There’s a strange sort of irony in Cleveland today, as the passing of former Browns owner Art Modell coincides with the unofficial launch of new owner Jimmy Haslam’s tenure with the team.
Yes, Haslam still hasn’t been officially approved by the league. But Randy Lerner has surrendered the keys and left town and Haslam already was a minority owner of the Steelers and it’s just a matter of time before the owners give the thumb’s up to Haslam.
As explained by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Haslam brings real hope to Cleveland. Though Browns fans initially were leery about his Pittsburgh ties, they have since seemed to accept that a guy who seems to care deeply about building a competitor will be far better than his predecessor, who didn’t seem to care at all.
In the short term, turmoil is lurking. Cabot believes that team president Mike Holmgren and his regime will be gone, with former Eagles president Joe Banner (who may be wearing a Laura Quinn-style Browns-Eagles jersey today) helping Haslam build a new organization. Barring the kind of success in 2012 that would give Haslam no choice but to embrace the men responsible for it, look for major changes to come in Cleveland after the coming season.
It may take time to make it all come together. Over the long haul, however, Browns fans may have much more to celebrate than the single one-and-done playoff appearance since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.