Cleveland Browns sold for over $1 billion, Browns fans freak over possible move
The sale does not become official until approved by two-thirds of league owners in October. This vote will be a rubber-stamp formality. Haslam has the money -- his net worth is estimated at $3 billion. His brother is the sitting governor of Tennessee. Haslam has already been vetted when he bought in to the Steelers franchise, and he's the guy who the NFL recommended when current Browns owner Randy Lerner first indicated he wanted to sell.
The deal to sell the Cleveland Browns was sealed Thursday, but the sale is not news to Cleveland fans. They've known about this for almost a week. ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi broke the story last Friday that owner Randy Lerner was in negotiations to sell the Browns, and that Haslam was the only buyer in consideration.
Of course, the day before the opening of training camp might not be the best day to confirm you're selling the team. It's one way of broadcasting to everyone -- from team President Mike Holmgren, to the Browns' players, to the stadium beer concessionaires -- that nobody's job is safe this season.
Browns fans thought they finally had a little continuity going this season. Not anymore. It's consensus opinion in Cleveland that Mike Holmgren is now gone by the end of the year, because Haslam prefers former Eagles President Joe Banner and will reportedly offer Banner a minority ownership stake. A new team President generally means a new general manager. A new general manager generally means that the coach and previous regime's draft picks have extremely tenuous job security. Browns fans know all about this, because they go through the "new general manager" process pretty much every three years.
Browns fans know all about an even uglier process -- seeing the Browns moved to another city. Fans should realize there is no way this will happen again. When the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1996, the NFL gave Cleveland a legal settlement saying the Browns' name and colors could only be used in the city of Cleveland. Haslam's purchase was reportedly granted on condition that he not move the Browns franchise.
The final price tag is not certain, it's simply being reported as "more than $1 billion". If the price exceeds the $1.1 paid for the Miami Dolphins in 2008, it will be the most expensive franchise price in NFL history.