Cleveland Browns president Carmen Policy knows NFL tampering rules prohibit him from hiring Dwight Clark as the team's general manager now. He can't recruit Mike Holmgren as coach, either.
But if two guys out there walk, talk and think like Clark and Holmgren, Policy let it be known Tuesday they might be welcome in Cleveland.
Policy, the former president of the 49ers, and Browns owner Al Lerner have made several public appearances in Cleveland during the past month as excitement starts to build in this city about the expansion team.
The new Browns begin play next season and still have no coach, general manager or players.
NFL rules prohibit the Browns from approaching other teams' coaches and front office personnel during the season, although Policy and Lerner have asked that the rules be relaxed for Cleveland.
During a question-and-answer session with the audience, Policy was asked if he would like to hire Holmgren, and if he wanted the dual role. Holmgren's contract with Green Bay allows him to pursue such arrangements.
"I'm not permitted to refer specifically to Mr. Holmgren -- because that would be tampering. Let's just say if a head coach who's out there, who's won a Super Bowl, who's been to another Super Bowl, who is coaching a team in contention for the playoffs this year, who is an offensive-minded coach, looking to perhaps move when the season's over, were to be interested -- I'd take a look at him," Policy said to cheering and laughter from the audience.
Holmgren was the offensive coordinator with the 49ers under Policy before becoming Green Bay's head coach. P>Policy had another similarly long-winded answer when asked about Clark, who is working for San Francisco without a contract and seemed poised to come to Cleveland last month until the 49ers blocked the move.
After describing someone exactly like Clark who "may want to come to Cleveland and work for the Cleveland Browns," Policy said, "then I have been told that if a deal is cut with that organization he would be permitted to leave earlier rather than later."
Clark could be freed up by the 49ers as soon as next month.
Lerner, who usually takes a back seat to Policy when talking football, made a pitch to prospective coaching candidates.
The new Browns will offer coaches a chance to start fresh, without inheriting a bad team, he said.
"We may or may not have problems, but we certainly didn't show them in the 1998 season," he said.
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