Thirteen years. Six head coaches. Two winning seasons. No playoff wins.
That's the Lerner family legacy on the field.
Al Lerner's association with the Cleveland Browns dates back decades. To fans, he went from the guy you always saw then-owner Art Modell hug after wins to a villain, a facilitator of sorts when the franchise left town in 1995.
But Lerner became the Browns owner four years later, and most, it seemed was forgiven. He had big pockets, and brought along Carmen Policy, ostensibly the mind behind the 49ers dominance in the 1980s. Former star quarterback Bernie Kosar also was part of the group.
Even my father, whose cynicism was beginning to be passed on to his oldest son by turn of the century, said, "this is the way to go."
This "way" appears to have reached its conclusion with the Browns apparent sale from Lerner's son, Randy, to Tennessee billionaire Jimmy Haslam.
After losing, turmoil, upheaval, bottle throwing and Eric Mangini, it's easy to say the Lerner reign has been a disaster. The run of mediocrity makes Gabe Paul's tenure as the Tribe's boss look, well, still pretty bad. But that's another column.
And during the Lerners' time as owners, the Baltimore Ravens, who used to be the Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland's biggest rival, have been powerhouses.
Sometimes I wonder if the Browns' issues can be traced back to November 2002, when Al Lerner died. Whenever you heard Lerner speak, he talked about winning football games. While so many talk about tradition, culture, and environments, Al Lerner kept it simple.
His focus always led me to believe eventually, he'd get it right. Meanwhile, Randy's focus seemed to be wavering, and he was criticized for that.
It never bothered me that Randy Lerner seemed to care more about soccer. It never bothered me that he was a hands-off owner.
What bothered me, and likely will continue to do so, is his continual restarts. The Browns were like a computer that freezes every half hour, and instead of taking the time to fix it, Randy Lerner was the frustrated college student who kept pressing the reset button.
The program returns, and so do the problems.
Al Lerner lived to see two coaches in five years of ownership. Randy Lerner has had five in 10 years. The only consistency of his franchise has been instability.
One has to ask: Would the Browns have been any worse off letting Chris Palmer or Romeo Crennel coach out their contracts?
Which brings me to my biggest, and only, gripe with the impending ownership change. No, the Browns aren't going anywhere. But Haslam, who owns a minority share of the Steelers, could see to it that the front office will.
It's not that I'm sold on the Mike Holmgren-Tom Heckert-Pat Shurmur regime.
But I am sold on stability.
And, sadly, instability is the only thing one can be certain of with this franchise.