The Cleveland Browns are officially under new ownership.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Randy Lerner sold the team to Jimmy Haslam III for a reported price of over $1 billion.
That’s quite a pretty penny for a franchise that hasn’t made the postseason since 2002 and only has two winning seasons since 1999—the year the organization was revived by Al Lerner.
After the elder Lerner passed away in 2002, ownership was passed down to his son, Randy.
It seemed that the younger Lerner never truly had a passion for running the organization and wasn’t committed to putting a winning product on the field. He was low-key about his involvement with the team and didn’t seem to care as much as other NFL owners do.
Haslam, the CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J truck stops, has already been a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers ownership group and knows what a winning culture looks like. He should certainly cultivate a new attitude for the team.
However, some feel that his motivation to purchase the Browns might not be purely for football reasons, but rather that it's to expand his company’s reach into enemy territory.
According to Josh Flory of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Flying J’s biggest rival is TravelCenters of America. That company is based in Westlake, Ohio—just 15 minutes from Browns Stadium.
If Haslam is actually interested in running a football organization, the Browns should be just fine. Fans are hoping that the Tennessean’s lavish purchase is not foremost a business ploy.
The Browns needed a new owner that will be more involved and willing to change the direction of this dismal franchise.
Hopefully Haslam is their man.
Lead image courtesy of mirror.co.uk.