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Browns Officially Sold from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam

Randy Lerner today agreed to sell a majority stake in the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam, CEO of the Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J Corporation, along with his family. The sale is subject to a review by the NFL and a vote of the league’s owners at a later date.

“This is a very exciting time for my family and me,” said Haslam. “To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL – something all Browns fans want and deserve. We plan to bring relentless dedication and hard work to every aspect of this organization, and we look forward to getting to know this team and community as quickly as possible. Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process.”

For the last 16 years, the 58-year old Haslam has been the CEO of Pilot Flying J Corporation, the nation’s largest retail operator of travel centers and truck stops. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Haslam and his wife, Susan “Dee” Bagwell Haslam, have three adult children, Jim, Whitney and Cynthia.

Randy Lerner assumed control of the Browns in October 2002 following the death of his father, Al. The National Football League awarded the Cleveland franchise to Al Lerner on September 8, 1998. The formal transfer of ownership from the Browns Trust to Lerner took place on October 23, 1998.


On behalf of my family and as trustee for the Lerner Family Trust, which holds the shares of the Cleveland Browns, I have agreed to sell the Browns to Jimmy Haslam and his family.

I was approached regarding Mr. Haslam’s interest several weeks ago. While as a fiduciary I have always felt it was my responsibility to listen to offers, I had not been approached with a proposal that felt as natural and complete as Mr. Haslam’s. He had done a lot of work on the Browns and the City of Cleveland and first and foremost gave me his personal assurance the team would remain in Cleveland.

As I was at first overwhelmed, I asked for a few days to consider the proposal during which time I consulted with my mother and sister. Over this short period we agreed that the proposal was strong, the buyers made sense and the time was right for us to move on.

Going forward, we anticipate that the League will meet and vote on the deal and the closing is expected to follow shortly thereafter. During this time the organization will operate as it has in the past with all senior executives in place.

While a statement like this is certainly part of the process, it couldn’t possibly capture my feelings towards the Browns and the many people whom I feel very strong about. Those feelings therefore will need to be expressed in person. Notwithstanding, I feel a deep debt of gratitude to the loyal and passionate fan base, as well as the people I’ve met and worked with over the years. It has been a privilege to be involved with the Cleveland Browns and my only hope is that the Haslam family has the best of luck and that the Browns are restored to their rightful place among NFL Champions.

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One Response to “Browns Officially Sold from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam”

  1. Denolakes says:

    This could be the real stat of something special for this team. With Hagg showing up, we could have 5 draft picks from the 2011 class starting. That is a terrific draft by any measure. Add to that the additions this year — probably another 5 starters/regulars on offense alone. Haslam came from the Rooney organization. Banner I am not so sure about — but I cannot see them blowing this thing up for some mindless “I want my own people” sort of thing . . . I have to believe that decisions will be based upon performance of the organization — both on and off the field. It is a $1B investment over 4 years — in an area that is steeped in football tradition and hungry for a winner. Forget the return to the old days — time to build another tradition in this era. I want to look forward to the Pittsburgh-Cleveland games, and the Baltimore-Cleveland games, too. Cincy-Cleveland has always had its own flavor — but due to the historically hapless nature of both franchises had little real meaning. The AFC North could yet again be the kick-a** division in pro football — and we could be a big part of that. What is not to like . . .?

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