Personal foul: tampering. Policy drew the fine from

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

Personal foul: tampering.

Policy drew the fine from commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Friday for violating the league's tampering rules with some glib comments last week at a civic luncheon about Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren.

"I guess if the commissioner felt that it's something we shouldn't have said, I'm sorry we said it for that reason," Policy told the Associated Press during an interview at the Browns training facility in Berea.

"I think anybody at the luncheon would know we were all just having fun. I guess I could have had $10,000 less fun and still have responded to a question," he said.

During a question-and-answer session with the audience, Policy, who was joined at the function by Cleveland owner Al Lerner, was asked whether the Browns would be interested in Holmgren if the Packers coach were to leave Green Bay after the season.

Policy, who recently asked the NFL to relax its tampering rules to allow the Browns to talk with other coaches and front-office personnel, knew his comments could be misinterpreted. He then responded by saying he was not permitted to talk specifically about Holmgren, "because that would be tampering."

But he added, "Let's just say if a head coach who's out there, who has won a Super Bowl, who has 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 ..."

Policy's voice tailed off as the audience laughed and cheered.

Policy later defended his remarks by saying they were made in the spirit of the occasion and he was just trying to give excited Browns fans some news about their new team.

"They want to hear about what's happening to their Browns," Policy said Friday. "They don't want to hear about 'Well, we're not permitted to comment. We can't even allude to this fact. We're working within the framework of the rules."'

The NFL's anti-tampering rules state: "any public or private statement of interest in another club's employee is a violation."

Policy said he understood the message Tagliabue was trying to send with the fine.

"I think there is an atmosphere that has been developed of late that has caused the commissioner to feel compelled to re-establish the viability and credibility of certain rules," he said. "And I think in our particular case he probably would agree that there was no intention to tamper and it probably didn't have any actual or pragmatic effect upon the head coaching landscape in any particular city.

"But I'm sure he believes there was a technical violation and by fining us he is re-establishing the primacy of the rule so that it serves as a precedent for every other organization going forward."

After being informed of the ruling on Friday morning, Policy called Lerner to get his reaction to the club's first front-office fine.

"I asked if he wanted to make a comment," Policy said. "And he said, 'Yeah, I want to make a comment. But I know if I make that comment it's going to cost us a lot more."'

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.