The Cleveland Browns have a proud football history, but that’s exactly it… history. The Browns and Cleveland sports in general have struggled for decades. They watched LeBron James lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Finals appearance then jet off to South Beach where he finally got to hoist the championship hardware. In the 90s they watched the Browns flee to Baltimore then win a championship.
But Jimmy Haslam III, who just bought the Cleveland Browns from Randy Lerner for over $1 billion is excited about the opportunity to be a part of Cleveland football.
“As soon as I got out of my car, the gentleman who grabbed my bags started telling me how serious Cleveland takes its football, how important it is to win, how much the Browns mean to them,” Haslam said. “We’re in Cleveland now and we’re fired up.”
Haslam is the CEO of the Pilot Flying J travel centers but he isn’t coming in expecting to start making changes and shaking things up. He has said he is there to “listen and learn.” Mike Holmgren and Haslam had dinner Thursday night to talk about the organization.
“This is a critical time of year for the team and we don’t want to be a distraction. The story after today needs to be about the Browns, not about the change in ownership,” Haslam said diverting attention from himself.
Haslam though isn’t a new comer to the NFL, he’s owned 10-16 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers though he has negotiated divesting his share amongst the Rooneys. Art Rooney released the following statement welcoming Haslam to the NFL owners club.
“Jimmy Haslam and his family have been great partners in the Steelers ownership for the past three years. 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 responded by praising the Rooneys and calling them a class act and their commitment to the Steelers and the league and hopes to model the Browns after the Steelers.
“We’ll care about the Browns, the league and winning,” Haslam said. “And we’re also going to build through the draft. Rarely did you see the Steelers build through free agency. They did it through the draft, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”