The new owner of the Cleveland Browns took the podium Friday, spoke sternly, and left fans with plenty to chew on as another season of optimism approaches.
Indeed, Jimmy Haslam III has big plans for the Browns. And he better. After all, he just signed to purchase the team from Randy Lerner for $1 billion.
Haslam – the truck-stop magnate from Tennessee who is now a former minority owner of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers – watched his first practice Friday at his new team’s facility and quickly pledged to provide progressive leadership to this AFC North squad that went 4-12 last season.
“Our style is going to be involved,” said Haslam, wearing an orange tie and sporting a Browns logo pin on his suit lapel.
The one topic he refused to discuss, however, was the future of president Mike Holmgren and other personnel, and he would not address reports that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is part of his ownership group.
Haslem praised Holmgren, the former Green Bay and Seattle coach in his third year of trying to restore the fortunes of the once-proud franchise.
“You’ve got a guy that’s won a Super Bowl, that’s going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Haslam said. “That’s a legend. I’ll be honest. There’s a fan part of me, too.
“I sense there’s a strong feeling here that Mike and the team do have things headed in the right direction.”
Free-agent safety Jim Leonhard received a chance to take a physical and meet with some former teammates, but not much else at Bills training camp. He left without entering contract negotiations. … With four interior linemen hurt and not available for practice less than a week into training camp, the Cowboys worked out three of their former guards and agreed to terms with two of them on one-year deals. Owner Jerry Jones said Derrick Dockery and Daniel Loper had already agreed to terms before practice wrapped up. Montrae Holland tweeted that it didn’t look as if he would be able to work out a deal. … Falcons coach Mike Smith held his starters out of the team’s first live tackling scrimmage in hopes of avoiding injuries.