You will forever remember this day, and this time. At about noon on Aug. 2, 2012, Randy Lerner’s tyranny in Cleveland officially crumbled.
Following up on an item from late last week which initially brought apprehension to Cleveland that was followed by joy, it seems the sale of the Browns to Jimmy Haslem is now finalized. The bagillionaire who’s the CEO of Pilot Flying J–which made $17.8 billion last year–has now purchased controlling interest in the team, according to NFL.com.
Haslem will pay more than $1 billion, which is the strongest statement of the NFL’s firm financial backbone. Fans judge franchises by their ability to win games, and subsequently their ability to win championships. But there isn’t always a direct correlation between wins and a steady flow of gushing riches, which is why although they’ll never admit it, businessmen judge teams by their ability to be a profitable business venture.
I hope you were sitting down for that. There may be some empty seats at Browns Stadium (an average of over 8,000 per game last year), but the passion for the team runs deep in Cleveland, even if those rubbery dawg faces are filled with human tears.
Combine the exit of the hated Lerner with the excitement generated by the youth of Trent Richardson and semi-youth of Brandon Weeden, and that passion which leads to the sight of male nipples in December could be energized even further. Just don’t tell anyone that Haslem also has a minority stake in the Steelers.
Former Eagles president Joe Banner will join Haslem’s management team, which puts Mike Holmgren’s future on shaky ground. Forget about that for now, though, because only happy thoughts are allowed in Cleveland today.
This is a new, non-repressive era for the Factory of Sadness that’s hosted a team with a winning record just twice since the Browns returned in 1999. Together, Banner and Haslem hope to see much more of this…
And less of this…