Late Again, NFL Leaves Browns Hanging Out to Dry Without Owner

I made jokes about it a few weeks ago, and since that time I’ve also heard others jump on this same bandwagon, including Andy Baskin on the radio. Can someone tell me again why Jimmy Haslam isn’t officially officially the owner of this team? I don’t know what Jimmy Haslam would do that he wasn’t doing already, but it is pure lunacy to think that in this day and modern age that the NFL couldn’t at least get a fax agreement on the sale of the Browns to a guy who has already been a partial owner of one of the league’s most respected franchises.

Maybe it’s just another meaningless detail in a miserable season that was going to be miserable regardless, but the perception out here is that this team is as directionless (or moreso) than it has ever been at least partially because Jimmy Haslam isn’t the owner yet. If the entire organization wasn’t full of lame ducks before, now that the team is 0-5 it is appearing that the list of injured quackers is growing quickly.

And all Browns fans get for the privilege is to hear a billionaire with his hands tied saying that he won’t rush into personnel decisions. Maybe that’s the right call, and maybe he was going to go about his business that way all along, but to consider that the NFL put this team in limbo once again is just too much to take if you really think about it. 

This is the same NFL that gave the Browns not nearly enough time or draft picks to jump back into the league for the 1999 season. I will always feel like the NFL has abused the extreme loyalty of the Cleveland Browns fans, both in moving the team and in the haphazard way the team was brought back. It’s far too long ago to still blame expansion for the way the Browns are today, and the NFL’s current stagnation with regard to Haslam isn’t anywhere near as big a deal, but it is reminiscent.

It’s reminiscent of another bad time and the NFL should conduct its business better and more efficiently today than they did back then. It wouldn’t take much. How about an email? A phone conference? You could even send out a physical mailer using the United States Postal Service. Bottom line is that in another awful year on the field, the NFL didn’t have to give Browns fans something to worry about off of it and render the team’s offices in Berea “in flux” at best.

Maybe they were too busy with the referee negotiations…

Jimmy Haslam Browns (Joshua Gunter/Plain Dealer)

  • I agree that it is supremely dumb that we’re waiting on paperwork in the iPad/Skype era. But also, what’s the hurry? I’m pretty sure if Haslem wanted to fire Coach Pat, he could get Randy Lerner to do it.

    However, I do disagree with this: “This is the same NFL that gave the Browns not nearly enough time or
    draft picks to jump back into the league for the 1999 season.”

    They had a 14 extra draft picks their first two years (, and they could’ve had even more. (Ditka!). They were just inept and couldn’t capitalize (though that feeds into the “not nearly enough time” part).

    Also, this article cracks me up:

  • mgbode

    hmm, but the NFL also severely handicapped the pool of expansion drafted players from other teams, which killed our chances for building any type of veteran presence or depth. i agree that they handled the drafts about as poorly as possible.

    in addition, I believe Craig was referring to the Pluto-point that the team had to rush together to form an organizational structure and chain just to be ready in time for that process, which may have helped lead to the poorly executed beginning.

  • mgbode

    count me in the “what’s the rush” category. the delay allows Haslam to use this season to figure out which FO members he wants to keep and which he wants to root out (along with the coaches, etc.) while also allowing him to work to organize a structure behind the scenes (with apparently Joe Banner).

    we do not want a repeat of the wasted year of Holmgren+Mangini marriage, so it is even possible that Haslam requested this delay in order to give himself time to do all of this background work.


    however, I will note that it seems odd that we seem to be the only team to change ownership mid-season (Art announcing the move in October, now Haslam gaining control in October).

  • Dwight Clark certainly messed up the first few drafts of the Browns, a trend that continued all the way until Tom Heckert arrived, but if you go back and look at what the NFL did for Carolina and Jacksonville as expansion teams, compared to what they did for the Browns, you’ll see the NFL did them no favors.

    The other owners were also scared off by the fact that Carolina and Jacksonville were in championship games so quickly, they didn’t want to give the Browns that same advantage (laughable now, yes, with hindsight, but a real issue at the time).

    It’s almost as if the NFL realized that just giving Cleveland a team would be enough, so why give them anything else?

    Terry Pluto did a good job of laying it all out in his book, False Start:

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The NFL continues to not do this city any favors but heck it’s just a reason to have a big old party and welcome the latest addition to the Billionaires Boys Club.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Certainly there is no need to hurry clearly the only place this team is destined to go is the bottom of the standings, oh wait, we’re already there after just five weeks. Anyways there isn’t a need to rush but there also isn’t a need to let this team and city languish like a dried up raisin in the sun to make a decision that we all know is coming. I refuse to believe Mr. Haslam wasn’t doing his homework long before we ever heard his name mentioned as the potential new owner. You don’t spend a billion dollars overnight and not have been working on it long before hand.
    Will it be easy heck no the ties that bind run deep between Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur but the chopping has to start sometime. At the same time you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water so I’m in favor of some sort of start to the true rebirth of this franchise. (I’m cliched out now)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Ben Randy Lerner doesn’t want to do anything with this team and hasn’t since his father died. I seriously doubt in the last week he’d be the guy up for it anyways.

  • mgbode

    are we languishing? outside the team’s record (of course)

    what if he was named immediately at the end of July? too late to fire everybody and start over, no? so, he likely goes “on record” with a bunch of fluff statements about the current FO and coaching staff and then, if he decides he wants to start fresh, has to backtrack completely after only 1 season? and go completely against what he has stated about stability in an organization?

    as opposed to coming in October. well, the season is halfway done. let’s just assess things now (as if he hasn’t been doing that already) and make an announcement once the season is over (which looks to be thanksgiving the way we are going).

    much cleaner from a PR perspective and allows him to control his message and not start off his ownership with a stain on the record.

  • Hopwin

    An aside: I love the picture of Haslam cup-checking Weeden. So emblematic for this franchise.

  • Craig, maybe moving over half a billion dollars is more involved than just having a meeting. I don’t know, maybe making one-sided conjectures about how you think this and you think that is irresponsible journalism. Are you a businessman? Do you know what the NFL and/or Jim Haslem have to do for this process? I bet you also ave some of these same complaints about the Government, yet don’t take the time to find out that maybe these things happen because of rules set in place to protect the whole of the organization. How about applauding the NFL for taking their time and really doing their homework to make sure nothing comes up to bite them in the long run. That is why they run one of the largest business ventures on the planet and you write for a locally known website. Rookie ball, sir rookie ball.

  • Hopwin

    After listening to Holmgren tell everyone “this is NOT the same Browns” for the last three years (when it clearly has been the same old Browns) I am of the opinion that Haslam needs to get in here and SHOW us that this is not the same old Browns.

    I understand though that most people in Cleveland drink the official Kool-Aid (probably think it is the dawn of a new era for the Indians too) but c’mon. How many times are you going to let the Browns punch you in the face in a drunken rage and the next morning promise that they’ve changed?

  • I have to ask: do you drive a Dodge Stratus?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well I don’t know about you but losing is detrimental to my health even if it happens for a team I frankly refuse to accept as the true “Cleveland Browns.” I look forward to the day when I can type their name and feel an ounce of pride and joy until then this resurrected abomination will not be spoken of by name.

    I don’t have a problem with a decision being made I just don’t see much of a point when the decision is becoming increasingly clearer with each passing week. That being said from a PR perspective it probably makes the most sense to wait I would just prefer PR taking a back seat to winning regardless of the cost.

  • mgbode

    not sure how you used that post above as a jumping off point for that rant but it is a solid rant. i won’t be opposed to Haslam coming in and putting his people in place. my only point is that it is easier/cleaner for him to be able to do it without having to falsely claim that those people in place are safe (which if done over the summer, he would have had to do).

  • Garry_Owen

    Cool story.

  • Garry_Owen

    No rush. It’s a fait accompli.
    I’m not going to play the victim on this one.

  • Since before the season started, I assumed (dangerous, I know) that the Browns would be floundering until around the by week, and by floundering I also assumed we would be something like 2-7. After that, maybe we would get our crap together and win a few more to end the season around 6-10. That being said, the timing here makes a little bit of sense, considering the actual record, and the ability of the team to dissappoint week in and week out. Haslem has had the opportunity to watch and grade the team from top to bottom in a real season format. We have been a lame duck organization for 14 years, so that cant be an excuse this year. I would bet my daughters lunch money for tomorrow ($1.75) that Shurmur will be shown the door during the bye week, and many more fun moves will continue during the later part of the season.
    Haslem can claim that he didn’t own the team whiile they free fell into the worst losing streak in team history, but rather that he was the savoir that ended the tail spin…

  • Stephen A. Smith

    Thank God that there is someone out here to protect the internet from irresponsible journalism.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Im not sure if Craig is the one that post what pictures go with which story but who ever it is probably gets a chuckle everytime they use this picture.

  • GingerHammer



  • REV57

    AMAN!!! The NFL has been abusing us since Art(MONEYMAN) ran and we took matters into our own hands. They hate that kind of stuff and want to punish us for it. They think people will just keep throwing money at them!

  • steve-o

    Freaking hilarious. Pretty much sums it up. Well said, sir.

  • Sir Rookie Ball? Hey, Craig, you got knighted. Congrats.

  • What a great and under-the-radar skit from SNL.

  • Big Z

    It’s easy for the NFL to forget about the Browns. Once Jimmy calls ’em and says “hey, what about that sale?” They’ll be all like “oh yeah, the Browns right? Yeah, you’re good.”

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    This is important because every day the sale is delayed is another day for Jimmy Haslam to come to his senses and back out. We need him locked in. I ain’t sayin’ we a gold digga…

  • Shouldn’t you be yelling that, Stephen A.?

  • BrownsFan4Ever

    SSDD in Brownstown.