BEREA – Joe Banner was introduced this morning as CEO of the Browns. He sees the franchise as a sleeping giant, one with a passionate fan base, historic tradition and all the ingredients necessary to succeed.
“That’s why we’re here,” he said, sitting next to new owner Jimmy Haslam at a packed news conference. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. It’s just waiting to happen.”
The Haslam-Banner tandem is the latest regime to try to fix the Browns. There have been five previous ones since the franchise returned in 1999, and all have crashed and burned to varying degrees. The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1994 and has just two winning seasons.
“I don’t want to be the next promiser,” Banner said. “We want to deliver.”
Banner spent the previous 19 years with the Eagles, including the final 12 as president. As he did in Philadelphia, he will oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization in Cleveland.
He worked for years in Philadelphia with Browns general manager Tom Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur, much of the player personnel department and some of the assistant coaches.
He said it’s premature to say if there will be sweeping changes following the season. Haslam said Tuesday when he was unanimously approved by NFL owners that everyone will be evaluated after the season and no changes will be made before then.
“I have a lot of respect and good feelings for these people,” Banner said. “We will thoroughly evaluate everything. And time will answer that.”
Banner said he left the Eagles in search of a new challenge. He found that with the Browns, an organization without a recent history of success and in need of change.
He wouldn’t give a timetable for a turnaround, but cringed when a five-year plan was suggested.
“You’ll have to put me in a straitjacket if it takes that long,” he said.
Banner will replace president Mike Holmgren, who will retire after the season. In the interim, he will assist the transition to Haslam and Banner.
Holmgren will meet with the media Thursday or Friday.
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