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Browns find their man
Report: Cleveland to name Jags' Palmer as first coach
Posted: Thursday January 21, 1999 08:56 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) - Chris Palmer, who was a long shot last week, apparently has won the Cleveland Browns head coaching sweepstakes.
Palmer, offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, met with Browns executives all day and through part of the night Wednesday in his second interview for the job.
He was the only candidate brought to Cleveland a second time and spent more than 10 hours talking with Browns president Carmen Policy, football operations director Dwight Clark and team owner Al Lerner at Lerner's office in suburban Beachwood.
At one point in the afternoon, the group waved to reporters, but gave no indication that a deal had been made. After dinner, Policy said that there still were details to complete and the two sides would meet again this morning.
"I'm reasonably optimistic that things are rolling in a positive direction, and it appears things could turn out very well," he said.
Without citing sources, WOIO-TV reported that Palmer would be chosen as the Browns coach today and would get a five-year contract worth $8 million to $12 million. The Akron Beacon Journal, quoting a source who wasn't identified, said Palmer had been offered the job and accepted.
Team spokesman Alex Martins said that he didn't know if the parties had reached an agreement and that negotiations were continuing. The team hadn't announced plans for a news conference.
The Browns brought in Palmer for a second interview so he could talk with Lerner and Clark, who both were out of town last week when Palmer visited Policy at the team's headquarters in Berea.
Palmer, 49, is the only coach to get a second formal interview with the Browns, who are running out of time and quality coaching candidates to choose from with seven months left to build a team from scratch.
Policy on Tuesday had said no coach would be hired by the Browns "without meeting with and having a pretty good serious sitdown with Al Lerner." Lerner, a billionaire banker, bought the Browns last summer for $530 million.
With the expansion draft less than three weeks away, the Browns realize they need to end their scrambled coaching search. Policy had hoped to hire Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick, but dropped him as a candidate Monday when Billick decided to follow through with a job interview with the Baltimore Ravens.
Billick signed a six-year, $9 million contract with the Ravens on Tuesday, leaving the Browns with three coaches they had interviewed: Palmer, Atlanta offensive line coach Art Shell and Oakland defensive coordinator Willie Shaw.
Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak had removed himself from consideration with the Browns on Monday when he said he would stay with the Broncos beyond the Super Bowl.
After his interview with Shaw on Tuesday, Policy said the Browns' coaching search would "go off the radar screen" and could include college coaches.
"There is very little time," he said. "And some of the people we'll be talking to may wish to have total anonymity. We'd like to keep everything under wraps until we're ready to announce who the head coach is."
That likely is Palmer, who in his first interview had shocked Policy with his thoroughness and an engaging personality Policy said he hadn't expected.
Palmer was in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday preparing for Saturday's Senior Bowl when Policy called. He had been scheduled to interview with the Kansas City Chiefs about their coaching vacancy this week, but after hearing from Cleveland, Palmer flew back to Jacksonville to grab a suit for his interview with the Browns.
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