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December 30, 2012 - Mike McLain
PITTSBURGH -- If you didn't know that Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur was going to be fired before Sunday's loss to the Steelers, you know it now.
Shurmur admitted after the Steelers' 24-10 win that he hasn't spoken to either owner James Haslam III or CEO Joe Banner in "quite some time." Haslam and Banner were on the field prior to kick off Sunday, but somehow neither managed to come close enough to Shurmur to exchange a few words.
That sounds borderline dysfunctional for a NFL franchise. Owners and other personnel high in organizations meet on a weekly basis with the head coach. Former Brown coach Sam Rutigliano used to have dinner with owner Art Modell when Rutigliano coached the Browns in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
It's so obvious that Shurmur is on his way out. He could get the word tonight (Sunday) if not Monday.
Shurmur gave an emotional speech to the players after the game. According to players he was close to tears at times. There were times when Shurmur's eyes were tearful during his press conference.
"To me he was trying to hold back tears," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "He put everything into it. We were trying to do something we hadn't done since 1988 (sweep the Steelers), and with everything else that's looming above his head, he's in a tough spot.
"The players appreciate him and we'd run through a brick wall for him. It's too bad we couldn't get a win for him."
Jackson spoke to the team following Shurmur's speech. Jackson knows that changes are coming, not only high in the organization but on the player level.
"This is a long battle and it's a grind," Jackson said. "Through injuries; through those groundhog days in camp; it's a long process from spring to January. I told the guys I appreciate them and it's a pleasure playing with them. The young guys gained a ton of experience. Take that experience and take this feeling and carry that over."
Shurmur said he planned to go about his normal routine the day after the season ends, which is to meet with players in the morning. By then he might know that he's no longer the coach of the Browns.
"If (I'm) not (coaching), then what I'm going to do is help coach and help inspire a team to win games in some role," he said. "I have kids in college. I have mouths to feed, and this is my profession and this is what I choose to do. That is how simple it is in my mind."
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