After a unanimous vote by the NFL owners at a meeting this morning in Chicago, Jimmy Haslam formally took ownership of the Cleveland Browns. This afternoon, Haslam held a press conference to discuss Cleveland, the football operations going forward, and Mike Holmgren’s future, among others. Our own Brendan P transcribed his opening remarks:
What we’ve come to understand since August 3 when we were introduced in Berea, Ohio is that it’s made even more special by the fact that it’s the Cleveland Browns. I had always heard what a great football town and football area Cleveland is and Northeast Ohio is, but what we’ve experienced since August 3 has been nothing short of phenomenal.
This is truly one of the great iconic NFL brands. If you think back to Paul Brown, and then of course, arguably the greatest NFL player of all time, Jim Brown, it’s a very special place.
As we have said on numerous occasions, we are going to do everything we possibly can and work as hard as we possibly can to bring a winning team to the fans of Cleveland — whether they’re in Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, or one of the many Browns backers around the country. We’re going to work hard for them.
Somebody asked me the other night if I was excited to win the first game. I said of course we were, it’s a relief, but I was excited for the players and the coaches who work hard and put a lot of time in and candidly catch all the grief. But I was really most excited for our fans, as we left the stadium an hour or so after the game, there were still thousands of people around. And if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought we won the AFC Championship instead of winning our first game in 11 months.
It’s a great town, great football community. And we feel very privileged to now own the team. It’s really an asset of the community and we’re going to do everything we can to increase the value of that asset. And candidly, the way you do that is you put a winning team on the field.
Mike Holmgren – I’ll be honest, I had never met Mike until the evening of August 2nd. Of course, knew of him, knew the famous Super Bowl winning coach.
I’ve spent more time with Mike than anybody in the organization and he’s been kind enough to answer hundreds and hundreds of questions about the NFL and pro football. Mike has decided that with our becoming the owner, that his role would obviously change a lot. Mike was brought in to be the President, and I think, in a lot of ways, the de facto owner. With us coming in and taking a more active role, Mike has decided to, effective at the end of the year, to leave the Cleveland Browns and to retire. Mike will work very closely with us over the next three or four months to ensure that this transition goes as well as possible. Mike and I have had numerous long talks and I know that he has been, and still is, committed to doing everything he can to help make the Cleveland Browns a better football team.
We are going to bring in Joe Banner. Joe will be the CEO of the team, that will be effective on October 25th. Joe and Mike will work together over the next three, three and a half months until the end of the season, to transition in what I will call a seamless fashion, to do everything we can to bring a winner to the Cleveland Browns. You think about the experience that the two of them have, it’s probably over 50 years of experience in the NFL and I don’t think we could have two better people to help us turn this transition around.
This is the only personnel change we’re going to make until the end of the season. And I am not at all saying we’re going to make changes at the end of the season. But this is the only personnel change we’re going to make. And candidly, we thought with Mike deciding the role no longer fit him, we thought it was important to bring somebody in so that we do have a good transition so we’re able to hit the ground running after the end of the season.