See which NFL team was sold for 1 billion


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, 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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Five observations from Ravens' woeful Week 7 loss to Jets

Five observations from Ravens' woeful Week 7 loss to Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. – The Ravens blew yet another late lead and thanks to a woeful second-half perofrmance, dropped their fourth consecutive game.

Here are the five observations from the Ravens' 24-16 loss to the Jets:


1. The Ravens have so many issues and injuries, beating any opponent would be a struggle.

The Jets (2-5) had lost four straight, but they outplayed the Ravens, who have lost four straight for the first time ever under coach John Harbaugh’s.

Seven key Ravens were out with injuries – Steve Smith Sr., C. J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Elvis Dumervil, and Shareece Wright.

But the Ravens weren’t playing well offensively, even before the injuries began to pile up. In this game, the defense gave up 101 yards rushing to Matt Forte. The Ravens are fortunate to have a bye in Week 8, because they need it. But if they don’t play better, nothing will change.

2. The Ravens can no longer blame their one-dimensional offense on Marc Trestman.

The Ravens finished with just six yards rushing. Yes, just six yards.

Trestman isn’t calling plays anymore after, being fired as offensive coordinator. But they reverted back to bad habits in Marty Morhinweg’s second game as offensive coordinator. Running back Terrance West was bottled up by the Jets’ defense, and the Ravens were shutout in the second half when they became pass-happy and ineffective.

Without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), the Ravens’ offensive line was outplayed. But if the Ravens don’t become a better offensive team after the bye, the losing will continue.

3. Injured arm or not, Joe Flacco’s two interceptions cost the Ravens dearly.

Flacco throw back-to-back interceptions on two straight series in the third quarter, leading to 10 points for the Jets. Up to that point,

Flacco had thrown the ball fairly well playing with a sore shoulder. But if he’s going to help the Ravens win, Flacco needs to do more than just play hurt. He needs to play well. His inconsistent play, not just in this game, but all season, has helped put the Ravens in their current situation.

4. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick likely reclaimed his starting job.

Fitzpatrick (9 for 14, 120 yards) entered the game late in the second quarter after Geno Smith went out with a knee injury.

Fitzpatrick was not spectacular, but he avoided mistakes and helped move the offense. That means Fitzpatrick likely remains the Jets’ guy, and he may have to anyway if Smith is seriously injured.

5. A strong game by Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace was wasted.

Wallace (10 catches, 120 yards) had an excellent game, but he did not have enough help. The Ravens need other wide receivers to make more plays, but part of their success depends on Flacco playing better as well.

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Redskins take late lead on Cousins TD, give up late lead on Boldin TD

Redskins take late lead on Cousins TD, give up late lead on Boldin TD

Late in the fourth quarter of their Week 7 game against the Lions, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins used his legs — yes, his legs — to give the team a go-ahead lead.

Trailing 13-10 with just over a minute remaining, Cousins kept the ball on a read-option play and ran 19 yards for the go-ahead score.


But the Redskins gave the Lions too much time to work with.

Matthew Stafford hooked up with former Redskin qide receiver Andre Roberts for a big play, then found Anquan Boldin, who fought his way across the goal line with under 20 seconds left.

With the 20-17 loss, the Redskins' four-game winning streak is snapped.

The team travels to London next week to take on the Bengals.