New Browns owner not planning immediate changes
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Jimmy Haslam III won't spend his first days as owner of the Browns handing out pink slips.
Haslam, whose $1 billion purchase of Cleveland's franchise is expected to be approved by NFL owners later this month, said Thursday through a team spokesman that he has no plans to make any personnel changes "until after the year.'' At 0-4, the Browns are the only winless team in the AFC, leading to speculation that coach Pat Shurmur and his staff could be in trouble unless there's a turnaround.
But during an interview with Fox Business, Haslam noted the Browns' youth - they're the league's youngest team - and said he believes the team is improving under Shurmur and team president Mike Holmgren.
"I don't think anybody thinks 0-4 (is acceptable) and certainly Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur don't think it is and we don't think it is,'' Haslam said in the interview. "But we've got a young team. We're building. I think we're heading in the right direction. We don't officially own the team yet and we've said all along that we're not going to make any comments on personnel until after we own the team. That's in about two weeks.
"And candidly we'll be halfway through the football season then, so any personnel decisions we'd make would be toward the end of the year.''
Haslam, a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has spent the past few weeks familiarizing himself with the Browns. He has been at several practices and was on the field before Thursday's workout speaking with Shurmur, who is just 4-16 in two seasons. The Browns have lost 10 straight games dating to last season and will visit the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (2-2) on Sunday.
The Browns' sale will be approved by owners at their Oct. 16 meeting in Chicago. Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, will attend the session along with Holmgren, who is in the third year of a five-year contract he signed under owner Randy Lerner.
Holmgren has said he intends to fulfill his contract.