Browns brace for arrival of new boss
The Cleveland Browns have reportedly been sold for over $1 billion. (Adam Wiepert/Reuters/Files)
The boss will be in town Friday to observe his new team at practice for the first time when Jimmy Haslam III visits the Browns' facility in Berea, Ohio, for his introductory press conference.
Haslam will purchase the Cleveland football franchise for more than $1 billion from the Lerner Family and principal owner Randy Lerner, who has operated with controlling interest of the team since his father died in 2002. Haslam must be approved by NFL owners, requiring 21 current owners approve him before the transaction becomes official. That vote could be taken at a meeting in October unless a special session is called to expedite the sale.
Haslam III is currently divesting his minority ownership stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers. His indoctrination as a league owner with the Steelers in 2008 included a detailed review by league finance committee members and his pending approval is expected without complication.
The 57-year-old is CEO of Pilot Flying-J Travel Centers. A Knoxville, Tenn., resident and alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Haslam is the brother of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam.
As part of the team's new front-office structure, Haslam is expected to name former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner as team president. That title currently belongs to Mike Holmgren, who said last week he expected some uncertainty with a change in ownership but believed his "future is bright."
General manager Tom Heckert, who left the Philadelphia Eagles where he had worked with -- and reportedly clashed with -- Banner, admitted Wednesday he was unsure of his place in the organization.
"Until we sit down with the new owner, no one's really sure what's going to happen," Heckert said.
Banner also has a connection with coach Pat Shurmur -- who was QB coach with the Eagles before joining the Rams under Steve Spagnuolo and then being hired by the Browns -- and Cleveland's first-year offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Shurmur said Thursday as news of the sale being finalized broke that his focus won't change, and he doesn't expect players to be distracted.
"I have no fear. I have no fear about any of that because I trust my coaches, I trust the players and I've watched the work they've done based on the conversation of this last week," Shurmur said. "I've watched the work that they're doing and I have no fear. I think we're moving full steam ahead. That doesn't bother me one bit at this point at this point. My concern is getting this team ready to play and our players understand that message and they are doing a good job."