Lerner Makes Appearance at Browns Practice
BEREA, Ohio — One day after the bombshell dropped that Randy Lerner has been in fluid negotiations to sell the organization to 58-year-old Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam III, the Browns owner was in Berea to watch the team’s first official practice.
Learner was seen just after the gates opened to the public with team president Mike Holmgren walking through the practice field as the team was going through individual drills.
Lerner did not address the media about the ongoing talks at Saturday’s practice, but in a statement released by the organization on Friday, Lerner said the following:
“We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary.”
Lerner has been in control of the organization since 2001 when his father, Al, died. He then paid $530 million for the franchise after the NFL granted Cleveland a team in 1999.
Although the talks are being held behind closed doors, one thing that is known is that the team will not be relocating.
“The Cleveland Browns are not going anywhere,” Holmgren said. “It’s my understanding that from the get-go that’s been one of the stipulations, and both principles understand that.”
This wouldn’t be Haslam’s first taste of the National Football League. He became a minority owner of the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, after the Rooney family expressed an interest. As a business tycoon, he has been the Chief Operating Officer of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers since 2001, based in Knoxville, Tennessee.
His father, James Haslam Jr., started the operation in 1958. According to Forbes magazine it is currently the 11th largest privately owned company in the United States. His younger brother, William, is the current governor of Tennessee.