner, the club's Chief Administrative Officer, announced his resignation. Bonner was handpicked by Policy in 1999.
In the biggest on the field move, Davis decided Tim Couch would no longer play quarterback for the Browns and instead signed Jeff Garcia in free agency. The Couch decision is regarded as another reason Policy left with five years remaining on a contract he signed last March. In February, Policy made a special trip to visit Couch in Florida to begin diplomatic talks that would lead to Couch taking a contract reduction to remain the Browns quarterback. Policy left Florida convinced Couch's contract issue would be resolved.
Davis' decision to can Heneghan came as a surprise to those outside the Berea training complex. The move was made with training camp only a little more than two months away. Normally, Heneghan would begin negotiations with the Browns' draft picks in the next five or six weeks.
Heneghan left his office soon after being fired and could not be reached for comment. Davis was unavailable and out of town by 10:30 a.m., according to a Browns' media relations spokesman.
''I always thought Lal Heneghan was a professional,'' said one agent. ''I know I'm talking from the outside, but I think their organization is going to miss him.''
Heneghan will not be replaced. Instead, Trip McCracken, the club's salary cap coordinator, and Pete Garcia, the vice president of player personnel and football development, will absorb his duties. John Collins, Policy's replacement as team president, will handle the big contracts.