CHICAGO — It’s official. Just before 10:40 Tuesday morning, Jimmy Haslam III became a majority owner of the Cleveland Browns on a unanimous vote at the Owners Meeting in Chicago. By 1:30 p.m. Haslam made his first move as new owner.
“With us coming in and taking more of an active role, Mike Holmgren has decided to affective at the end of the year to leave the Cleveland Browns and to retire,” Haslam said.
Mike Holmgren served as President of the Cleveland Browns and represented the team at the Owners’ Meetings. Haslam has hired Joe Banner to serve as CEO of the Cleveland Browns. Banner and Holmgren will work together until the end of the year to make sure the change at CEO will be seamless.
“His track record in Philadelphia is outstanding and his commitment, his work, drive, passion and intelligence to help make the Browns a winner is something we are very excited about,” said Haslam.
As for the rest of the Browns organization, Haslam said Joe Banner becoming CEO will be the only personnel change he will make.
“At the end of the year, we’ll evaluate everybody in the organization, just like we will at the end of every year whether we win the Super Bowl or two games,” he said.
Early on Tuesday, Haslam showed up at the JW Marriott in downtown Chicago, waiting to be voted in as the Browns new owner. He smiled and shook hands with several other owners before the vote even took place.
“It’s a very exciting day for our family and one like I guess like a lot of families, we’ve dreamed about for a long, long time,” said Haslam.
He was invited into the Owners Meeting just after 10:40 a.m., when the vote was official. He walked into the ballroom to a round of applause.
“Well, it’s exciting and fun, on the other hand there is 100 people in the room, they are all looking at you and you are not sure whether to smile or look up or look down, but it’s very exciting,” Haslam said.
“I think it is going to be a great situation for Cleveland, for their fans, for their players’ coaches and the National Football League,” said Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank.
Haslam is still a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he hopes that ownership will be over by the end of the month.
“We’re real close to selling the majority of it and I think that will happen at the end of the month, and I hope the balance would happen by the end of the year,” said Haslam.
The easy part is out of the way, now the hard part begins, turning around the Cleveland Browns. Haslam already has a head start.
“We’re going to do everything we possibly can and work as hard as we possibly can to bring a winning team to the fans of Cleveland,” he said.