Report: Accidental tweet gets Grossi removed from Browns beat


Last week, long-time Browns beat writer Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer inadvertently posted an unflattering message about Browns owner Randy Lerner on Twitter.

“He is a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world,” Grossi said.  The tweet was later deleted.

As it turns out, Lerner may remain sufficiently relevant to influence the work assignments at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  According to, Grossi has been removed from the beat.

Last week, the newspaper addressed the issue at its website,  “Last night, Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi made an inadvertent, inappropriate post to Twitter concerning Browns owner Randy Lerner.  Grossi has reached out to Lerner to apologize.  The Plain Dealer also apologizes.”

Grossi also addressed the situation in a video podcast:  “Last night there was a comment attributed to me on my Twitter account.  It was inadvertent, it was inappropriate, and I do apologize for it.  I’ve reached out to Randy Lerner to apologize to him for it and we’ll just leave it at that. It was inappropriate and not meant to be tweeted, but it was inappropriate nonetheless.”

Though no one has explained specifically how it happened that the tweet was posted on Grossi’s page, it appears this is the latest example of someone not understanding how to properly use the “direct message” function.  Grossi apparently intended to express his opinion privately to one of his Twitter followers, but he accidentally posted it onto his primary Twitter profile, which can be viewed publicly.

And while we know nothing about any other issues or circumstances between Grossi and his bosses, the reaction seems more than a little harsh.  Though the not-intended-for-publication message raises potential questions about Grossi’s objectivity when it comes to Lerner, it’s not as if Lerner is actively involved in the management of the team.  In many respects, Lerner is an absentee landlord, with little or no interest in doing the things that so many other NFL owners love to do.

But while Lerner takes a hands-off approach to the Browns, he has shown a willingness to respond to indignities with aggressive action.  In 2008, the Browns ended a preseason partnership with WOIO-TV after the station broadcast a portion of a 911 call made by Lerner’s sister when her daughter drowned.

“The recent coverage of the Lerner family tragedy is but the latest, albeit the most shocking and insensitive example of this destructive behavior,” Browns vice president Michael Keenan wrote in a letter to WOIO terminating the contract for “irresponsible journalism.”

It’s currently unknown whether Lerner or the Browns requested, suggested, or demanded that Grossi be reassigned.  Regardless of how this all came to be, Grossi’s only wrongdoing, in our view, was his failure to properly navigate the Twitter application on his smartphone.

Besides, the substance of Grossi’s comments don’t come off to us as objectively offensive or inappropriate.  He referred to Lerner as “pathetic” and called Lerner an “irrelevant billionaire.”  (I’ve been called much worse than an “irrelevant billionaire,” and I aspire to be much less.)

If it turns out that Lerner indeed pushed the Plain Dealer to dump Grossi from the beat for his accidental expression of a private opinion he’s entitled to have, it definitely will be evidence, in our opinion, of a pathetic act by the billionaire owner of a largely irrelevant team.

84 responses to “Report: Accidental tweet gets Grossi removed from Browns beat

  1. Grossi sucked anyway. His lack of objectivity was not well hidden. The Plain Dealer is a dinosaur of a news organization. Maybe Grossi can go get a real tean now instead of that orange hue he has been sporting.

  2. You are 100% correct here Mike. Obviously, the Browns, and in particular, their “irrelevant and pathetic” owner made a couple calls and got Grossi removed from the Browns beat. And of course, the wimpy leaders of a dying media(newspaper) cowered to their demand. Pathetic and sad.

  3. Professionals who use Twitter would be wise to not DM anything on that they don’t want the world to see. It’s way too easy to accidentally make your message public, and there’s no taking it back…

  4. I agree with Randy Lerner’s decision to terminate WOIO-TV’s preseason broadcast rights following the airing of a 911 call.

    Such pathetic exploitation of emergency calls as prurient “ear candy” for viewers is despicable and inexcusable. Honestly, it makes me question wanting to call 911 as a bypasser for fear of having my emotional response to a tragedy aired for thousands of others’ eavesdropping pleasure.

  5. I’m crushed.
    First we loose Winslow and Braylon ‘hands of stone’ Edwards.

    Then, we loose the Mangenius, undoubtedly one of the biggest losses in football. His draft record (Gholston, Vikune, Robiskie, and Massoquoi) is unparalleled in the history of the sport.

    Now Grossi? What’s next? Are they going to trade McCoy for Warfield and Collins (either would be better than what they have today although both are collecting social security!)

    Say it ain’t so!

  6. i wish i were an irrelevant billionaire.

    Hopefully this means that Grossi will lose his vote for the NFL HOF and the NFL can do the right thing and put Art Modell in before he dies. The guy is responsible for the TV coverage of the modern NFL and if someone like Ralph Wilson who truly was irrelevant compared to Art can get in, then they need to find a place for Art.

  7. “in our opinion, of a pathetic act by the billionaire owner of a largely irrelevant team.”

    Spoken like a true Steelers fan.

  8. Grossi is a pathetic and irrelevant beat writer. The Browns probably never contacted the PD, the PD just found a way to legitimately fire a bad reporter. Can wait to look up how many articles Grossi wrote on NFL players making bad decisions via Twitter. I think I see him riding off into the sunset with Ocho….

  9. I feel badly for Grossi, but Browns fans won’t miss much with his absence. With the new regime, the Cleveland media has no inside access, and Grossi’s inadvertent tweet wouldn’t improve that. Terry Pluto is more respectful of the fans and a more thoughtful writer.

  10. Good riddance. Grossi’s head has been too big for years. He knows very little about football and specializes in making mountains of molehills.

  11. It’s currently unknown whether Lerner or the Browns requested, suggested, or demanded that Grossi be reassigned.

    I’ll bet on: yes

  12. Both Lerner and Grossi are very mediocre at what they do.

    If the Browns are ever to be built into a successfull team and organization I suspect that they would have to see both these guys move on.

    Many Browns fans think that an absentee owner is a good thing as long as he spends the money. Lerner does spend, yet the past 8 years has shown that great NFL franchises require more.

    The Browns need an owner who really cares. Not one who just talks about it.

    Grossi is just a bozo who nobody takes seriously.

  13. Nothing new – journalists sometimes get clipped if they tick off certain folks who own (or are big shots with) the team they cover. Mike Singletary, when he was the SF coach, got a talk show host replaced when the guy asked questions he didn’t like.

    In an ideal world people would be able to freely express opinions which aren’t offensive, even if an irrelevant person (be it an owner or former NFL player) becomes flabbergasted.

  14. I doubt Lerner had to pick up the phone in this case. The PD has been looking to dump Grossi for years, mostly because his “reporting” is cut and paste from other sources.

    As a beat writer, Grossi should be breaking stories, not photocopying them. Any decent reporting of the Browns comes from Mary Kay Cabot (also at the PD), the guy from the Akron paper (name escapes me now) and his predecessor (Pat McManamon).

    Irony du jour: Tony Grossi is far more “pathetic” and “irrelevant” in the world of NFL journalists than Randy Lerner is in the world of billionaires.

  15. Don’t blame the Browns,sure they acted like jerks, but that was predictable. The pathetic party in this story is The Plain Dealer who let the Browns decide who the paper puts on the beat. From now on , I’ll just assume that they are in bed with the football team, with no objectivity or guts enough to criticize the team or it’s front office. PFT should be hard on the paper, not the Browns.

  16. NFL fan neutral to the Browns here. to me, this is reason #1,438,658 why all major league sports teams should be owned publicly. the game belongs to the fans, and so should the teams. in that respect, I very much admire the Packers organization.

    I don’t know anything about Grossi or his writing. he very well may be terrible, as some above have suggested. but to use the Browns’ influence to get him re-assigned over having your feelings hurt by a tweet (that wasn’t even that bad) is inappropriate at best. what happened to America being a meritocracy?

    if someone is fired, it should be because they’re bad at their jobs. not because a billionaire has thin skin.

    PS – journalists are supposed to report the news without bias. that means NFL journalists should give the same respect to the Browns and other teams that it does the “flagship” franchises. it’s completely fair to comment on level of play, but to label a franchise “irrelevant” is out of bounds. get it together, PFT.

  17. Browns fans – just be happy he didn’t find a way to work a “staph infection” reference in this piece. giving credit where credit is due, however, spending a couple paragraphs in 2012 discussing a 2008 dispute over preseason TV rights was inspired.

  18. Couldn’t happen to a better guy.What a idiot.Glad he is gone.Don’t let the door hit ya…..

  19. “Tony, we have to punish you for your inadvertent tweet.”
    “I understand.”
    “We’re taking you off the Browns beat”
    “Well, don’t you have anything to say?”
    “I’m waiting to hear what my punishment is.”

  20. Raven droppers – don’t worry, Cleveland’s NFL HOF vote will go to another voter who hates scumbag Modell. But thanks for pointing out the one redeeming quality of Tony Grossi – his annual campaign to keep one of the lyingest, most inept, scumbag owners in history out of the Hall of Fame.

    and spare me your words about his (alleged) influence on getting the first big NFL TV deals, talk about a guy being in the right place at the right time. so Modell chaired the TV committee, whoopie doo, the guy really responsible for that success is already in the HOF, Pete Rozelle.

  21. dcpowergator says: Jan 25, 2012 4:50 PM

    Raven droppers – don’t worry, Cleveland’s NFL HOF vote will go to another voter who hates scumbag Modell. But thanks for pointing out the one redeeming quality of Tony Grossi – his annual campaign to keep one of the lyingest, most inept, scumbag owners in history out of the Hall of Fame.

    and spare me your words about his (alleged) influence on getting the first big NFL TV deals, talk about a guy being in the right place at the right time. so Modell chaired the TV committee, whoopie doo, the guy really responsible for that success is already in the HOF, Pete Rozelle.


    Get over it, Browns fans. You never cared when another city loses a franchise in any sport. In fact, you’re attitude is “they deserved it”. But when it’s YOU…..oh, that’s different! You guys can play the victims like crazy (see “Factory of Sadness). What’s it been? 14, 15 years? But by all means, turn every PFT post into “poor us, we lost our team” pity party.

    As for Grossi, I have to agree. So-so reporter, nothing special. He ran a personal “get Mangini out of town” campaign, so what comes around……

  22. Grossi hated Modell and now hates Lerner. Maybe karma in loserville err Cleveland is the problem. Grossi should have been fired.

  23. I love it when the media gets slapped around like the punks they are.

    Great work Lerner. Probably be the last time that jerk ever opens his big mouth again.

  24. “a pathetic act by the billionaire owner of a largely irrelevant team”

    He certainly is not “irrelevant”…he got a sports reporter fired/reassigned and had a TV station’s preseason contract severed.

    I wonder if Holmgren, acting as the “beard” for Lerner, made the call to the PD demanding Grossi’s head.

    Maybe Lerner isn’t irrelevant, but he certainly is pathetic.

  25. Mike Holmgren has wanted Grossi gone ever since he wrote that these are “the same old Browns” conducting “business as usual” right after Colt McCoys concussion scandal. This tweet gave Holmgren the last piece of ammo needed to wipe Grossi out.

    Now, if Holmgren can just prove that these aren’t the same old Browns by showing us a decent product on the field…

  26. Maybe he can get a job writing for the OBR or something. His articles are nothing more than opinionated blogs anyway.

  27. Grossi is a buffoon. He got suspended for 2 weeks with no pay after some asinine comments he made about the Browns when Modell still owned the team. He should stick to what his pea-size brain does best…making sure Modell doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame.

    Grossi would be fired from McDonald’s he’s so stupid.

  28. No one has ever answered my question…..

    Is his wife named Josie?

    Because I really hope she is.

  29. If Lerner or the Browns demanded Grossi’s head, we should all shudder. It’s sad that the PD didn’t have the backbone to stand up to moneybags Lerner.

    Although Grossi irritated me at times with his opinions, I respected him. He was a knowledgeable, unpretentious, and humorous voice. In fact, many fans felt he held back too much criticism that the Browns richly deserved.

    Will any Cleveland reporter now dare to insult King Randy and his Browns?

    Rich Entitled Brat Owner – 1
    Free Speech – 0

  30. I’ve hoped Grossi would get fired for years, but this only makes the PD look more idiotic, not less.

    Instead of firing him for shoddy writing, slanted “reporting,” or non-existent analysis, they fire him after he tweets the most (only?) honest, insightful thing that’s ever come out of his conscious mind. Embarrassing all-around…sort of like the Browns! (Nailed it.)

  31. As a Browns fan, I’m really glad about this. Lots have said it already, but Grossi sucked. I never learned anything from him that wasn’t already on

    His opinions weren’t inspired either.

    Bad writer. Bad twitter decision. Good outcome.

  32. The Plain Dealer was a once highly regarded news organization. If they wanted to replace Grossi on the Browns beat because they found him ineffective, fine. They could have done that anytime. But to do it like this, seemingly under orders from Lerner, kills the paper’s credibility.

    If the Sports Department bows to pressure from a wealthy local business owner, why should Cleveland readers believe anything written by the News or Financial writers? This just says that anytime an influential figure disagrees with the paper’s editorial viewpoint, the paper will change it to suit the rich and powerful. I’d cancel my subscription immediately, even if I didn’t give a hoot about the Browns or have any idea who Grossi is. The paper can’t be trusted.

  33. What will it take, somebody getting killed for everyone to realize twitter is a waste of time?

    You have to be pretty self-centered to believe anyone cares what your every waking thought is on topics to begin with.

  34. Irrelevant?

    If Arthur the rat is ever inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, one of the greatest institutions that exists will forever be tarnished. Severely!

    Please tell me that will never happen.

  35. Tony Grossi had stones. He should not have said what he said, but everyone is entitled to put their foot in their mouth at least once. He always sounded as frustrated as most Browns Fans.

  36. Interestingly enough, had he been a columnist he could have written this pretty much verbatim in the actual paper and nobody would have said boo about it. In an age where news reporters are being required to put out so many tweets and FB posts a week and produce more page views, the line between pure reporting and opinion pieces and gossip are becoming more blurred by the day.

    Still not a smart move on his part. Not sure how you accidentally post something like that. Probably thought it was a private reply to somebody, but even those are dangerous unless you absolutely know who you are talking to.

  37. YYYYEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!! Wow! Christmas in January!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this for YEARS! Anybody stupid enough to say that he’s a fan of the City of Cleveland but not of its teams should never have been hired in the first place. Had Ed Bouchette ever tried that in Steelervillve, he’d have been gone long ago. Fantastic news!!!!!!!!!!

  38. I suppose they’ll replace him with a Kool-Aid drinker who tells us how great everything is with the Browns regardless how bad things are!

  39. Grossi stinks,the PD stinks,the Browns stink,Holmgren stinks,McCoy stinks,Shurmer stinks,etc.etc.and Lerner should wake up every day and thank God he was born to a rich daddy or he would be working at the local burger joint he has NO clue about life or business,another spoiled little rich kid that takes over the family business and screws up everything,now run along little Randy somebody will have to clean up another mess you made.

  40. It’s daily newspapers that are pathetic and irrelevant. There was a time, believe it or not, that they had the biggest balls in town and were unafraid to stand up for their writers. Now they’re afraid of their own shadow, afraid someone’s gonna yell at them and accuse them of not being “objective.” Little wonder they’re dying a slow death.

  41. Just for the record (in case he’s reading this) Lerner is one of my favorite billionaires, him and that Girls Gone Wild guy…

  42. Speaking for Pats fans, we offer you Ron Borges to replace him. Please take him and Jon Tomasi gets thrown in for free. They deserve the job in Cleveland.

  43. A newspaper reporter who doesn’t know how to use Twitter shouldn’t be on Twitter. If he screws up and tweets something he meant to send directly to one other person, he deserves whatever happens afterwards.

  44. I know you built a stadium for the Indians and the Cavs two teams that pale in comparison to the love Cleveland has for the Browns.You had tax money for that but not the Browns.

  45. All the reporters/commentators at the PD that cover the Browns are pathetic.

    Mary Kay promotes controversies over minor comments. Bud Shaw has no clue about pro football. Terry Pluto keeps using selected statistics to prove his slanted views – and then contradicts them 6 months later. And Dennis Manaloff is simply over his head when writing or reporting anything.

    Tony Grossi was not let go just due to this tweet. There were a number of things he did behind the scenes where he elected to play politics and act like a power broker, instead of keeping Browns fans that read the PD up to date.

    The entire NE Ohio media – starting with the PD and the radio/cable TV talk show hosts made fools of themselves this past year. Finally Mike Holmgren had to admonish them at a press conference as a teacher talking to a class of unruly students that refused to do any homework would do. At the beginning of a news conference he stated – “I’m going to do what I want to do, and not what you want me to do.”

    But hey, the Cleveland media and their fans have seen 4 playoff game wins since 1968. They know how to build an franchise that has been an expansion team for 10 years now. Surely they’re not going to give any respect to a guy that was in major positions with 3 NFL organizations that all were perennial contenders and all made the Super Bowl. What does that guy know? let’s push him around – he took over the oldest and slowest roster in the NFL that was close to maxing out on the salary cap, and in 2 years he didn’t turn things around. What’s so good about him?

    For the record, I am a Browns fan. And for the record, I have to logon to PFT every day to find out what the Browns are doing……because no one in the local media has a clue.

  46. 1. All speech has consequense. 2. T. Grossi compromised what little access he had left as a beat writer with his misdirected tweet.

  47. readysethike says:Jan 25, 2012 4:17 PM

    anyone over 30 should not be on twitter


    Anyone under 30 should try communicating w/o electronic gadgets!

  48. See what happens when you can’t control your fingers and you mess with the one percent?!

  49. If I’m not mistaken, this is the second time Grossi has been removed as the Browns beat reporter. As I recall, the other time occurred before Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore. Grossi said something unflattering and was removed from the Browns beat.

    After that occurred, Grossi has been accused of marshalling support against Modell’s election to the Hall of Fame.

  50. I think he meant the browns are a pathetic/irrelevant team in the NFL.

    It’s got to be hard covering that joke of an organization year after year. Give the guy a break.

  51. Buttazer: “I know you built a stadium for the Indians and the Cavs two teams that pale in comparison to the love Cleveland has for the Browns.You had tax money for that but not the Browns.”

    Like I said…you don’t know anything about what Cleveland offered to build Arthur.

    Why don’t you run along and blindly comment on something else you know nothing about.

  52. He was not a good reporter. He never broke any news. He never made a correct prediction regarding personel or record.

    He was a lot like the Randy Quaid character in Major League. All doom and gloom until they won a game. Then all of a sudden he was driving the band wagon.

  53. If I’m not mistaken the Browns have their own news department headed up by Vic Carrucci. Looking at the Plain Dealers archives there hasn’t seemed to be a head coach that newspaper hasn’t buried in an article so I can see why. I doubt the Browns even acknowledge the local Cleveland Papers existence so I doubt any of the beat writers are going to have a positive opinion of an organization that shuts them out.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.