It was a surprise, and yet it wasn’t, that new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced on Tuesday that team president Mike Holmgren will retire at the end of the year.
Holmgren was hired to be the surrogate owner for Randy Lerner, who wanted nothing to do with being an owner. Now that the team is owned by an owner who wants to be an owner, the Browns no longer need a guy who is essentially pretending to be the owner.
That’s pretty much what the new owner said on Tuesday.
“Mike has decided with our becoming the owner that his role would obviously change a lot,” Haslam said. “Mike was brought in to be the President and I think in a lot of ways the de facto owner and with us coming in and taking a more active role, Mike has decided to, effective at the end of the year, to leave the Cleveland Browns and to retire. Mike will work very closely with us over the next three or four months to ensure that this transition goes as well as possible. Mike and I have had numerous long talks and I know that he has been and still is committed to doing everything he can to help make the Cleveland Browns a better football team.”
What isn’t known is whether and to what extent Holmgren will be paid beyond the end of the season, or whether he had the kind of cash-and-carry contract that Bill Parcells had with the Dolphins, allowing him to leave with full pay upon a change in ownership. It’s likely a detail that was covered when Holmgren took the job, given that it should have been obvious that Lerner’s disdain for doing the things an owner does could eventually result in Lerner deciding not to own the team at all.