Haslam approved as Browns owner; Holmgren out at season's end

NFL owners have approved the sale of the Cleveland Browns to a group led by Jimmy Haslam and changes are already taking place in the club's front office.

Haslam, in his introductory press conference on Tuesday, said team president Mike Holmgren will leave at the conclusion of the season and former Eagles president Joe Banner will fill the position as chief executive officer.

"With us coming in and taking a more active role, Mike has decided at the end of the year to leave the Cleveland Browns and retire," said Haslam on Tuesday. "Mike will work closely with us over the next four months to make this transition as easy as possible."

Haslam said Banner's hiring, which takes effect Oct. 25, will be the only change during the season.

"Joe and Mike will work together to transition, in a seamless fashion, to bring a winner to the Cleveland Browns," Haslam added.

Haslam's group purchased 70 percent of the franchise from Randy Lerner in early August for a price reportedly in excess of $1 billion. Lerner, whose father Al was awarded the franchise in 1999 when the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion club, will still own a 30 percent stake.

"This is truly one of the great iconic NFL brands," said Haslam about the Browns. "It's a very special place. We're going to do everything we possibly can to bring a winning team to the fans of Cleveland."

NFL owners, meeting in Chicago, unanimously approved the transaction on Tuesday.

Haslam, previously a minority shareholder in the Pittsburgh Steelers, had been the CEO of Pilot Flying J Corporation, the nation's largest retail operator of travel centers and truck stops. He relinquished the daily operations role and is now the chairman of the company.

The Lerners helped bring football back to northeast Ohio after the original Browns were moved by Art Modell to Baltimore following the 1995 campaign. The club's name and history, however, remained with the city and were restored when the Browns again began play in 1999.

Haslam takes control of a team that is coming off its first win of the season, a 34-24 victory over Cincinnati. The Browns have had just two winning seasons since rejoining the league in '99, reaching the playoffs once -- in 2002.

Holmgren accepted the job as club president in late December 2009. The Browns have just 10 wins since the start of the 2010 season, posting a record of 5-11 in 2010 and 4-12 last year.

The status of both general manager Tom Heckert and second-year head coach Pat Shurmur will also come into question.

"At the end of the year we'll evaluate everyone in the organization, as we would anyone, whether we win the Super Bowl or two games," Haslam stated.

Banner stepped down as Eagles president this past June. He had handled the team's day-to-day operations since 1995.