Browns hire Crennel as head coach

As the New England Patriots paraded the streets of Boston, the architect of their champion defence was introduced as the 11th head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Romeo Crennel, 57, accepted the job Sunday night, shortly after New England's 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX at Jacksonville.

"I've been to a few of them (Super Bowls) now, so if we can keep that string alive that would be great," laughed Crennel, who won a pair of Super Bowls as an assistant to Bill Parcells with the New York Giants and three in four years with New England.

Crennel, a highly-respected defensive coordinator with the Patriots, replaces Butch Davis, who resigned last Nov. 30.

"Romeo Crennel represents everything that is great about the game of football," said Browns senior vice-president and general manager Phil Savage. "We are extremely proud and honoured to make him the next head coach."

Promised Crennel: "If I can get the Cleveland Browns, the team, to play the way my defences played with the Patriots, some of them no-name guys, then the Browns will be competitive and a team to be proud of. Know that it might not happen overnight because it takes time to build a winner."

Crennel is Cleveland's third head coach since 1999, when the NFL restored the franchise as an expansion team.

The first African-American head coach in Browns history and sixth in league annals, he inked a five-year, $11-million US pact that will pay him a reported $2 million US next season.

"My skin colour is black, but I am a head coach," Crennel said. "I hope that I possess the qualities that are in a head coach with the leadership, organization and the prioritizing."

"He's not like most first-time coaches," said Joe Linta, Crennel's agent. "He's a guy with more credentials.

"Although he hasn't been a head coach, he has five Super Bowl rings. The Browns aren't just getting a coach.

"They're buying into a program. They are getting 25 years of experience and knowledge."

"Even though I have made it to this point – of being a head coach – in my mind, I am not satisfied until we can win some football games and until we can get this football team in the right direction," Crennel noted. "It's nice to be the head coach but, if I don't win any games, then I am just another coach who loses games."

Crennel entered the NFL coaching ranks under Ray Perkins of the Giants in 1981 and later became Cleveland's defensive guru in 2000.

Crennel jumped to the Patriots a year later.

"I've been somewhat successful as a position coach," Crennel said. "Now being able to take the reins of a team and try to run a whole team, that's special.

"I'm excited about it. I want to be successful and I want to win and that's what I want to try to bring to Cleveland – a winning football team."

with files from Sports Network