Monday, May 5, 2014


Jimmy Haslam Cleveland Browns @BrownsMemes

I had a great laugh the other day, I found a column on by Patrick Daugherty ranking the NFL team owners.  I scrolled down expecting to find our friend Jimmy Haslam somewhere in the 20's but kept scrolling, and scrolling, and finally found him perched at #31.  Yes 31st out of 32 NFL franchises.  Behind the publicly owned Packers, the "For Sale" Bills, and well behind the aforementioned Colts owner.

Mr Daugherty wrote:
31. Jimmy Haslam, Browns
Haslam was gifted with a unique opportunity when he purchased the Browns in 2012: Deliverance. Outside of the Chicago Cubs, the Browns are the most-tortured fanbase in American sports. Haslam could have been the savior, the man who erased Tim Couch, Art Modell and “The Drive." He could have been a new lease on life for a Dawg Pound that’s sick and tired of the jokes and the losses. Instead, he’s become subject of a federal investigation, and employed as many head coaches in 18 months as the Steelers have in 45 years. Haslam isn’t just more of the same in Cleveland, he’s everything that’s wrong with the modern owner. Haslam is an arrogant, rash, amoral man who believes the law doesn’t apply to him. Someone who will cut as many corners as necessary to ensure he gets as many dollars as possible. Someone who — allegedly, of course — spent years ripping off the exact kind of people who make up the bedrock NFL fandom, a bedrock that is gradually being priced out of attending games. Maybe Haslam will beat his federal rap. He is, after all, a billionaire with more lawyers at his disposal than the average man will ever meet. But Haslam will never beat back the impulses that have made him a(n alleged) criminal and clueless owner, for that would require two things he could only dream of: Humility and empathy. Even if he eventually wins, Jimmy Haslam is not a winner. 

Now I am not knocking Patrick's article, every word of this assessment of Mr. Haslam has merit.  The only part that I may argue at all was the fact that Haslam wasn't ripping off the bedrock of NFL fandom.  Jimmy's company was ripping off other big businesses.  But that goes right back to Jimmy, if you had no knowledge that is how your company was run, you are a pretty crappy business owner.

With that being said, I still don't believe that the other 30 owners that were ranked above Jimmy didn't step on a lot of toes on their way to becoming "NFL owner rich," Jimmy was just one of the first owners to get caught red handed.  Knowing that a national perspective of us puts our owner "Alone at the bottom" with Dan Snyder of the Redskins is a heavy accomplishment for a guy who only bought the team within the last couple years.

Cleveland Browns @BrownsMemes Jimmy Haslam Joe Banner
Yes it got this bad in Berea
But one thing that was not mentioned in the article is the x-factor that got him the low rating in the first place.  That x-factor goes by the name Joe Banner.  When you join the boys club that is NFL ownership there are some strong suggestions that the league gives you when you are new.  In Jimmy's case, he was still heavily involved in his own business. Banner was working for the NFL after a long stint as the Eagles president.  The league suggest Banner to get Haslam started, he agreed.  I don't think Haslam expected Banner to overstep his bounds the way that he did.

Cleveland Browns @BrownsMemes Jimmy Haslam Joe Banner Mike Lombardi
Jimmy looking pleased to be speaking with the media
Banner's cardinal sin was hiring Mike Lombardi.  Not only was Lombardi a PR nightmare for the team, his track record shows that he is the GM hire you make when someone in the organization has more power than they should.  He was Bill Belichick's whipping boy during his first tenure in Cleveland, after a couple stops, his 2nd time as GM was as Al Davis' whipping boy in Oakland, then right back to Cleveland to be Joe Banner's whipping boy.  Lombardi's presence was a clear indication that Joe Banner wanted control over more things than he was qualified to be a part of.

The writing on the wall that these weren't "Jimmy's guys," was there from the beginning, Alex Scheiner and Ray Farmer were already on staff.  I just think that Banner screwed up his job so badly that Jimmy knew that he needed to make the changes sooner before later.  I've heard rumors that Haslam was being teased at the Super Bowl by some of the other owners, I don't know if that is true, but change came quickly thereafter.  I will say that I like how the offseason has been handled since the turnover in the front office.  Gone are the reports of nobody knowing who to report to.  The rumors of coordinators being asked to report to Banner are ancient history.  All of the dumb stuff the past year and a half of Jimmy's ownership has spawned appeared to have quieted, at least until now.

Cleveland Browns @BrownsMemes Jimmy Haslam Brandon Weeden
I think that we are moving in the right direction from last year

With that being said, at the moment Jimmy Haslam is still sitting at the worst of the worst of popular opinion.  I don't Jimmy is too happy about being lumped with the worst.  The worst part is that being #31 is actually better than where I lumped Randy Lerner, because what could be worse than a guy who doesn't care that he owns a NFL franchise? But that isn't exactly the progress I was hoping for when he bought the team.

So Jimmy if you want to climb the ranks, the time is now. Lets hope the drastic moves you made this offseason finally pan out.  I don't want the biggest Jimmy Haslam justification I can make to be, "At least he isn't Donald Sterling."

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