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Monday, November 2, 2009
With unhappy owner, something had to happen

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is very upset about his team's 1-7 start. So it was just a matter of time before he turned his feelings into action.

It appears general manager George Kokinis is the one who took the fall.

Reports out of Cleveland state Kokinis was escorted out of the team's training facility Monday. The natural interpretation is Kokinis was relieved of his duties after less than a year on the job. The Browns are not confirming the reports.

[Update: The Browns confirmed in a statement Kokinis is no longer "actively involved" with the team but deny reports he was escorted out of the facility.]

But Cleveland's owner had been hinting at such a move in recent weeks.

Lerner is so distraught that the usually mild-mannered owner told reporters that he wants to bring in someone "credible" to run the Browns. This was a not-so-subtle shot at head coach Eric Mangini and Kokinis from an owner who usually avoids the media.

In the past two weeks, Lerner has fired a GM, fired one of Mangini's assistants and hired former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar to serve as a consultant. This is as hands-on as Lerner has been with his franchise in quite some time.

Kokinis didn't have nearly as much power as his title states, as he worked through Mangini on all the team's decisions. Now that Mangini's hand-picked GM is out, it's clear some of his power has been stripped in the process.

Where the Browns take it from here is tough to say. Cleveland may act fast on hiring someone to run the football operations or wait until the offseason. The more people who are fired, the more Mangini's status also comes into question.

It will be an interesting next several months in Cleveland. The Browns are on a bye and will host the Baltimore Ravens (4-3) on Nov. 16.