CLEVELAND — When Browns President Mike Holmgren on Friday confirmed that owner Randy Lerner was in the process of selling his controlling interest in the team, a slew of questions followed about the team’s future, specifically: whether or not they’d stay in Cleveland.
Holmgren was prepared to reassure wandering minds.
“The Cleveland Browns aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “They’re going to stay.”
Holmgren further clarified that Lerner was engaged in negotiations with buyer Jimmy Haslam III on the agreed stipulation that the team would not leave Cleveland.
But you can’t blame die-hard dawgpounders for briefly reliving the relocation debacle back in 1995, when their beloved Browns were shipped off to Baltimore for the 1996 NFL season.
The move by then-owner Art Modell caused a firestorm of criticism, with protesters demanding the team’s history, name and colors remain in Cleveland.
Legal action would later secure a compromise between Browns supporters and Modell, with a deal that allowed Modell to keep the Browns’ player and staff contracts, while starting a brand new franchise that would be named the Baltimore Ravens.
The Browns kept their legacy, and after a three-year “deactivation” period, returned to their hometown in 1999.
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