CHICAGO - A new era in Cleveland Browns football began Tuesday morning in Chicago when Jimmy Haslam III was unanimously approved as the new owner of the Cleveland Browns.
Haslam exited his waiting room and walked about 50 feet into the owners' general meeting where he was greeted by a warm applause before being unanimously approved by the 32 team representatives here at the JW Marriott in downtown Chicago.
Jimmy Haslam's first changes to the Browns will came quickly when he named former Philadelphia Eagles team President Joe Banner as the teams CEO.
Browns Team President Mike Holmgren was informed of the change after Sunday's win over the Bengals. Holmgren will retire at the end of the year and work closely with Banner when he assumes his new role on October 25th. The remainder of Holmgren's contract will be bought out by former Browns Owner Randy Lerner as part of the agreement with Jimmy Haslam upon purchasing the team. Haslam declined to comment on the financial terms on the arrangement.
Haslam did not exit the general meeting room during the first short break of the day, but Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blanks commented on the ownership change.
"I think it's important to the franchise. Cleveland has a very storied history and Jimmy is committed to the right kind of things...You treat your fans as your customers and the players as your business associates and you'll be in a good place. I'm sure Jimmy will do that."
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Haslam said Holmgren has decided to leave the team and retire at the end of the year, but Holmgren is still committed to helping the team transition.
Effective Oct. 25, Joe Banner, the former Philadelphia Eagles team president, steps in as the Browns CEO. Banner will be in charge of the day to day operations.
"This will be the only personnel change made this year," Haslam said. "I think it's important for our ownership to be present and involved."
Haslam wants to take what works well from others, while still doing what works best for the team.
"It's been a tough year for our team...We've played hard every game... The Browns played their best football in the fourth quarter Sunday," said Haslam during the news conference. "We will make mistakes and bad decisions. But hopefully, they're not fatal and we will correct them quickly."
As for Haslam's relationship with Holmgren, he thinks two or three years down the road if he has football questions, he can comfortably ask his friend for guidance and get a positive response.
Banner will be introduced as the team's CEO at a 10 a.m. news conference Wednesday in Berea. On Thursday or Friday, Holmgren will hold a conference to chat with the media about his departure.
"I hope the same of the Cleveland Browns is an asset for my family forever," said Haslam. "We have the drive, passion and intelligence to make the Browns a winner."
Haslam, a 58-year-old Tennessee businessman, reportedly reached an agreement in August with now former owner Randy Lerner to buy the Browns for $1 billion. Haslam bought minority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.
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