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Issue Date: December 2012

Jimmy Haslam’s Browns

Tony Grossi

 Jimmy Haslam is the antithesis of Randy Lerner. Fire vs. ice. Football vs. futbol. Outwardly passionate, the new Browns owner resigned his post as CEO of Pilot Flying J to devote his energy to the team. He is also unabashed about injecting change in a franchise that's grown stale in the name of tradition.

Since agreeing to purchase the Browns for $1.05 billion, Haslam has continually vowed to bring winning football back to the city. The 58-year-old sat in the Dawg Pound for one quarter of an exhibition game and visited with fans in a Stadium Club lounge. During training camp, Haslam interrogated GM Tom Heckert about the most anonymous players on the roster, and then addressed those players by their first names the next time he saw them. He even prowls the practice field in coaching attire.

And, yes, Haslam wears his emotions like his ever-present orange tie. During his first official game as owner, TV cameras caught him grimacing at the sight of a key dropped pass and glaring when his head coach chose to punt on fourth-and-1 late in the game.

So, as passionate sorts ourselves, we'll bark in agreement every time he talks like this: "I've said this a thousand times and will continue to say so, we're going to do everything we can to bring a winning team to the Browns."

CM | What can you do immediately to turn things around?

JH | You'll see us with a very visible presence. I think you've seen that already. We're going to be in Cleveland and we're going to be in Cleveland a lot.

CM | Will you model your role after other NFL owners?

JH | You have to take what works well for others, but still be yourself. • I had five people that reported to me at Pilot Flying J. They're all smarter than I am and they're all better at their role than I am. We let them do their jobs, but on the other hand, we question them, we push them, we challenge them, we hold them accountable.

CM | How do you plan on improving the fan experience
at the stadium?

JH | It's everything from how you're treated when you walk in the stadium, candidly, to how long you have to wait in line, to are the bathrooms clean? ... Let's be realistic, 80 to 90 percent of that is whether you win the game.

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