SBD/October 18, 2012/Franchises

Banner Formally Named Browns CEO, Brings Sense Of Urgency To Cleveland

Banner will work with outgoing President Mike Holmgren until season's end
The Browns yesterday announced former Eagles President Joe Banner will be the team's new CEO, and he "comes to town with a sense of urgency and list of credentials from the Eagles that begins and ends with one word -- winning," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Banner "knows he can't fool long-suffering Browns fans with rhetoric." He said, "I know this: Nobody will work harder, nobody will have a clearer direction, I don't imagine anybody could have more, maybe somebody else could tie, of a sense of the appreciation of the history of the fans and the city." Banner was careful "not to specify the exact date and time success will arrive; he won't even go there with his new boss," Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III. Haslam said, "There's no shortcut to get to 10-6, but there's a better way to do it where you don't just have one good year. We're going to go as fast as we can, but we're not going to take shortcuts." Banner, who will "work closely with team president Mike Holmgren until Holmgren's retirement at the end of the season, was also careful not to give false hope to the staff about its future" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/18).

CHIEF EVALUATING OFFICER: Banner yesterday said that he will "evaluate everyone at the end of the season, but that he has great relationships with all the people in Cleveland that he worked with in Philadelphia." The PLAIN DEALER's Cabot in a separate piece notes those execs include GM Tom Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Brad Childress, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, and "key personnel men" Jon Sandusky and John Spytek. Banner said, "I come into this with a lot of respect and good feelings toward all those people" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/18).

PERFECT PARTNERSHIP: In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes, "Even though it probably couldn’t be avoided when it came to Haslam’s hiring of his right-hand man, there is a little bit of a shotgun wedding aspect to the Haslam-Banner partnership." It still "feels like there were behind-the-scenes machinations to get Banner, one of the league’s top executives, back in the NFL." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday said that he "did not set up Haslam and Banner." Banner yesterday said they were introduced by a “mutual friend in the sports business.” He added that they "were talking even before the opportunity to buy the Browns arose." Banner and Haslam have known each other "for only four months, although that does seem like enough time to hash out their vision for the Browns." Haslam "likes his executives to push back and ask questions, so perhaps Banner will be the perfect bad cop to Haslam’s good cop" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/18).

NEW REGIME: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote what "strikes you about Banner -- aside from his passion and intensity for all things organizational -- is that he's the product of the kind of talent search unseen since '99." This is not "falling for Carmen Policy and letting him sell Dwight Clark as an up-and-comer when few in the league agreed with that assessment." This is not "ownership falling head over heels for Eric Mangini to the point of letting him pick his GM. Or swooning over Holmgren to the point of letting him pick his role" (CLEVELAND.com, 10/18).

CLEVELAND ROCKS: Haslam yesterday took out a full-page ad in The Plain Dealer and wrote a letter to Browns fans. Haslam wrote, "Over the past few months we have witnessed what a great fan base we have and how deeply passionate you all are for this football team." He added, "This is a great region with tremendous people, and we are all looking forward to becoming a part of Cleveland Browns football for a long time" (CLEVELAND.com, 10/17). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston wrote Haslam "starts with a bigger fund of goodwill from his team's fans than any Cleveland owner ever" (CLEVELAND.com, 10/17).

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: In Cleveland, John Kuntz notes Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan and "former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- a lifelong Browns fan -- visited practice just hours after Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner addressed the team in the midst of management changes." Ryan "mistakenly told Browns backup quarterback Colt McCoy that he enjoyed watching him play at Oklahoma State." McCoy, a Univ. of Texas product, "glanced at starter Brandon Weeden -- the OSU Cowboy to whom Ryan thought he was speaking." Ryan also "made friends" with fellow Wisconsin native LT Joe Thomas. Shurmur suggested the two "ought to go fishing together" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/18).
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