The Sale of Browns to Jimmy Haslam III – What Does this Mean? – Part One
Current Browns owner Randy Lerner is in the process of selling a majority of the team to Jimmy Haslam III. There will be several corresponding ramifications for the franchise – from the top down. Will these be positive, negative, or status quo? Time will only tell, but it’s never too early to speculate.
Possible Changes with Owner:
Pro (of the new owner) – Haslam was a Cowboys and Colts (as a Peyton Manning supporter) fan growing up and has been recently quoted as Steelers fan. He is a Tennessee Volunteer donor to the football team – plain and simple, Jimmy is a football fan. It will be refreshing to see a person in charge of the Cleveland Browns who has a strong love of the game. Many fans felt Randy Lerner lacked passion and wanted no part of the Browns day-to-day activities and assigned others to complete these tasks; this will not be the case with Jimmy Haslam.
He is also the CEO of Pilot Flying J (a trucking company and traveling center), which has seen success financially since he took the business over from his father in 2001. They saw a merger in 2010 (from Pilot and Flying J to become one company), acquired Maximum Petroleum in 2012, and opened several new stations nation-wide. From these facts, one would have to believe Jimmy is a good businessman who knows how to run a company. Along those lines, Browns fans can believe their owner will treat their favorite franchise like a business. Judging from past history, results would likely be positive – Jimmy will put the right people (management, staff, etc.) in position to succeed both personally and as a whole.
Con (of the new owner) – No one knows if he will be meddling like a Jerry Jones/Daniel Snyder type, which could possibly be counter-productive to the teams’ progress. If Haslam feels his way is better than the current way, changes will be made. Some fans fear that he will impede the current regime’s progress by overhauling parts of the organization (to be discussed in the next blog). Likewise, he could possibly attempt to override the general manager in personnel decisions, which could lead to friction in the front office. Jimmy is a smart man who has had financial success recently; many hope this does not go to his head when becoming the majority owner of an NFL franchise.
My take – Although he’s was a recent partial owner the dark side, I am excited for the change in ownership. I love passionate owners, assuming they are knowledgeable and willing to keep their ego in check at the appropriate times. The bottom line is the Cleveland Browns have not been to the playoffs since the season Al Lerner passed away and bequeathed the team to his son Randy. This is the first time in at least a decade (and some may argue even longer) where we will see an owner who wants and loves the opportunity to own a football team. Yes, there may be (and probably will) be growing pains, but I feel the future is as bright as ever for the Browns.
Possible Changes in the Front Office Level:
Sticking with the current regime – One option for the new owner is to keep the front office in tact going forward. The more unlikely scenario leaves Tom Heckert as general manager, Mike Holmgren as president, and Pat Shurmur as head coach. The Browns have not had much success the past two seasons (nine wins and twenty-three losses) but there have been statements made by the front office to expect more victories in 2012. It would be fair of Jimmy Haslam to give these men a chance under his watch – to see if the Browns will go down the path of playing better football and continually improving. However, like many things in the NFL, jobs are not guaranteed.
My take – I believe Haslam will take the next few months to see first hand how the front office performs. Improvement from the day the sale is finalized until the 2012 season concludes should also be noted. Will Pat Shurmur learn from his 2011 mistakes? Does Tom Heckert make a midseason move/acquistion to put the team in a great spot to win going forward? Will the rookies contribute the way they are expected to? I hope the new ownership has a bit of patience (within reason) when it comes to deciding on personnel.