Mike Holmgren to Leave Browns as Team is Sold to New Ownership


October 16, 2012

Mike Holmgren to Leave Browns as Team is Sold to New OwnershipCHICAGO — Mike Holmgren won't be finishing the job he went to do in Cleveland.

New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy
Haslam III
said Tuesday that Holmgren was out as team president,
although the Super Bowl-winning coach will remain with the franchise to
help in the transition.

Haslam was introduced as the
Browns' new boss after the 32 NFL owners unanimously approved his $1
billion purchase of the team from Randy Lerner. Moments later, Haslam
announced that former Eagles President Joe Banner would become chief
executive officer. The move takes effect Oct. 25 when the sale is

Haslam plans no other personnel
changes before 2013, meaning the jobs of coach Pat Shurmur and his staff
and general manager Tom Heckert appear safe.

"I told Pat on Saturday night
that this was the only personnel move until the end of the season,"
Haslam said, "But I am not at all saying we'll make changes at the end
of the season."

The Browns were the last team to
win a game this year, beating Cincinnati on Sunday after five losses.
They are tied with Kansas City for the worst record in the league.

The 57-year-old Haslam, who built
his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner
of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is in the process of divesting that

He said Holmgren and Banner will "work together until the end of the season to transition in a seamless fashion."

"He has been and still is
committed to doing everything he can to make the Cleveland Browns a
winning football team," Haslam said of Holmgren, whose Browns are 10-28
since he was hired by Lerner to run football operations in 2010.

Haslam spoke at length with
Holmgren in the 2 1/2 months since he agreed to purchase the Browns.
They met Sunday to work out the logistics of the transition.

"Mike was brought in to do a certain role and I don't think he wanted a different role," Haslam said.

Holmgren led the Green Bay
Packers to the 1996 NFL championship and lost in the Super Bowl the next
year to Denver. He left the Packers in 1999 to become coach and general
manager in Seattle. Six years later, the Seahawks won the AFC title — Holmgren had given up much of his personnel duties by then to
concentrate on coaching — and fell to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

His time in Cleveland has been
far from successful, though. Indeed, Haslam has said his mission is to
bring winning football back to Cleveland; the Browns have made the
playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999.

"I would never stand here and
say we need to have 'X' number of wins, but we want to see a positive
direction," Haslam said. "I think we want to see continued improvement
and we want to see them play hard."

Banner left the Eagles in June. He was been with them since 1994 and was team president when he resigned.

"His track record in
Philadelphia has been impressive," Haslam said. "Joe is in charge of
day-to-day operations of the company. Any big decisions, we will be
involved in. Football [operations] will report to Joe."

The late Al Lerner, Randy's
father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million
after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the
Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.

The Browns made the playoffs in
2002 and lost to Pittsburgh in the first round. They've had only two
winning records in 13 seasons.

Before the sale was approved,
the owners amended an anti-tampering resolution. Three days before a
player becomes a free agent, teams will be permitted to contact the
player's agent and begin contract negotiations. But a contract can't be
completed until after free agency begins, and no direct contact is
allowed with the player before his contract expires – except by his
current team.

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