Every sale of a major business results in the death of a small forest of trees, with extensive paperwork addressing every possible term and wrinkle and contingency. With the Browns being the first team sold since the dramatic proliferation of concussion lawsuits filed by former players, the paperwork generated between current owner Randy Lerner (pictured) and future owner Jimmy Haslam could provide strong clues as to the league’s actual assessment of the potential for significant financial exposure.
The documents will account for all pending liabilities of the Browns, including the concussion lawsuits. And the purchase price most likely will be adjusted (i.e., dropped) to reflect an agreed-to estimate of the expected size of the check that each team eventually may have to cut to settle the concussion cases.
Given that Haslam already owns a piece of the Steelers and that the Lerner-Haslam deal has been brokered at the league-office level, it’s fairly safe to say that the Browns paperwork will reflect fairly accurately what the league believes the outcome will be.
None of it may matter, given that the paperwork won’t be released publicly. But the information is out there, just as it was that Lerner was in the process of selling the team. If someone with access to the information decides to share with someone in the media the information anonymously, there’s a chance we’ll all eventually get a look not necessarily at the league’s cards, but at the league’s candid opinion as to the value of the league’s hand.