Do the Haslams know what they’re doing?

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The lengthy and detailed article from Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com regarding several years of Dawg Pound dysfunction may do nearly as much to dampen the current over-the-top enthusiasm in Cleveland as if they’d re-hired Hue Jackson to coach the team. Wickersham paints a troubling portrait of an owner who, while apparently well-intentioned, pits employees against each other through an incessant habit of gathering information.

It’s a habit that often prompts employees to complain about other employees, fueling the many changes that Haslam has made over the years, often without warning — and without explanation.

More than six years after Jimmy Haslam bought the team, he’s still figuring out how to own the team. And his wife, co-owner Dee Haslam, who has emerged in recent years as a more prominent figure in the operation of the franchise, reportedly has admitted (repeatedly) that she and her husband remain clueless when it comes to running a football team.

“We just don’t know what we are doing,” Dee Haslam has repeatedly said on multiple occasions, according to multiple unnamed sources who spoke to Wickersham. “If we’d known how hard it would be, we never would have bought the team.” (The team denied that Dee Haslam ever said this.)

So why did they buy the team? Billionaires become tempted by the trappings of billionaire life, and buying an NFL team is a non-braggy way to let everyone know you’re a billionaire. It’s not about showing off; it’s about making a good investment.

And it is a good investment, if the goal is to make money. If the goal is to become beloved or well-known or whatever, it’s a crapshoot.

For every Bob Kraft there’s a Dan Snyder, and the zero-sum nature of the NFL ensures that good teams will be mirrored by bad teams. That each and every franchise that is well run will be balanced by a team that isn’t.

Which once again reminds me of one of the most insightful quotes I’ve ever heard: The only thing better than being rich and famous is being rich.

44 responses to “Do the Haslams know what they’re doing?

  1. Obviously they don’t know what they’re doing but give them some credit for finally realizing it and hiring a real football guy like John Dorsey to finally turn that team in the right direction.

  2. Haslam with his wife sitting in the audience when the head coach was announced is a good start.

  3. Do the Haslams know what they’re doing?

    Of course they do, they’re making money hand over fist like all NFL owners! If the product is bad, so what? They still get their TV contract money, people still come to the games and buy $12 beers and so forth.

    Now of the question were do they know what they’re doing with their gas stations…well that would be a resounding No.

  4. Add Dean Spanos to the “bad” list. The “fight For LA” is over as the LA Charger “re-location” is a complete failure and the NFL knows it. But they can’t do anything about it. Las Vegas Raiders up next. Then the San Antonio Bills, then the London Jaguars. The NFL relocation policy is a mess and as the NFL owners receive a $650,000,000 “relocation” fee for each move, they couldn’t care less.

  5. It does appear that they have learned the lesson of having the coach and personnel guy report directly to Haslam. Instead of preventing it, the separate reporting structure caused both GM and HC to take the fall together (eventually).

  6. WAIT!!!

    I thought it was all Hue Jackson’s fault.

    You know… the guy who led the team to a 7-8-1 record
    with four games stolen by terrible officiating,
    two overtime losses, and one overtime tie.

    So… what is with all this it’s the guy who mismanaged his trucking company
    into a $92,000,000 federal fines fault?!?

  7. The Haslams have botched nearly everything, but if they’re letting Dorsey take over football-related decision making, they’ve finally done something right. And it’s starting to show up in the standings.

  8. I love how all the 30k millionaires know better than self made billionaires. Pro sports are different than any other business. Judging the talent and future of 21-22 year old young men isn’t an exact science. For every Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you have a million Ryan Leaf’s and Johnny Manziel’s. Luck plays a big part too. Do you think Belichick would have passed on Brady FIVE TIMES if he knew what he was going to become? Think about it, if Nick Saban signed Drew Brees New England would not have won as much as they have. They still would have been good and still would have probably won Super Bowls, but not 20 years of dominance. That’s one single personnel decision. One. How many teams passed on Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre? The list goes on and on. Good teams do this: Hire a competent GM to run your team, stay out of the way and let him do his job. You aren’t going to lose money or go out of business in the NFL, so the worst fears of owning a business are non existant. Even if you do all of that, you still aren’t guaranteed anything. Injuries and bad luck derail seasons and careers. Its not as easy as it looks.

  9. The guy drafted Johnny Manziel because a homeless man told him to.

    Was all of this pondering and conjecture necessary?

    No. It wasn’t. Because no. He doesn’t.

    Obviously.

  10. The lengthy and detailed article from Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com regarding several years of Dawg Pound dysfunction may do nearly as much to dampen the current over-the-top enthusiasm in Cleveland as if they’d re-hired Hue Jackson to coach the team.
    ======================================================================

    ….and you’re helping how?

  11. No, the only thing harder than being rich is staying rich. More people need to understand that, because it’s not a given.

  12. doctorrustbelt says:
    January 24, 2019 at 11:39 am
    WAIT!!!

    I thought it was all Hue Jackson’s fault.

    You know… the guy who led the team to a 7-8-1 record
    with four games stolen by terrible officiating,
    two overtime losses, and one overtime tie.
    _____________________________________________
    One big problem with your version of the story there doc: 5 of those wins were after Hue Jackson was fired.

  13. “So why did they buy the team? Billionaires become tempted by the trappings of billionaire life, and buying an NFL team is a non-braggy way to let everyone know you’re a billionaire. It’s not about showing off; it’s about making a good investment.”

    No. It’s absolutely about showing off. I doubt owners (in today’s NFL) think “I have billions of dollars, but I need a steady revenue source.” They think I have billions of dollars, wouldn’t it be neat to own an NFL team?

  14. Then the San Antonio Bills, then the London Jaguars
    ————-
    The Bills are going anyway, as the only New York team and an owner from the Rochester area, just to compete with Jerry Jones and territorial disputes.

  15. Then the San Antonio Bills, then the London Jaguars
    ————-
    The Bills aren’t going anyway, as the only New York team and an owner from the Rochester area, just to compete with Jerry Jones and territorial disputes.

  16. Hiring of Dorsey and the new head coach will only work if the owners stay in their lane, and it sounds like this trucking magnate drives his truck in whatever lane he wants.

  17. Yep, the Haslams are morons, but to their credit, they brought in a GM that they have allowed to run the team.

    One could ask the same question about Captain Kangaroo out in Oakland or wherever it is that they are going to be playing next year about whether or not he knows what he is doing.

  18. No. But even bad owners like the Spanoses or Bidwells can stumble into success from time to time. However, this probably won’t last Brown fans unless Haslem sells the team. Just listen to him speak, and you realize he’s not that bright.

  19. No, but knowing what you’re doing isn’t really a requirement. Mike Brown knows what he’s doing. It’s just that what he’s doing (maximizing profits) is antithetical to building a team that can win. Owners who think they know what they’re doing are the dangerous ones.

  20. And they don’t have to know what they’re doing. You hire people who DO know what they’re doing, then you sit back and listen to the football people do their jobs. Don’t assume you know anything about running a successful NFL franchise. Sit back and watch and learn. At some point they may feel more comfortable with taking on some of the decisions – but, again, that’s what the football people are for.

    And hiring the right people will only lead to increasing the value of the franchise.

  21. Shouldn’t the real question have been: Has “any” of the Browns owners in the Superbowl era known what they were doing?

  22. mustafa67 says:
    January 24, 2019 at 11:45 am
    I love how all the 30k millionaires know better than self made billionaires. Pro sports are different than any other business. Judging the talent and future of 21-22 year old young men isn’t an exact science. For every Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you have a million Ryan Leaf’s and Johnny Manziel’s. Luck plays a big part too. Do you think Belichick would have passed on Brady FIVE TIMES if he knew what he was going to become? Think about it, if Nick Saban signed Drew Brees New England would not have won as much as they have. They still would have been good and still would have probably won Super Bowls, but not 20 years of dominance. That’s one single personnel decision. One. How many teams passed on Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre? The list goes on and on. Good teams do this: Hire a competent GM to run your team, stay out of the way and let him do his job. ****************

    100% correct. And if the old Browns owner hadn’t sold the Browns fans down the river, crybaby Krafty would not have had a chance at Bill Belichick.

  23. youbettercallsaul says:
    January 24, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Yep, the Haslams are morons, but to their credit, they brought in a GM that they have allowed to run the team.

    >>>I’m not so sure as upon hiring Dorsey they did require him to “RETAIN” Hue so they’re not totally hands-off, they still have their fingers buried in the pie up to their knuckles!

  24. realfootballfan says:
    January 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm
    No. But even bad owners like the Spanoses or Bidwells can stumble into success from time to time. However, this probably won’t last Brown fans unless Haslem sells the team. Just listen to him speak, and you realize he’s not that bright.

    He’s not that bright huh? How many multi-billion dollar businesses have you started from scratch?

  25. Guy Hence says:
    January 24, 2019 at 11:35 am
    Add Dean Spanos to the “bad” list. The “fight For LA” is over as the LA Charger “re-location” is a complete failure and the NFL knows it. But they can’t do anything about it. Las Vegas Raiders up next. Then the San Antonio Bills, then the London Jaguars. The NFL relocation policy is a mess and as the NFL owners receive a $650,000,000 “relocation” fee for each move, they couldn’t care less.

    =========

    You may be correct on everything else you say, but you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about of you think the Bills are leaving Buffalo.

  26. Once again a Wickersham story that relies on “unnamed sources”. Leads me to wonder what tabloid the story first appeared in.

    “If we’d known how hard it would be, we never would have bought the team.”

    Does anyone really believe she said this? Who would she say this to? And if true, why not sell the team, I’m sure a sale would bring a handsome profit.

    The Browns have been disfunctional the last 6 years or so, that is true, but heck, even the most gullible are probably questioning the accuracy of this story.

  27. waynefontesismyfather says:January 24, 2019 at 11:34 am
    Do the Haslams know what they’re doing?

    Of course they do, they’re making money hand over fist like all NFL owners!
    ================================

    Oh come on. You cannot lose as an owner of an NFL franchise because of the revenue sharing. Cleveland also has the most loyal fans in the league to stick with such a loser franchise for so long. The Browns are making money IN SPITE OF the Haslams and their incompetence as owners.

    The next sure thing is owning a casino as the house always wins. You have to be a special kind of moron to bankrupt a casino.

  28. If they’ve learned that letting the very competent football people they’ve hired do their jobs without interfering, then they’ve become geniuses! In which case they should continue on this course, and wait for the results!

  29. don’t know about haslems but clearly wickersham doesn’t know what he’s doing and has zero credibility after all that b.s. about patriots being dysfunctional and collapsing blew up his face.

  30. “Steve Cunningham says:
    January 24, 2019 at 2:13 pm
    Shouldn’t the real question have been: Has “any” of the Browns owners in the Superbowl era known what they were doing?”

    Modell was the most meddling and self-absorbed of Browns’ owners in the SB era, and looking at his drafting over those thirty years, it’s obvious he didn’t know what he was doing. Just a sample: Trading Paul Warfield for Mike Phipps; letting his son make a draft pick in the 13th round in 1972 that weirdly turned into Brian Sipe, etc.. But, you could make a case that Al Lerner did know what he was doing when he helped his pal Modell move the Browns to Baltimore, and the NFL subsequently rewarded him by giving him the expansion team in Cleveland.

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