Jimmy Haslam Unanimously Approved as Browns Owner, Makes His First Move
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: October 16, 2012
Two widely presumed Cleveland Browns-related scenarios came to pass this morning. New owner Jimmy Haslam was unanimously approved by the NFL owners at the NFL owners meeting in Chicago. Haslam's first move after the confirmation of his $1 billion purchase? Relieving second-year team president Mike Holmgren of his duties. Holmgren will officially retire at the end of the season; former Eagles president Joe Banner is reported to be his replacement in executive leadership. The Browns organization has yet to make a formal announcement, but sources with intimate knowledge of the situation have confirmed the transition.
The exit of Holmgren isn't particularly surprising. Haslam, a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, explained that his number one priority in purchasing the team was to "bring winning back to Cleveland". After Super Bowl runs in Green Bay and Seattle (as coach and general manager), Holmgren's lack of success in Cleveland, partiularly a .263 winning percentage, has been an unpleasant surprise. Although team personnel and a brutal division (all three fellow AFC North opponents made the playoffs last year) undoubtedly impacted the team's weak 2010 and 2011 seasons, but it looks like Haslam holds Holmgren responsible for its subpar performance. Holmgren's inability to trade for St. Louis' second round pick in the 2012 draft, (a pick that Washington famously secured) and drafting Brandon Weeden as a Robert Griffin III stand-in, was another blemish on his record.
The near-immediate leak is a sure sign that Haslam is unafraid of sweeping change within the organization, leaving Holmgren hires Pat Shurmer and Tom Heckert in state of uncertainty. In a press conference shortly after his confirmation, Haslam explained that for head coach Shurmur to keep his job, he must show that the team is heading in a "positive direction" over the final ten games of the season. There has been no official word on general manager Heckert, but today's changes have surely put him on notice.
Change has been a constant since the Browns returned to the NFL, as Shurmur is the sixth head coach in just over a decade, but if Haslam is as set on succeeding as he has indicated thus far, perhaps stability is just on the horizon.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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