Former Browns GM fights firing

Former Browns GM fights firing

Published Dec. 21, 2009 2:52 p.m. ET

AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Former Cleveland Browns general manager George Kokinis has filed for arbitration against the team for firing him.

Kokinis was dismissed by the Browns on Nov. 2. He filed the case with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

The case could be heard by Goodell.


Kokinis is seeking more than $4 million in compensation and damages. He asserts that the Browns fraudulently induced him to join the team under the representation that he would have control over all player personnel matters and report directly to owner Randy Lerner.

Browns general counsel Fred Nance said the team was aware of Kokinis' filing.

"We've received it and are reviewing it," Nance said through a team spokesman.

Kokinis feels he was wrongly fired because of his unwillingness to defer on numerous important matters relating to the team's football operations.

His attorney, Jeffrey L. Kessler of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in New York, said Kokinis had hoped the team would honor its contract without a legal fight.

"George does not want to conduct this dispute in public and we are therefore not going to specify the details of the numerous breaches that the Browns committed," Kessler said in a statement. "However, if the Browns respond publicly with false allegations about George's performance as general manager, as they have threatened to do, we will have no choice but to defend our client's reputation and will have much more to say about the Brown's conduct in connection with this matter."

After Kokinis' dismissal, the Browns sought to show his firing was "for cause." There were reports that the team's security and legal departments were reviewing phone records to build its case against Kokinis.

"George was shocked by the behavior of the Browns in this matter and sincerely hoped that the team would honor its contract without the need to file an arbitration," Kessler said. "But the team has given him no choice. Contracts are meant to be honored, not broken, and there is no basis for the Browns to assert that this is a 'for cause' termination."