The Cleveland Browns front office purge is now complete with the announcement of the “stepping aside” of President Alec Scheiner, effective March 31, although he will stay on as a consultant for awhile.
Scheiner, who came to the Browns from the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, was conspicuous by his absence in the selection of coach Hue Jackson, as well as the formation of the new top of the organization, including Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry. In addition, Jimmy Haslam’s wife, Dee, has taken a prominent part in the organization. Scheiner is essentially gone, as is former General Manager Ray Farmer, and, of course, coach Mike Pettine.
Scheiner, who attempted to immerse himself into more of a role in the football operation, was mostly involved in the “fan experience” part of the organization. While he was instrumental in overseeing the renovation of First Energy Stadium, including obtaining money from the city and the county, he may be remembered for two decisions that have met mixed reaction from Browns fans in Northeast Ohio. Like many other out-of-towners who have come to work for the Browns, he always played to the heart strings of the “best fans in the NFL” and always sang their praises. Yet those two decisions make those claims questionable.
Not only did he change the identify of the brand, which basically had the same uniforms since the team was formed in 1946, he wound up with at least eight color combinations. When you consider teams like the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers, all old-school teams that have the same basic uniforms since the beginning, the Browns’ multitude of uniforms looks like a case of overkill. Scheiner also decided it would somehow be great for Northeast Ohio fans if the team moved its training camp to Columbus. Both decisions reek of nothing more than a money grab. Certainly, you could make a case, and he tried, that landmark teams like the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have had uniform changes over the years. And almost half of the NFL teams train away from their cities.
But, especially since the bad stretch of football since the franchise returned in 1999, Cleveland fans are a bit different than others around the country. They latch on to the history of the team from their fathers and grandfathers. Changing the uniforms so drastically, and moving the training camp, when so many fans have memories of Hiram College, Kent State University and Lakeland Community College, is a smack in the face to many of these fans.
Revisionist historians have forgotten what the fans went through, including appearances before the U.S. Congress, to get the NFL to let Cleveland keep the Browns name, colors and history after the move of the team to Baltimore following the 1995 season. This was an unprecedented move at the time. Think of that when you see the Indianapolis (Baltimore) Colts and Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals play.
There is no indication what Scheiner’s next place of employment will be, although I have been told he has always wanted to run an NBA team. Some people would say that LeBron James is already doing that.