published Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Cleveland Browns sale to Haslam approved; Holmgren to leave

This Aug. 3, 2012 file photo shows Jimmy Haslam III during a news conference in Berea, Ohio. The sale of the Cleveland Browns to Haslam III was unanimously approved by NFL owners Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, and team President Mike Holmgren will be leaving the Browns at the end of the season. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
This Aug. 3, 2012 file photo shows Jimmy Haslam III during a news conference in Berea, Ohio. The sale of the Cleveland Browns to Haslam III was unanimously approved by NFL owners Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, and team President Mike Holmgren will be leaving the Browns at the end of the season. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

By BARRY WILNER

CHICAGO — The sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam III was unanimously approved by NFL owners today, and team President Mike Holmgren will be leaving at the end of the season.

Haslam hired former Eagles executive Joe Banner as CEO of the Browns to replace Holmgren. But Holmgren will remain with the team through December to “help in the transition,” Haslam said.

No other personnel moves will be made before the end of the season, said Haslam, who expects the sale to be finalized on Oct. 25. Banner will become CEO on that date.

Haslam bought the team from Randy Lerner for $1 billion. Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is in the process of divesting that stock.

Haslam and Lerner agreed to the sale in August just as training camp was opening. Haslam has said his mission is to bring winning football back to Cleveland; the Browns have made the playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999.

Holmgren was hired by Lerner in 2010. The Super Bowl-winning coach with Green Bay and former coach and general manager in Seattle has not been able to get the Browns into contention in the AFC North and Cleveland was the last team to win a game this season, improving to 1-5 with last Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati.

The fate of coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, both Holmgren hires, won’t be determined until after the season, Haslam added.

Banner left the Eagles in June. He was with them since 1994 and was team president when he resigned.

The late Al Lerner, Randy’s father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.

The Browns made the playoffs in 2002 and lost to Pittsburgh in the first round. They’ve had only two winning records in 13 seasons.

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