Some quick thoughts on the second round of breaking rumors regarding Randy Lerner’s potential sale of the Cleveland Browns.
A snow storm of information is building and opinions now are sure to change as additional facts come to light. Here’s where I’m at right now:
- It looks like there’s a contingent of Browns fans who are worried about the sale and I can see why. For the past three years Mike Holmgren has been attempting to re-brand the Browns as a stable organization, and we can all agree that successful NFL franchises are, for the most part, stable. There is nothing stable about changing ownership.
- Change makes people nervous. The fans assume they’ve got a stalwart at general manager in Tom Heckert. We’ve always worried about the day Holmgren would walk away from his leadership role, and how the Browns team would react to that change. Would Tom Heckert stay? Would the coaches? What’s the new owner going to think about paying Holmgren $50 million for the job he has?
- The last thing anybody wants is for the team to start all over, for the fifth time in 12 years, especially now that it appears they’re finally moving in the right direction.
- And this is a Browns fan at his/her finest – jumping off the cliff at the mere scent of danger. Let’s not forget, this is the day you have been waiting for. The day when an absentee, aloof, English soccer-loving owner is finally out of you life forever. He has been the constant in all the failed, pathetic football seasons, and we have often remarked that this team will not go anywhere while he has the final word.
- Randy’s father, Al Lerner, brokered the deal to move the Browns to Baltimore so that he could buy the expansion version of the team when they came back. Randy Lerner took over the team after the passing of his father in 2002. Since then he’s operated his inherited Browns as if they are a bothersome adoption. He’d rather throw his endless pit of money at them than oversee and manage true organizational change. Again, we’ve written poems about the day Lerner would finally sell the team and now that day is here.
- Panic button No. 2: The Browns have 16 years remaining on their current lease, but that’s not the reason they’re not moving. The original Browns moved out of town because the city was caught napping while Art Modell negotiated his exit. It ruined his legacy, sparked the relocation of another three NFL teams, and scarred the city of Cleveland and the league deeply. There are too many parties that don’t want to relive that atrocity for it to happen again. Fool me once…
- Apparently the potential buyer, Jimmy Haslam III, currently owns a piece of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is also worrisome to Browns fans. No matter. The Steelers are the only NFL team to win six Lombardi Trophies, so this is actually the complete opposite of a bad situation. Think of the other NFL ownership lineage that could be buying a stake here – names like the Irsays or Irelands. Which organization would you prefer the new ownership to actually come from?
- This is the beginning of the end for Mike Holmgren. We’ve always known he’s longed to return to being infallible in Seattle. This is the chance he’s been waiting for. He has two years left on his contract anyway, so if anything, the buy would only accelerate the inevitable.
- And with that, the fates of the Browns coaches and front office will run the same course they would have had the team not been sold. If Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden are hits, the team will be on the way up and everyone will stay. If they bomb, then Tom Heckert, Pat Shurmur, Holmgren and the rest would probably have been looking for work anyway.
- On the flip side, a drama-free season this will not be. This is business as usual for the Browns.