Wings' boss ready and willing to talk lacrosse on Web site blog

Posted: April 09, 2007

Being the co-founder of the National Lacrosse League wasn't enough for Russ Cline. Instead of sitting back and letting his name live on in lacrosse history, Cline continues to play an important role in the league - especially for the Philadelphia Wings.

Cline, president and majority owner of the Wings, already has his name in the NLL Hall of Fame, so doesn't that mean it's time to retire?

Cline refuses to leave the spotlight because of his love for lacrosse. And being a passionate sports fan, he knows how other fans feel. For this reason, Cline has started a weekly blog called "Russ' Remarks" on the Wings' Web site.

"It's an effort to connect with fans in a different type of way," Cline said. "Blogs have become a popular thing, a popular way to communicate.

"It is important not to separate ownership and fans. I get to show the human side of myself. It's extremely important for owners to show a human side.

"Fans think ownership doesn't care when we don't tell them we care. But we care a lot. Everything is invested in the franchise."

In his blog entry last Monday, Cline wrote about his expectations for the team and apologized to fans for a poor game over the weekend in Toronto.

He wrote about the need for team unity. He hopes his writing shows the emotions he goes through while watching the Wings play.

"People think we don't hurt like they do, and if we did, we'd do something about it," Cline said. "It's better if we let people know we share the same emotions as they do.

"The only way to do that is to communicate with them. A blog is a great way to do that."

Cline is happy with the feedback fans have given so far on the Web site's message board.

"Fans have been supportive in reading, and in their opinion, they believe I'm as honest as I can be," he said. "I get a lot of fan feedback expressing if they agree or disagree, which is a good thing."

Cline was seen as the right man for the job because of his longtime experience with the organization.

"I've been here from the start; people know me," he said. "I was asked by management staff if I could do this.

"When something goes wrong, [fans] want to blame the majority owner. So it's better to hear thoughts through me than a mediator," he said. "It's a lot of work and not easy to do. I'm trying to communicate feelings and emotions but have to act as commander-in-chief. Before I finalize an [entry], I run it through close confidants to make sure I'm not too aggressive or unfair."

Before getting into lacrosse, Cline earned the label of marketing pioneer after spending 10 seasons with the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs in the 1970s and '80s, so he knows about motivation.

"I know the team reads [the blog], but I don't get much feedback from them," he said. "I would hope it would motivate them, and in some instances, it might make them angry.

"I have to deal with the thoughts of the people and popularity of the sport. I'm not asking [the players] to play their best because I'm an owner. It's about the pride of Philadelphia. We have to give our best. The players know I'm in it with them." *

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