Haslam insists he’s still “just as involved” with the Browns


Give new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam credit for one thing, he recognizes quickly when he’s stepped in it.

He created the impression he was going to be another absentee owner when he reclaimed his old role as CEO of Pilot Flying J, the family truck stop business.

That was after stepping aside from that job when he bought the Browns, creating the impression he’d be invested beyond finances.

So Haslam did a round of interviews to try to emphasize that, telling ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi he was still going to have a hand on the wheel, unlike previous owner Randy Lerner.

“The main reason for doing these [interviews] is to communicate that nothing’s going to change,” Haslam said. “We’re going to be just as involved as we said we were. The proof’s in the pudding. I think everybody will see that there is going to be no difference.

“We feel a tremendous responsibility as owners of the Browns to turn this thing around and turn it into a winner.”

Haslam resigned as CEO of his company in September.

“I thought about that a lot myself,” Haslam said when asked why he gave up his old job. “It all transpired [buying the Browns] pretty quickly. The NFL mentioned in June there might be a team [for sale]. I met Randy in July. And then we just bought another company [Maxum Petroleum]. At the time, I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed. And the opportunity to get a man like John Compton to run our main company seemed to make a lot of sense.

“But sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Not that this went awry, but I just had a change of heart and decided I missed it.”

So instead of leaving that guy in charge of the truck stops, Haslam’s giving more responsibility to Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

“The demanding part [is] that it’s so high profile,” Haslam said. “Everything you do and everything you say is just magnified way more than it should be. You just have to be careful in what you say. That’s just the way it is.

“You know, we’ve lived in Knoxville all our lives, we own a pretty big company there, but . . . I’m much better known in Cleveland than in Knoxville and that’s because of the Browns. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

As Haslam said, the proof is in the pudding. If his hand-picked guys can’t steer the team into smooth waters, those Browns fans will naturally assume he’s content in a Tennessee truck stop, and that nothing has changed.

20 responses to “Haslam insists he’s still “just as involved” with the Browns

  1. Well, good. What fans would want an actively involved owner? Al Davis and Jerry Jones aren’t/weren’t exactly known for their consistently successful teams. A good NFL owner steps back and lets his management team handle the day-to-day decisions.

  2. As a Browns fan, I can personally say that I’m very happy he bought the team. However, I can not understand why so many fans are getting all worked up because he went back to his old job.

    Cleveland is so starved for anything with their sports teams that we almost annointed this man a messiah. He’s the golden calf that is promising to bring relevancy back to the Browns. And when he does the responsible thing, and goes back to running the business that afforded him the luxury of buying the team, this fan base is acting like a bunch of abandoned children. Grow up Browns fans. It’s almost embarrasing that Haslam felt compelled to even do this interview because of your collective hurt feelings.

  3. Complete non-issue.

    Cleveland is a city with an identity crisis. Fans feel it and the media feeds it. Banner and Haslam come from programs that had success during their tenure.

    Relax, it has to get better.

  4. I do not understand why so many Browns’ fans are worried that Haslam went back to work at his company. It is 2013, between the multiple ways to communicate electronically and his ownership of a private jet (or three) Haslam can be in on every aspect that he chooses.

    There were not many things said or done by Phil Savage that I agree(d) with but it is truly pathetic how the woe-is-me attitude oozes from the fans of this team.

    I am a 38 year old fan of the Browns and have been my entire life, but the lack of actual thought and reason of many fans is ridiculous. We should not want an owner like Jerry Jones, or Daniel Snyder (until the last two years), who is far too involved in all aspects of the team. At least give this group a full year before loading the lifeboats.

  5. Now we have Banner the bean counter and Lombardi with a bad football track record running the team on a daily basis with an owner whose primary love in life is driving around the country visiting truck stops. Where are the football executives?

  6. I think this man has to be working or doing something at all times ,and being that if anytime in pro football is a slow time this is it. I think he’ll be here when he is needed. He just doesn’t come across as a guy who can just twittle his thumbs. GO BROWNS

  7. “I just had a change of heart and decided I missed it.”
    Time will tell if this statement means he is covering for an incompetent replacement or he really would rather be more involved with the company he built.

    I seriously doubt though that the man would turn over his company to another person to run only to jump back in after 6 months just because he missed it.

    Since the replacement is staying with the company as a consultant, it could be a way for them to save face and for the temporary CEO continue to get paid for a bit while the company avoids any bad publicity that might come of such a short tenure for its new boss.

  8. What he says changes nothing. Just another absentee landlord, as far as I am concerned.

    The Browns fans and the City of Cleveland deserve better.

  9. “The proof’s in the pudding. I think everybody will see that there is going to be no difference.”

    We will save the factory!

  10. This is a non-story everywhere but Cleveland. My hunch is Mr. Compton just didnt work out as the head of Jimmy’s company. Happens all the time. I just hope his hiring of Banner and Lombardi are better. Somehow I doubt it.

  11. From the very first mention that Joe Banner was putting together an investment group to purchase a football franchise, with the understanding that Banner would run the team…I wondered, how can Joe Banner, as a member of the investment group, leverage such a demand…that he be the one to run the team?

    Was Banner putting down a chunk of money in order to make such a demand?

    NO, Jimmy Haslam said Banner put up no money…

    Now we know what Banner’s role was likely defined by Haslam from the get go…Banner would be Haslam’s de facto owner (co-owner), in charge of running the Browns once Haslam went back to his truck stop business.

    Haslam lied to the NFL and to the Browns fans, about his intentions as the owner of the Browns. Now he believes he can do some sweet talking of the Cleveland media to smooth over what was nothing more than a CON JOB by Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner.

    Mr billionaire Jimmy Haslam just wanted another toy to play with and he needed someone to run the Cleveland Browns, once he returned “to his first love”…the truck stop business.

    I hold the NFL partially responsible for this as they knew exactly what Haslam was doing…making a straw purchase to turn the Browns over to Joe Banner.

    When Haslam and Banner interviewed Chip Kelly…Kelly must has sensed, something was not right with the Browns…that he would not be working for owner Jimmy Haslam…but co-owner Joe Banner.

    The Cleveland Browns are “a mess”, thanks to Haslam and Banner.

    Thanks, Jimmy and Joe !

  12. Does anybody actually believe that owning an NFL team is a full-time job? GMs and front office people take care of all the finances and day-to-day stuff, coaching is handled…there’s only an occasional big decision for the owner to make even if he wants to be involved.

  13. I have been a Browns fan for 58 years. I say that as a preamble to what I’m about to put forth.
    Many Browns fans today are embarrassing the team and the city of Cleveland. Too many Browns fans today, are simply panic-mode fans that cry, “Chicken Little,” at the drop of a helmet. The negativity can often take the fun out of following the Browns.
    Mr. Haslam is a businessman. He took his father’s company and turned it into the #6 company on Forbes list of businesses. The man is simply proud of his work and wants to continue the success. That success afforded him the opportunity to become the owner of the Browns.
    With modern communication capabilities, corporate jets, and the internet, the man can handle two pokers in the fire at one time. I am thrilled with Mr. Haslam as our new owner and I trust wholeheartedly that the Browns are now on a path upwards towards success.
    C’mon, you Browns fans that are so negative. You don’t even have a good reason yet to be so negative. Give Mr. Haslam and the new leadership group a fair and honest chance. Quit embarrassing yourselves, the Browns, and the great city of Cleveland……and yes! I said, “GREAT CITY!”

  14. When Lerner owned the team, Browns fans, including me, were complaining because Randy didn’t take an active role in the team. Instead, he hired his “football guy” and stuck the Browns with Mike Holmgren.


    Now, Haslam wants to go back to his day job and leave the team in the hands of his “football guy,” Joe Banner. But, now, the fans are willing to give Haslam a pass.


    It doesn’t make sense to me that Haslam threw a cool BILLION down on the table, is walking away and leaving that investment in the hands of salaried workers. Especially when you consider the caliber of the workers he hired.

    Yep…I’m looking at you, Joe and Mike. Actions speak louder, boys and girls.

  15. joemammy says: Feb 14, 2013 9:08 AM

    What he says changes nothing. Just another absentee landlord, as far as I am concerned.

    The Browns fans and the City of Cleveland deserve better.
    Don’t worry Joe. He’ll be there when it’s time to demand that the city build him a new stadium with a jumbotron big enough to see from space. Maybe he can ask Jones, Snyder, or Davis for advise on how to get really into the day to day football operations so you fans won’t feels so bad for sitting at the kiddie table during the holidays. Grow up dude, smart owners pay a bung load of money to GM’s and coaching staff to make the majority of decisions while they concentrate on milking the most out of you and sponsors for the real important issues such as ticket profits, concession profits, parking profits, stadium naming profits…..

  16. I have to say Cleveland fans have lost their minds. I’m one of the but not on this issue. Get off Jimmy’s back!!! You sit on your rears and complain about everything. Yes we have suffered a long long time. But damn the man has not owned the team a year and your comparing to Lerner and even art modell. Give him and the staff that was hired a chance. Mi promise you that banner and Lombardi know more about running a football team that your sorry buts ever will. When the going gets good u of course will jump on the team success like you never complained. I have to ask if your true football fans or just a bunch of complainer!

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