Monday, March 23, 2015

Does Haslam Want to Own the Titans? Too Good to be True!

Let's think about this for a minute.  Would it be good to have the Browns owned by local business interests, perhaps with someone like Bernie Kosar fronting the ownership group?  Or are the Browns better off with Jimmy Haslam III running th show?  

     It's probably a crock, but Joseph LaCanfora of ESPN has reported that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III is interested in exploring the possibility of becoming the new owner of the Tennessee Titans, which is on the market due to the death of its longtime owner Bud Adams.  

     This is too good to be true.  LaCanfora's scenario, in which Haslam would take over the Tennessee Titans and then sell the Browns to Tennessee investors, doesn't make sense.  Why would a Tennessee ownership group want to take over a Cleveland Team instead of the Tennessee team?     
       If Haslam is interested in the Titans, it would make sense for the Cleveland area business people to come together to form an ownership group that could take over the team from Haslam.   And it wouldn't hurt at all to have someone with Browns connections, someone like Bernie Kosar, at the forefront of an ownership group.  

     That would be infinitely better than trusting the team to Tennessee oilman Jimmy Haslam.  Oddly, however, Browns fans have for the most part reacted with anger to the suggestion that Haslam might sell the team. In only a few years, Haslam has become totally beloved by most Cleveland fans.  It's like he is Ghandi or something.  I have no idea why.  

    Haslam has done some good things for the Browns, including getting a new deal done with the City of Cleveland that will help keep the franchise viable in Cleveland.  And he fired Joe Banner, which I feel had to be done.  

The Cleveland fan base is basically convinced that Jimmy Haslam is fiercely loyal to the city of Cleveland, and would never try to make money at their expense.   

       But he has also done some terrible things.  From a football point of view, it's rumored that he squashed front office attempts to get rid of Josh Gordon, and he instigated for the signing of Johnny Football as the team's first round draft pick in 2014, overruling Ray Farmer.   It's an established fact that several coaching candidates turned down the opportunity to come to Cleveland, not being willing to deal with Haslam or former General Manager and all-around genius, Joe Banner.   

    Haslam has also allowed his company Pilot Flying J to become embroiled in a multimillion dollar scandal involving fraudulent discounts for diesel fuel.  This is not the kind of publicity that the team needs.  
     Meantime no one seemed to notice that Haslam originally promised that he was going to move to Cleveland and become a full time resident owner for the team and reneged on both promises.  Instead, he has become a PART time NON-resident owner, maintaining his residence in Tennessee after un-retiring as CEO of Pilot Flying J.  Few people seemed to realize that it happened, and fewer still cared.  Local ownership is far more likely to fight to keep the franchise in Cleveland.  

     Most fans remain cheerfully ignorant, believing that they are so loved by the NFL that they would never be abandoned by Commissioner Goodell and the other good-hearted NFL owners. Moreover, the Browns have a strong lease agreement!  Why, isn't it impossible to break such an agreement?  

     Yeah, sure, kids.   Jimmy Haslam is so honest, he would NEVER hire a lawyer to exploit the loopholes in the Browns current lease agreement.     THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.   What am I thinking? 

    My favorite argument is that Jimmy Haslam is so wealthy that he is no longer motivated by money, and the increase in value (something like 500 million dollars) that would be created by moving the Browns to London or Los Angeles would not interest him.   Right, kids.   
     Let's consider that seriously for a moment. 

      Hahahahahahaha!   No, let's not.   

     Although there is adequate precedent for owners changing teams (for example the Ram's Robert Irsay swapped his team for Carroll Rosenbloom's Baltimore Colts, with BOTH franchises ultimately moving), a botched attempt to swap teams would be a public relations nightmare.  For that reason, I seriously doubt whether Haslam would consider it unless he were sure that he could get the deal done in advance.  I don't think Haslam can take that kind of risk given his fragile position with Pilot Flying J, not to mention the Browns.     

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