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A change in ownership can often mean wholesale changes in a franchise's front office, and that may soon be the case with the Cleveland Browns. According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may be ready to shake things up come the end of the 2012 season.
The deal to sell the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam seemed to come together at a breakneck speed, and it looks as if commissioner Roger Goodell and the league will try to keep up that pace. From Fox Sports Ohio:
Speaking at a youth football event in Akron on Saturday morning, Goodell said the involved parties have been "working on it" and that the sale of the Browns from Randy Lerner to Haslam will be finalized and approved "hopefully in a matter of weeks."
"It will be no later than October unless something unusual happens."
Haslam was previously a minority owner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the league's pre-existing relationship with him could be a factor in speeding up the process. There's a good chance the sale will be completed by the time the Browns kick off their regular season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9.
On Friday, new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was introduced to the media during an introductory press conference at the team's practice facility, where he discussed the franchise's future.
"I sense there is a strong feeling here that Mike and the team have things headed in the right direction,'' he said. "I think we have to listen, learn and observe.''
Haslam also said, "There's no reason this can't be a winning franchise. Everything is here. If they don't, I'll accept the blame. It's our fault we didnt execute like we should. Every other piece is in place.''
Along those same lines, Haslam stated that he will try to sell the naming rights to the team's stadium and will be attending Wednesday's Family Night in addition to sitting in the stands during the team's first exhibition game.
His main goal is to bring winning back to Cleveland:
"We're 100 percent committed to making the Browns a winner again. I understand the spirit of the city rises and falls with how the Browns do and it's our job to keep it up.''
Even though Jimmy Haslam has said before that he was a Steelers fan through and through for the past few years during his time as a minority owner with them, he will be doing all he can to help his new team after buying the Browns. Specifically, he said that he would be keeping the team away from any more upheavals or overhauls, and would be in it "for the long run."
He was vouched for by Steelers president Art Rooney in a statement released on Friday. Rooney praised Haslam as a great partner and said that the Browns were getting a "strong new owner:"
"Jimmy Haslam and his family have been great partners in the Steelers Ownership for the past three years," Rooney said in the statement. "I am sorry that he will be leaving our Ownership group, but I am happy the National Football League is going to have a strong new Owner. I am sure the Haslam Family will bring constructive and able ownership to the Cleveland Browns."
Haslam has spent Friday on the practice field with the Browns for his first training camp with the team and will be introduced to the media during a press conference at 1 p.m. ET.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sat down for a one-on-one interview with The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot on Thursday night and answered an array of questions about the future of Cleveland's most beloved sports team. One of the first things Haslam addressed with Cabot was the topic of moving the Browns out of Cleveland. As expected, he's here to quell any fears:
"We're not moving the Cleveland Browns," said Haslam, who arrived in town Thursday night. "To own a team with a such a rich tradition and history is a dream come true. Randy had four things he wanted and I won't share all of them, but No. 1 was we keep them in Cleveland. Why would we move? I've been to three games there on the other side of the field and I've seen the intensity and the enthusiasm. That thought never, ever entered our minds."
Haslam was planning to have dinner with club president Mike Holmgren on Thursday night and while there are rampant reports that Joe Banner is coming to town, the new Browns owner said he's entering the situation with an "open mind" about everyone. Haslam told Cabot he will be buying a home in the area and establishing roots in the community, but that he'll keep his primary residence in Knoxville.
Lastly, Haslam cleared up the issue of Lerner controlling a 30 percent ownership stake. The truck-stop magnate indicated that he will buy out the remaining portion over time as a part of the deal -- a figure reported in the area of $300 million.
Haslam is on the practice field this morning watching his new team and he'll be introduced at a 1 p.m. press conference in Berea.
Reports of changes surrounding the Cleveland Browns continue to surface with Jimmy Haslam taking over ownership of the team. With Joe Banner expected to join Haslam's front office, presumably as team president, current president Mike Holmgren and his general manager Tom Heckert could be on their way out.
According to CBSSports.com's Clark Judge, sources are telling him that big changes are likely on the way:
2 league sources confirmed Banner in Cle as team prez. Said Holmgren, Heckert probably gone. Said 1: "They're going to blow whole place up."— Clark Judge (@ClarkJudgeCBS) August 3, 2012
While Banner's inclusion in the new ownership regime would seem to put Holmgren's status in jeopardy, much less in known when it comes to Heckert. Both Banner and Heckert worked together in Philadelphia and many presumed the two could partner up again in Cleveland. Judge's sources, however, seem to think that's not the case.
Expectations for the Browns' season are low with inexperienced rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson being relied on at quarterback and running back, respectively. The state of the current team gives Haslam a chance to make an immediate mark on the team by making big changes to the organization. Next in line may be coach Pat Shurmur unless the Browns can get off to a strong start.
With Jimmy Haslam set to be introduced as the new majority owner of the Cleveland Browns on Friday, reports of other leadership changes in the organization continue to develop.
Jason LaCanfora reported earlier in the day on Thursday that former Philadelphia team president Joe Banner could join Haslam in Cleveland, but with Mike Holmgren still in that position, the move was not a "slam dunk." Now, according to Mary Kay Cabot, Banner will indeed come to Cleveland with Haslam, leaving Holmgren's status in limbo.
BREAKING: Former— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 3, 2012
#Eagles president Joe Banner will be joining Jimmy Haslam in Cleveland once the sale is approved, league sources told PD.
Prior to this tweet, Cabot reported on Holmgren expressing an interest in staying with the Browns as team president, although he didn't want to comment on possibly working alongside Banner.
Holmgren is in the third year of a five-year contract that pays him about $8 million a year. Asked if he hopes to be here through 2012, he said, "I hope to, but we'll see."
"I've been in this business a long time and we'll just see how that goes," he said. "Right now anything like that would be premature."
Holmgren spoke with Haslam on Wednesday and mentioned the effort to keep things as normal as possible around the team despite the ownership change.
With an agreement for the sale of the team now in place, the Cleveland Browns are expected to introduce new owner Jimmy Haslam III to the media on Friday according to The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.
Haslam will reportedly purchase 70% of the team while previous owner Randy Lerner will retain 30% in a deal worth more than $1 billion according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, although a plan is in place for Haslam to purchase all of Lerner's shares after a four-year window.
As expected, Haslam, who is a minority owner of the Steelers but has longed for his own franchise, was quite pleased with the way things have gone down. "This is a very exciting time for my family and me," Haslam said in a statement released Thursday. "To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true."
The transfer of ownership is set to be voted on by NFL owners in October, and will need to be approved by three-quarters of the owners in order to be fully approved.
The Cleveland Browns are changing hands. Of course, the various NFL owners have to approve the sale from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam, but it's hard to imagine it being anything more than a formality at this point. Outside of the fact that the team is reportedly going for about $1 billion - much more than their valuation - there's not much to note outside of the job status of team president Mike Holmgren.
It might not be fair to say that things haven't changed drastically enough since Holmgren took over. He came in and took the reigns on one of the worst teams in the NFL and everybody knew it was going to be a long process. That being said, not everyone is happy with what's been done thus far, and there's talk about the new ownership group potentially replacing him.
The thought is that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner could replace him, as he's part of the ownership group with Haslam. But Jason La Canfora took to Twitter to suggest that Holmgren could be out either way:
As filed to— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 2, 2012
@cbssports.com, even if Joe Banner does not become team pres under new owner Haslam, Mike Holmgren could still be out ...
La Canfora also had a Tweet that Banner ending up in Cleveland is far from a slam dunk - adding that the sale is likely to go through either way. It's a possibility that hasn't been explored much, but it really does make sense. Even if the ownership doesn't have a guy in mind - or if they do and it isn't Banner - it makes sense that they'd want to make sure the team is run their way, and Holmgren is the kind of guy who demands total control.
Lastly, La Canfora had a third Tweet in which he mentions that the timing of the owners' meeting to approve the sale could be a factor in whether or not Holmgren remains with the team. If it's far into the season and they're doing well, perhaps that will reflect well on Holmgren, or perhaps they just wouldn't want to have that kind of shakeup at that point in the season. It would seem his chances of remaining through 2012 increase based on how long it takes the sale to go through.
Jimmy Haslam will reportedly pay an initial $700 million sum to purchase the Browns from Randy Lerner, and then another $300 million in the second part of the purchase. Adam Schefter, who first reported that the sale was now complete, provided some of the initial terms:
Jimmy Haslam will pay about $700 million in first part of Browns' purchase from Randy Lerner, then over $300 million in second part.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 2, 2012
Joe Banner, formerly a part of the Philadelphia Eagles organization, will be a part of Haslam's group making the purchase. Banner's name first emerged in the initial round of rumors that the club was for sale in early June. NFL Network confirmed that Banner was indeed a part of the new group:
Our folks in LA are reporting Joe Banner will be part of Haslam's executive team in Cleveland. Banner worked with GM Tom Heckert in Philly.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 2, 2012
It didn't take long for the sale of the Cleveland Browns to become official. Less than one week after reports surfaced that Randy Lerner had entered discussions to sell the team, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Thursday morning that deal with Jimmy Haslam was now official. According to Schefter, the sale price was for more than $1 billion:
Sale of Browns is now official and complete. Randy Lerner sold them to Jimmy Haslam for in excessof $1 billion.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 2, 2012
Reports last week indicated that the sale price would come in short of $1 billion but that appears to have changed. It was also reported last week that Lerner would retain a 30 percent stake in the team.
Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan also tweeted that he's heard Haslam has been in Berea this week, undoubtedly familiarizing himself with the operations as the sale came to a close:
Heard rumor that Jimmy Haslam has been in the building this week and continues to be behind the scenes— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) August 2, 2012
The team has yet to confirm Schefter's report.
With the sale of the Cleveland Browns now apparently imminent, it looks as if current majority owner Randy Lerner will remain as a minority owner. Jim Donovan reported on Sunday that Lerner will continue to control as much of 30% of the franchise, meaning he will continue to hold a significant share of the team:
Browns owner Randy Lerner will retain a 30% stake in the team at the outset after he sells 70% to Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam III, radio play-by-play voice and WKYC sportscaster Jim Donovan reported Saturday night.
Lerner assumed ownership of the team after his father, Al Lerner, passed away in 2002. He's taken plenty of heat over the years from Browns fans -- often seen as not holding the Browns as a priority. But he's continued to profess his love for the club and he'll remain on board as a minority owner.
The Cleveland Browns are likely about to be under new ownership. It was reported on Friday that owner Randy Lerner was in talks with Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam to get a deal done at right around $920 million for the NFL franchise. Deals like this can take an awful lot of time though, but Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer is reporting that a deal could come much sooner than that.
Cabot says, citing a league source, that the deal could be completed by the start of the regular season in September:
The deal is close enough that a committee of owners could meet to approve it sometime in August or early September, the source said. Browns President Mike Holmgren said the next full owners' meeting is in October, and no special session has been called yet.
That's relatively quick as far as these things go, but there have been rumors about the Browns being up for sale in the past, including early on in June. It's possible that this has been going on for some time now. The Jacksonville Jaguars also had a very quick sale recently - with Shahid Khan taking over the team from Wayne Weaver in just a matter of weeks.
Also of particular note in the piece is the fact that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is part of the group that is purchasing the team. He'll be part-owner of the team and could be interested in the same role he had with the Eagles, Cabot reports. In that case, Mike Holmgren would be out of a job with a couple years remaining on his contract.
The piece does bring up the possibility that Holmgren has a clause in his contract that says he is paid his entire salary for the remaining years in the event that the team is sold and he is ousted as team president. That's not confirmed but it does seem awfully likely at this point. As it stands, there is no tangible information about the future of Holmgren with the Browns, especially given that the deal hasn't gone through yet.
Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is in the process of closing a $920 million deal to sell the Browns to Knoxville, TN businessman James Haslam, according to a report from Forbes. While that sounds excessive and will certainly net the Lerner family a tidy profit on their initial investment, Haslam may be getting a deal in the context of the NFL.
Lerner had been looking for between $1 billion and $1.1 billion for the team his father purchased for $530 million in 1998. Haslam is currently a minority owner of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and is president and CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J, an $18 billion in sales chain of truck stops.
Last August we valued the Browns at $977 million, 2oth out of the league's 32 teams. The Browns posted an operating loss (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $2.9 million during the 2010 season. The only other NFL teams to have an operating loss that year were the Detroit Lions. The Browns have lost 67% of their games during their 13 seasons. The only team to do worse over that span? The Lions.
As mentioned above, Haslam owns a piece of the Pittsburgh Steelers and still considers himself "1000% Pittsburgh Steelers fan." If he closes this deal with Lerner, Haslam won't be wearing any black and yellow after shelling out so much green for the Browns.
If the sale of the Cleveland Browns goes through and Tennessee businessman and Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner Jimmy Haslam takes control of the team, Mike Holmgren may not be retained as the team's President, according to an ESPN Cleveland report.
In confirming the news of an imminent sale of the Browns, club president Mike Holmgren sounded as if he won't be part of the new organization.
"That'll be answered probably down the road," Holmgren said before the first Browns full-team practice of training camp on Friday. "You control the things you can control. I think we've done a lot of great things here in getting to this point, and we'll see."
Former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is believed to be part of the group looking to purchase the Browns and it has already been speculated that he may wish to use his 18 years of front office experience in Cleveland.
Team general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur both worked under Banner when they were employed by the Eagles.
According to a report by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Randy Lerner is close to selling the Cleveland Browns franchise to a group headed by Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam, a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Most importantly, the Plain Dealer has cited a source who confirms that the team will not be leaving Cleveland as part of the sale.
"An unconditional guarantee was given that the Browns would not move before talks could even start,'' a league source told the Plain Dealer.
In addition to Haslam, Howard Eskin of NBC 10 in Philadelphia has reported that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is believed to be part of the group negotiating to purchase the team. Banner spent 18 years with the Eagles and helped the organization reach five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl during his tenure.
Browns fans began Friday looking forward to a new training camp which kicks into full swing this weekend in Berea, but instead, huge news erupted off the field that owner Randy Lerner was in negotiations to sell the team to a group led by Jimmy Haslam. Rumors surfaced this past spring that Lerner may be shopping the team, but these reports indicate now that the much-maligned owner is on the verge of unloading the city's most beloved franchise.
Of course, the news of a Browns sale immediately prompts questions, however baseless, of a potential franchise move. There's almost no chance of that, but the scar tissue from Art Modell will always remain. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has issued a statement on the matter, trying to quell fears and reinforce the Browns' commitment to Cleveland:
"The Cleveland Browns have some of the most loyal and passionate fans who have helped make it one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The city took precautionary measures to insure that fans would be able to cheer on the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium for years to come."
"The 30-year lease to the Cleveland Browns commenced in 1999 and continues to 2029. This lease, like the prior Municipal Stadium lease, for which the City of Cleveland successfully obtained an injunction in 1995, requires the Browns to play all their regular season and playoff home games in Cleveland Browns Stadium."
"If this requirement is not honored, the city has legal options that could be pursued if necessary."
Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner announced on Friday that he is negotiating with Jimmy Haslam to sell the team.
Amid rumors created by Philadelphia radio personality Howard Eskin, there was some speculation that the Cleveland Browns were soon going to be for sale. However, the team has issued a statement debunking what was out there.
BREAKING: Browns Spokesman Neal Gulkis: "the Cleveland Browns are not for sale''— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 7, 2012
Eskin tweeted today that former Eagles president Joe Banner might be interested in becoming part of a group that would own the Browns. Eskin's tweet today was the first many had heard of the Browns possibly being for sale. Gulkis added to Mark Kay Cabot that he thought the report sounded "very speculative."
The current owner of the Browns is Randy Lerner. The franchise has been in his family since it was an expansion team.
A recent tweet suggests the Cleveland Browns might be for sale.