It was a shock to all sports fans in Cleveland today to find out the Browns are in the process of being sold to minority Steelers’ owner James Haslam III, the CEO of Pilot Corporation.
So, one of the three professional sports teams will have new ownership. Unfortunately, it’s not the team most fans wish, as many would prefer the Indians be sold.
It likely will mean the departure of Mike Holmgren as team president because he was brought in to run the team on a daily basis, mostly because Randy Lerner didn’t want to do the job.
The rumors are that former Eagles president Joe Banner will become involved with the Browns as part of the Haslam ownership. That would seem to make Holmgren superfluous.
GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur have worked for Banner before, so they should remain safe, at least for now.
One thing to ponder is how long have these negotiations been going on because there is no way this deal happened in the last couple of days. In fact, a little over a month ago, Philadelphia radio personality Howard Eskin reported the Browns were for sale, which of course Berea denied immediately.
If Haslam and Lerner were talking since the end of the season, for example, it’s likely that the new owner signed off on the drafting of Trent Richardson, the trade up in the draft move to get QB Brandon Weeden, and using a supplemental second round pick to get WR Josh Gordon.
It also may answer the question as to why the Browns were not very active in free agency. The Steelers are rarely involved in the process either, and perhaps the new owner feels if it’s good enough for Pittsburgh, it will work here as well.
It may be that the good feelings that have revolved around Cleveland’s football team this off-season started when Lerner made a decision to get out of the NFL business. We know he didn’t like it because he sent Holmgren to most of the league’s ownership meetings.
If Haslam has been the driving force behind the scenes of the team he is hoping to purchase, then he should be off to a good start with the fans. Playing time will tell, but it appears for the first time in a long time, the Browns have some playmakers on offense and the makings of a solid offensive line as well.
If Haslam was not involved in these moves, let’s hope he lets things play out this year, before making any decisions on front office personnel. If the team shows some improvement this year, it would not be good to start all over once again.
Browns’ fans are all too familiar with the constant rebuilding process that has cursed the franchise since 1999. Now that it seems like things are looking rosier, it would be a shame to halt the momentum.
For fans hoping for a more active owner, they have their wish. For those who said Lerner didn’t care about the Browns, they no longer have that to complain about.
Now if only someone would pop out of the woodwork to buy the Indians.