Like many other Cleveland Browns' fans I was shocked when I logged on to Twitter in the morning to discover rumors swirling that Randy Lerner was looking to sell the franchise. I was not necessarily surprised by the decision to sell, but more by the out-of-the-blue announcement despite quiet whispers that the team was for sale.
Initially there was fear the new ownership would immediately move the team to a flashy new city (Los Angeles) and the town would yet again be left without their beloved Browns. While technically possible it would be completely unrealistic. First, the Browns are under lease at Cleveland Browns Stadium until 2029. Second, Learner stated he would not sell the team to a group or individual who even hinted about moving the franchise out of Cleveland. Finally, the NFL would have to approve such a move, which after what happened with the original incarnation of the team, is highly unlikely given the fan and community support the team receives.
Problem solved. A sale of the Browns will keep the team in Cleveland.
The next big problem was the prospective buyer, Jimmy Haslam, is currently a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers. A statement was made upon making the investment in the team that he was "1,000 percent a Steelers fan." Of course he is, he just invested a large sum of money to be part owner of a franchise. As much as I bleed orange and brown, if had the opportunity to be a minority owner in say the Buffalo Bills, I would be 1,000 percent a Bills fan too! Haslam is a football fan that wants to own a football team. The Browns are available, it is a business opportunity, and the Browns will become a passion.
A problem with Randy Lerner is he never wanted to own the Cleveland Browns to begin with. His father Al Lerner did, and asked that his family wait at least 10 years after his death before selling the team. Al died in 2002. As much as the Learner family are great people and heavily involved in philanthropic efforts in the community, the passion to be the owner of the Cleveland Browns was not there for Randy. The lackluster involvement, and eventually the hiring of Mike Holmgren to handle all aspects of the organization provided witness to that lack of interest.
When the deal is complete, Browns' fans should have an ownership that is as passionate about the team as we the fans are. Ownership should be involved and work toward putting the best team on the field. While Lerner was willing to open his pocketbook when needed, there was no clear guidance coming from the top. That lack of vision led to the revolving door of coaches and players. Hopefully that will change once the new regime is locked in place.
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