Ed Driscoll

CLEVELAND BROWNS OWNER DIES: Al

CLEVELAND BROWNS OWNER DIES: Al Lerner was 69. “Lerner underwent surgery in May 2001, reportedly to remove a brain tumor. In June, he said he had been in and out of the hospital during the past year”, according to this AP report.

Lerner was one of the 1998 recipients of the Horatio Alger Award–and I’d say he personified it:

The son of an immigrant candy shop owner, Lerner was a tough-minded kid, whose first job selling furniture paid him $75 a week.

He saved enough to enter a deal to purchase a Cleveland apartment building. His real estate empire grew, and he went on to acquire banking interests in Baltimore.

In 1991, he spun off the MBNA Credit Corp. from debt-ridden MNC Financial in Maryland with a stock offering that raised $995 million. He ended up with a 10 percent stake in MBNA and became its chief executive.

Lerner also was chairman of Town & Country Trust, a Baltimore-based real estate investment trust that owns and manages residential properties.

His friend and business partner, Peter B. Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance Corp., once described Lerner as “the Michael Jordan” of the investment business.