Though the Ottawa Renegades have been criticized for having absentee management, their latest public-relations challenge has not escaped the attention of majority owner Bernie Glieberman.
The Detroit businessman was in town yesterday and was fully aware of general manager Forrest Gregg's disastrous radio interview on Team 1200 two days earlier. Renegades staff briefed Glieberman on the adverse fan reaction during a meeting Wednesday, and that apparently has the boss contemplating major changes atop the organization.
It is believed Glieberman, who did not return several messages yesterday, is considering bringing in a football executive who would be responsible for communicating the club's messages to its fans. It is unclear whether the person would also replace Gregg as general manager -- in title or responsibilities -- or team president Lonie Glieberman, but it is clear that the elder Glieberman left Ottawa convinced the status quo was not working effectively.
The Gregg interview on Tuesday produced an angry backlash from callers and e-mailers to the radio station, some of whom said they would no longer be buying tickets. At one point, the 72-year-old NFL legend appeared to forget the name of starting quarterback Kerry Joseph.
Lonie Glieberman said yesterday that if Gregg were removed, he would voluntarily resign.
"If that is the case, I'll be gone also," he said. "(Bernie) could be thinking about that. There was a discussion, and my dad said they talked about all things business."
The conversation included Phil Kershaw, an ex-Rough Riders president and current team consultant, and former player Mark Kosmos, who owns the Local Heroes restaurants and has been one of the city's biggest football boosters.
Kosmos also took to the Team 1200 airwaves this week and delivered a stinging indictment of the Renegades' future. He later told the Citizen, he said he had not yet decided whether he would renew his sponsorship agreement with the club, a startling admission given that, one year ago, Kosmos was unfazed by the team's ownership tumult and pledged his unconditional backing.
That seems to have changed, and Kosmos, who played for the Rough Riders in the 1970s, wouldn't say whether he sought a role with the team, saying he wanted to help and that management is out of touch with fans.
The Renegades have been criticized because Gregg, Lonie Glieberman and head coach John Jenkins have not been in town since November.
As well, fans have been upset with the team's lack of activity in free agency. The team re-signed Joseph, defensive halfback Korey Banks, the club's most outstanding player in 2005, linebacker Kyries Hebert and others to long-term contracts this winter.
As of last night, the Renegades had not offered contracts to any CFL free agents other than Pascal Cheron, a member of their offensive line in 2005.
Last night, Cheron said he had a discussion with Hamilton head coach Greg Marshall about rejoining the team with which he played between 2000 and 2004.
"My wife has to keep her job (in Hamilton), and we have to keep the house," Cheron said. "I'm 99-per-cent sure I'll join (the Ticats). It's very easy, knowing I can stay here."