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Forbes: Browns are “bigger concern for NFL” than Patriots

The New England Patriots may have just released a budding superstar-turned-alleged murderer, but Forbes’ Mike Ozanian feels that the Cleveland Browns are a bigger issue for the NFL given their recent run of misfortune off of the field. This one, per Ozanian, starts at the top of the food chain.

 “The Browns should be one of football’s flagship small-market franchises,” writes Ozanian. “But the Browns now appear on the verge of imploding. Haslam’s Pilot Flying J, his source of wealth, is being investigated by the FBI for defrauding customers. Three of the truck stop company’s employees have entered guilty pleas. And credit ratings for Pilot Flying J have been put on negative watch for possible downgrade by both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.”

The Forbes column touches on the Browns players who joined the Browns after Haslam bought the team and have already gotten in trouble with the law. Quentin Groves, signed as a free agent, was arrested in April and charged with solicitation in a prostitution sting. Seventh-round draft pick Armonty Bryant was busted in May for driving under the influence. And, most recently, undrafted free agent Ausar Walcott was released by the Browns after he was arrested for an attempted murder earlier this week.

Ozanian adds that despite having the lowest average ticket price in the league, FirstEnergy (formerly Cleveland Browns) Stadium is being filled to only 90% of capacity. Forbes has pegged the team’s revenue at $258 million for the 2011 season, tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 20th in the NFL.

“Don’t be shocked if Haslam unloads his team,” says Ozanian. “It might be the best thing for both the Browns and the NFL.”

[Related: It’s been all quiet on the Weeden front this off-season]

  • mgbode

    what gets me is that MLB and NBA have had histories of picking bad owners for teams and not being careful enough with their financial checks. the NFL has been, by far, the most stringent club to get into.

    how is it the one time the NFL seems to screw up the background check we are the ones getting screwed?

  • Chris Mc

    If ever in the history of the NFL there were a case to be made for a team (besides Green Bay) to be owned by the city, this is it.

  • Rocko

    Right on Chris!

    Get the city on board!!

  • boomhauertjs

    There’s a better chance of an Art Modell statue being built in Cleveland than public ownership of the Browns.

  • LesFleursDuMal

    Winning solves everything.

  • RGB

    Green Bay’s ownership structure is a violation of the current NFL league rules. They were grandfathered in the mid-80’s.
    Current rules stipulate a limit of 32 owners for a team and one of those owners must hold a minimum 30% stake.
    Sorry guys.

  • JHop

    The only reason the Patriots are in less of a situation than the Browns is that they were able to drop their problem literally and figuratively and essentially have it go away. The Browns, on the other hand, have their problem with the owner, who can’t simply be released or traded away. It’s two completely different scenarios.

    In terms of the player problems the Browns have had, 1) none of the alleged crimes committed by any of the aforementioned players are nearly as serious as what has happened in New England and elsewhere in the past, and 2) most of these (Bryant & Walcott) were committed by players who were not even going to make the final roster. None of the key players on the Browns problems have had any serious off the field issues – and don’t try to argue with me that drug use is a ‘serious’ issue either.

  • stacykoon

    I had season tickets starting in 1999 but was forced to cancel them for this season. Had a run in with one of the ticket reps in middle of last season while attempting to pay money on the deliquent account of a friend. I made a complaint to the director of guest relations regarding my experience and she gave me a call. After our initial phone call, she promised to call me back. I never got a call back. I sent her an email as a reminder and she blew me off. I had no choice but to cancel my season tickets. It’s a matter of principal. For a team struggling to fill seats, you would think their own ticket staff would be a lot more courteous.

  • JHop

    If the franchise is somehow disadvantaged from all of this – structurally, financially, or otherwise – I wonder how much blame falls on the league as a whole. That is, in approving Haslem as owner, does the league carry any liability if the franchise is affected negatively in any way? Is the responsibility to ‘protect the shield’ a two-way street between the league and its members/teams?

  • mgbode

    plenty of blame falls on their shoulders, but I don’t think that any of the fallout will get to them.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Said it under another topic, NFL hates Cleveland!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This is like the fox guarding the chickens. The same group, the NFL, who allowed the Browns to be sold to the Lerners who rushed the new franchise who helped develop a cookie cutter stadium and who have now sold the team to Jimmy Haslam. Great track record.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s no wonder the team can’t do better they can’t even find an owner. As far as Hernandez and New England goes you can’t hold the teams accountable for what individual players do if this were the case the entire NFL would be in trouble.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They did you a favor!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What is this mythical winning of which you speak?

  • simond

    sell to dan gilbert! he already owns downtown cleveland, and most of downtown detroit

    i recently read that he’s the richest man in michigan at 3.5 billion

  • Harv 21

    Wait a sec. The main prob is potential ownership instability, not the felony arrest of a street FA who’s only attended mincamps or a DUI. The NFL did the matchmaking for the owner, vetted him and steered him to Banner, a total stranger to him until league people made the intros. Banner brought in Lombardi, who with him picks the DUI and signs the bar fighter.

    Sure, they’re concerned about the future of Haslam’s ownership, and they should be. But riddle me this: wherein lies the fault, and who provides the cure?

  • architrance

    Why talk about this train wreck on Cavs Christmas?

  • Paul Marsh

    That sucks. I’ve had a pretty good experiences with my ticket rep (Lisa Miller).

  • RGB

    Frowns would have an aneurysm if Gilbert owned two Cleveland teams.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No thanks his rebuilds take entirely to long but at least his pockets are getting filled!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    http://www.blogcdn.com/blog.moviefone.com/media/2010/08/cobra2.jpg

    COBRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    LoL Cavs Christmas! ^5

  • Lee Nicholas

    Hey we win!! Just on a quarterly schedule. I mean… So what we’ve had more players with DUIs than winning seasons in the expansion era?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t think Charlie Sheen at his most drug induced coma type stage would say WINNING about Cleveland in any form or fashion. And this includes Major League however many it is now, 4?

  • Hopwin

    Heard that lawyer on 92.3 this morning (David Lynch?) and it sounds like Jimmy borrowed the money to buy the Browns from Pilot? If so that means the Feds can freeze transactions related to and then seize them right?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Speaking of movies it does seem like Cleveland is becoming the midwestern Hollywood these days. Which reminds me anyone seen ScarJo around I think she’s the cats meow?

  • Chris Mc

    It’s all about money. If Goodell et al decide that it’s in the best interest of the league (and primarily their wallets) to have the city own the Browns, the rules will change awfully quickly.

  • dan

    A publicly owned team like the Packers can never threaten to move, so it can never use that threat to extort the vast public subsidies that new stadiums built with taxpayer money provide, so it will never, ever be more profitable for the NFL to allow a second team to be owned the way the Packers are.

  • Harv 21

    oh. thx

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s what I do!

  • Garry_Owen

    Not so sure I want the geniuses who run the City of Cleveland running the Cleveland Browns.

    No. I’m positive I don’t want that.

  • Garry_Owen

    Principal Skinner?

  • Garry_Owen

    Great. Now the Browns will be run by the IRS.

  • Chris Mc

    I don’t understand the argument here. Without an owner pocketing millions each year, the proceeds from the team pay for the stadium itself.

    If the league collects a flat fee from each team to operate, it doesn’t matter where the money comes from.

    If the teams pay a percentage of revenue, then the Packers still pay a lot more into the league than the Browns do. According to the fan cost index, Green Bay is murdering Cleveland in revenue, which would also be a plus for the NFL.

    http://www.fancostexperience.com/pages/fcx/blog_pdfs/entry0000018_pdf000.pdf

  • Chris Mc

    Mark Murphy is not, and has never been, a politician in Green Bay or anywhere else.

  • Garry_Owen

    The Packers are publicly held through sales of stock. Not owned by the city.

  • Chris Mc

    It’s not legitimate stock.The stock is basically a bragging right and used to raise capital for improvements.

    http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=aff959d0-5a85-4c6d-ad35-69d405a06b76

  • Chris Mc

    Also, I’ll agree in the sense that it’s not “owned by the city”. Technically it’s a non-profit with a board of directors.

  • Garry_Owen

    Okay. That was my point. They are not owned by the city of Green Bay; and in no way would I ever want the Browns owned by the city of Cleveland – which is what I thought you were suggesting.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No audits with every win for fans in attendance?