Palmer joins Browns

Coach signs for 5 years

Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Chris Palmer's promise to embrace and build upon the history and tradition of the Cleveland Browns won him the job as the head coach of the new Browns, who begin play next season as an expansion team.

Palmer, offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars the past two seasons and a longshot for the Cleveland job just a week ago, was hired Thursday.

Palmer, 49, is the ninth full-time coach of the Browns, who are returning to the NFL following a three-year absence. Former owner Art Modell took the old team to Baltimore.

'The Cleveland Browns have always been my first choice,' said Palmer, a nine-year NFL assistant whose only head coaching experience came at the college level. In the front row during his news conference were Browns Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli and former All-Pros Gene Hickerson, Doug Dieken and Hanford Dixon.

Browns president Carmen Policy said Palmer's contract is for five years and would be worth approximately $5 million plus incentives.

Palmer was offered and accepted the job Wednesday after a day spent with Policy, team owner Al Lerner and director of football operations Dwight Clark.

As Palmer talked about his plans for building the new Browns, he stopped to address the former Cleveland players.

'The tradition and pride that you guys have built with the Browns is something we'll cherish and build our program on,' he said.

That was the same type of comment that helped Palmer win over Policy in their first interview late last week. Policy had never met Palmer, but came away from their visit shocked by Palmer's preparedness and an engaging personality he had only heard about.

Palmer fit the Browns' head coaching profile - offensive-minded, expansion team background, experience with young quarterbacks - from the start. The Browns are considering making University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch the top pick in the draft.

The Browns had intended to try and hire Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick on Monday, but when he told Cleveland he was still interested in interviewing with Baltimore, Policy said to go ahead and Billick signed with the Ravens.

Policy called Palmer back to meet with Lerner and Clark, who were both out of town when the coach first visited.

Policy said while the interview continued, he received two dozen phone calls endorsing Palmer.

Publication date: 01-22-99

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