Fighting fires isn’t easy. Particularly when you’re an NFL general manager. They don’t give you a hose in GM school.

Fighting fires isn’t easy. Particularly when you’re an NFL general manager. They don’t give you a hose in GM school.

Between two-a-day practices on the second day of training camp, Browns General Manager Phil Savage did something he couldn’t in seasons past. He left the facility and went to a speaking engagement.

Better yet, Savage didn’t have to worry about his cell phone buzzing with another fire to put out. He didn’t have to concern himself with some sort of figurative cloud hanging over the team.

Phil Savage is a bonafide GM in charge of a bonafide NFL team. The Browns GM looks younger and happier now than he has in previous years.

During a question-and-answer period with high school coaches from around the country at the NFL’s Youth Football Summit in Stark County, Ohio, Savage was asked a question about Brett Favre and Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson.

Savage and Thompson are friends. But Savage said he wouldn’t want to be in Thompson’s shoes right now because of the Favre backlash. Imagine the Browns GM not wanting to switch places with the Packers GM.

Yes, things have progressed. Cleveland no longer is the NFL’s laughingstock.

Savage has built his job into one others in the league would want.

“I’ve told my wife this, on paper when I interviewed at other teams and then interviewed with the Browns, a lot of people would’ve thought this wasn’t a good job,” Savage said. “People would’ve said, ‘Golly, that’s the worst job he could have taken.’ At the end of the day, I’m not so sure it’s not the best.

“You got the tradition. We got a good head coach. Our owner, he’s almost the perfect kind of owner. He’s doesn’t fashion himself as an expert. He’s supportive, but he’ll let you know he may not agree with things, and then let’s us do it. ... We had no where to go but up.”

That is, precisely, where the Browns seem to be heading.

The team has a starting quarterback, and won’t use a coin to determine who’s throwing with the first team in the exhibition opener. Savage said in settling on Derek Anderson over first-round pick Brady Quinn, the team delayed deciding on which fork in the road they will take.

They have a 1,000-yard running back returning. Cleveland -- yes Cleveland -- may have the best young left tackle in the game in Joe Thomas.

“If all our players were like Joe Thomas, I could stand up here and guarantee a Super Bowl,” Savage said. “Joe knows he’s a good player, but he wants to be great. ... He’s the guy that unlocked the key to our offense and set the foundation for what we did last year.”

This is what training camp is supposed to be about. It’s not supposed to be about quarterback controversies, or staph infections. It’s not supposed to be about arrests and who was chased by the police after he was chased at practice.

This is a normal training camp in Cleveland. No wonder Savage looks younger.

“I would say you have a chance to focus more on football,” Savage said. “I’m going to watch practice tape with the guys. It’s always a fear, the fear of the unknown because you don’t know what injury will happen, or this or that pop up. But we’re more stable. It makes it more enjoyable. You just want to get to Sept. 7 with everybody intact.”

Even tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., thought to be a contract distraction this summer, is playing the good soldier role. He said Thursday he isn’t holding out for a new contract.

Yes, football is about business. That’s part of Savage’s job. Perhaps a part he doesn’t enjoy as much as just watching the team come together. It is a necessary evil.

During his chat with high school coaches, he talked about the camp he runs in Mobile, Ala., for high school players. It’s a free camp that has grown 10-fold in 18 years.

“Those are my three favorite days of the year,” Savage said. “There are no agents involved. There’s no money involved. It’s just football and I love every minute of it.”

Maybe that was a nod to the negotiations with Winslow’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, a show-me-the-money agent. These days, though, there aren’t many minutes Savage isn’t loving his job.

He’s in charge of the Browns. And the Browns, they’re back.

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