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.

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Nationals clinch home field advantage vs. Dodgers in NL Division Series

Nationals clinch home field advantage vs. Dodgers in NL Division Series

The Nationals will begin their 2016 playoff run at home with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming to town for Game 1 on Friday, Oct. 7. That's thanks to a Dodgers loss to the Giants on Saturday, ensuring they cannot finish with the same record as the Nats, and therefore earn home field by way of their regular season head-to-head series tiebreaker.

The Nationals will host the Dodgers with quite the pitching matchup in store for Game 1. Former Cy Young winners Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw will kick things off. The starting time for Game 1 has not been released.

Home field advantage also means the Dodgers will have to return to Washington for a Game 5, if the series goes that far. 

Here is how the schedule will break down for the NL Division Series:

Fri., Oct. 7 - Game 1 - Washington, D.C. (Scherzer vs. Kershaw)
Sat., Oct. 8 - Game 2 - Washington, D.C. (TBA vs. Hill)
Mon., Oct. 10 - Game 3 - Los Angeles, CA (TBA vs. Maeda)
Tue., Oct. 11 - Game 4 - Los Angeles, CA* (TBA vs. TBA)
Thu., Oct. 13 - Game 5 - Washington, D.C.* (TBA vs. TBA)

*IF NECESSARY

[RELATED: Dusty Baker already preparing Nats rookies for pressure of playoffs]

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Virginia forces 6 turnovers in 34-20 win over Duke

Virginia forces 6 turnovers in 34-20 win over Duke

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Virginia has much less in the playbook -- and is doing so much more.

With a defensive game plan that first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall called "the simplest plan we had yet," the Cavaliers intercepted five passes and forced six turnovers in a 34-20 victory over Duke on Saturday.

The five interceptions tied the program record, last accomplished against Miami in 2010.

"The execution, it matches the current level of our players' understanding of the playbook," Mendenhall said. "I'm still getting to learn them. They're still getting to know me."

Kurt Benkert threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns, finishing 23 of 41 with touchdowns covering 28 yards to David Eldridge, 12 yards to Olamide Zaccheaus and 3 yards to Richard Burney.

Albert Reid also had a short TD run to help the Cavaliers (2-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap their 17-game road losing streak.

"The execution appears, I think, to all of us to be improving, and the culture as we all know, was the emphasis to begin," Mendenhall said. "It's starting. ... But it's fun to see the players happy. It's fun to see the players see that it's coming."

Joseph Ajeigbe's 4-yard touchdown run with 11:34 left pulled Duke to 27-20, and the Blue Devils had the ball inside Virginia territory twice after that but were stopped on downs both times.

Daniel Jones threw five interceptions for Duke (2-3, 0-2), and fumbled in his own end zone with 4:24 left after a hard hit from Jordan Mack. Eli Hamback recovered for the touchdown that put the Cavaliers back up by two touchdowns.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia: These Cavaliers looked nothing like the crew that was routed by Richmond in the opener, made Mendenhall a winner in his first ACC game and earned their first road win since a 2012 rout at North Carolina State.

"Richmond doesn't even feel like this year," Mendenhall said.

This time, they did it with defense. After failing to force a turnover in its first two games, Virginia now has nine takeaways in the last three weeks. Juan Thornhill and Bryce Hall had two interceptions apiece.

Duke: The Blue Devils pretty much squandered whatever goodwill they generated by beating Notre Dame last week, largely because they couldn't take care of the ball. Jones, who threw three interceptions in his first four games, surpassed that total by throwing four of them in 20 minutes of the first half.

Coach David Cutcliffe bristled at a reporter who asked if he'd considered replacing Jones with backup Parker Boehme, saying that "if I would have considered it, I would have done it, OK?"

With this loss, it's fair to wonder if Duke -- which still faces road games at No. 3 Louisville, No. 14 Miami and Pittsburgh -- will find the four more wins it needs to qualify for its fifth straight bowl game.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Duke trailed by a touchdown with 98 yards to go and less than 5 minutes to play. It set up a possible Joe Montana-type moment for Jones, who was looking to atone for the four interceptions he'd thrown at that point. Scanning to his left for a receiver, he never saw Mack flying in from the right side. Mack leveled him and knocked the ball free, and Hamback pounced on it for the touchdown that sealed it, and Jones threw his fifth interception on the Duke possession that followed.

STAT LINE

Benkert has thrown for 757 yards and eight touchdowns in his last two games. The East Carolina transfer set the program record with 421 yards against Central Michigan , and was on pace to break that mark before the Cavaliers slowed things down in the fourth quarter. "He's a throw-first guy," Mendenhall said, "and I think he's good at it."

UP NEXT

Virginia: It's all ACC opponents remaining for the Cavaliers, who have an idle weekend before playing host to Pittsburgh on Oct. 15.

Duke: The Blue Devils step back out of league play to host Army, but then they have only six days to get ready for a Friday night visit to Louisville on Oct. 14.