See which NFL team was sold for 1 billion

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See which NFL team was sold for 1 billion

From Comcast SportsNet
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- The new owner of the Cleveland Browns is watching his first practice. Tennessee truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam III walked to the middle of the field Friday with team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert for his first glimpse at what 1 billion can buy. Haslam was wearing shorts on a hot, humid morning. Randy Lerner reached a deal Thursday to sell the club to Haslam, a minority stockholder in the rival Steelers. Haslam must divest his interest in the Steelers and also gain approval for the purchase from the NFL. Haslam, who planned to hold a news conference later Friday, promised Lerner the franchise won't be relocated. Haslam arrived in Cleveland late Thursday and dined with Holmgren. "He had done a lot of work on the Browns and the city of Cleveland," Lerner said Thursday, "and first and foremost gave me his personal assurance the team would remain in Cleveland." Lerner will sell 70 percent of the Browns to Haslam now, with the other 30 percent reverting to him four years after the closing date, a person with knowledge of the sale told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details have not officially been announced. "This is a very exciting time for my family and me," Haslam said through the team. "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." While the papers have been signed, the NFL still must sign off on the deal. Getting the nod from 24 of the 32 teams is required, and no date has been set for a vote because the sale has not been presented to the league yet. The person with knowledge of the sale said approval is expected by the end of September. ESPN reported the sale price was more than 1 billion. For comparison, the Miami Dolphins sold at a value of more than 1 billion in 2009. The Browns were valued at 977 million last year by Forbes magazine, 20th in the NFL. Asked if he was surprised by the deal, Holmgren said: "On one hand, the surprising part was the time of the year. But in this business, I gave up being surprised a long time ago." Lerner, whose family has owned the franchise since it returned to the NFL in 1999, first announced he was in negotiations to sell the club last week. 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. Randy Lerner also is the owner of Aston Villa, a club in the English Premier League. The expansion Browns entered the NFL in 1999 and have made the playoffs just once, a 2002 first-round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They've had only two winning records in 13 seasons and are 68-140 since they returned. Even with a string of failures on the field, the value of the Browns -- like other NFL franchises -- keeps increasing, boosted by broadcast income. The league agreed in December to nine-year contracts with CBS, Fox and NBC that run through the 2022 season and will boost revenue from the 1.93 billion last season to 3.1 billion by 2022. The NFL reached an eight-year extension with ESPN last year through the 2021 season that increases the rights fee from 1.1 billion to 1.9 billion annually. Haslam has been a minority investor in the Steelers since 2008, and is the president and CEO of Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. He is the older brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. According to a 2010 profile on Steelers.com, Haslam has been a Dallas Cowboys fan and then an Indianapolis Colts fan. But with the Pittsburgh investment, Haslam said he had become "1,000 percent a Steelers fan." The Haslam brothers are supporters of the University of Tennessee, where their father Jim Haslam played tackle on the 1951 national championship football team under Gen. Robert R. Neyland, who built the Volunteers into a football powerhouse. The elder Haslam founded the Pilot Corp. in 1958 with a single gas station in Gate City, Va. He credits sons Bill and Jimmy with expanding the chain from mostly gas stations and convenience stores to a "travel center" concept of truck stops featuring branded fast food service. As for Haslam possibly moving the franchise, Holmgren emphatically added, "The Cleveland Browns aren't going anywhere." But the current staff might be if the Browns don't do better than the 4-12 record of 2011, Pat Shurmur's first season as coach. New owners usually bring in their own management team, although Shurmur has impressed many people around the league. "I have no fear about any of that because I trust my coaches, I trust the players and I've watched the work they've done based on the conversation of this last week," Shurmur said Thursday. "I think we're moving full steam ahead. That doesn't bother me one bit at this point at this point. My concern is getting this team ready to play and our players understand that message and they are doing a good job." Holmgren would not address his future with the Browns. "Honestly, my focus is to have guys here concentrating on football, making it business as usual," he said. "The what ifs and hypotheticals, I have to stay away from." Haslam would be the sixth majority owner of the Browns: team founder Mickey McBride (1945-1953), David Jones (1953-1961), Art Modell (1961-1995), Al Lerner (1998-2002), and Randy Lerner (2002-present). An NFL trust also oversaw the inactive franchise from 1996-1998. Cleveland last won the NFL championship in 1964, beating Johnny Unitas and the then-Baltimore Colts 27-0. The Browns have never been to the Super Bowl.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan: 'Sid's line can play against anybody'

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Penguins coach Mike Sullivan: 'Sid's line can play against anybody'

The Capitals’ top line got the better of the Penguins’ top line in Game 1, but don’t expect Pittsburgh to avoid that matchup going forward. Head coach Mike Sullivan saw plenty to like from his line’s performance.

Barry Trotz has shown all season that he likes putting his top line out against his opponents' and it has worked thus far in the postseason.

Sullivan, however, isn’t concerned.

“No, I’m not going to avoid it,” Sullivan said when asked if he would try to free his top line from the Caps’. “We don’t mind that matchup. I think Sid’s line can play against anybody and he's done that all year long and they've produced.”

But they didn’t in Game 1.

RELATED: Chorney told to prepare as if playing in Game 2

The Penguins’ line of Connor Sheary, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist tallied zero points and each player finished with a minus-3 on Thursday. It was much the same for the Caps who were able to completely shut down the top line of the Philadelphia Flyers in round one, holding Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds to only five total points in six games.

The key for the Caps has been going power vs. power, matching their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie against their opponent's’ top line. It is a strategy that has worked on both ends of the ice (see Oshie’s hat trick in Game 1).

Despite the lack of production, however, Sullivan remains pleased with the top line’s performance.

"Even though they didn’t score the other night doesn’t mean that they didn’t have quality chances or have a fair amount of offensive zone time so we liked a lot of what Sid’s line did and we feel as though if they continue to play the game the way that they're playing they're going to end up on the score sheet.”

MORE CAPITALS: Wilson explains 'bluff' hut on Sheary

Redskins trade down in fourth round

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Redskins trade down in fourth round

The Redskins made a draft day trade with the Saints for the second year in a row.

When Washington was on the clock for their fourth round pick, No. 120 overall, they made a deal with New Orleans. The Saints move up from the 152nd pick to the Redskins’ pick. The Redskins went back to the Saints’ pick, which is in the fifth round, and took New Orleans’ fifth-round pick in 2017.

The Saints took linebacker David Onyemata out of Manitoba, Canada with the pick.

The Redskins now have five more picks in this draft, two in the fifth round, one in the sixth, and two in the seventh.

And by getting the fifth-round pick for next year they recoup the selection they sent to the 49ers last year in exchange for tight end Derek Carrier. They now have eight picks in 2017, one in each round and two in the sixth. They got the extra sixth with a trade down in the first round on Thursday.

Ravens target playmaking receiver with second pick of 4th round

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Ravens target playmaking receiver with second pick of 4th round

The Ravens targeted playmaking wide receiver Chris Moore with their second pick (107th overall) in the fourth round. While the Ravens expect wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman to return from season-ending injuries in 2015, Moore could earn a role in the rotation and should add depth to a position where injuries have been a problem.

During his college career, Moore had 26 touchdown catches and excelled both as a deep threat receiver and as a possession receiver. His 21.1 yards per catch average last season ranked eighth in the nation, as Moore finished with 39 receptions for 823 yards and seven touchdowns for the season. 

The Ravens were also attracted by Moore’s size -- 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. Moore showed a willingness to catch balls in traffic at Cincinnati, and he also broke tackles that led to long runs after the catch.

The Ravens also signed deep threat receiver Mike Wallace during free agency, so on paper, quarterback Joe Flacco will begin training camp with a diverse variety of weapons. Big plays were sorely lacking in the Ravens’ passing game last season, but Moore could play a part in changing that.