CLEVELAND – New Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner joined several players and staff members in volunteering this afternoon at the Cleveland Foodbank. Banner exchanged his suit coat for a Browns apron and helped pack cardboard boxes with food to be shipped to local shelters and pantries.
Philanthropy is a priority for Banner, and this was his first opportunity to participate as a member of the Browns organization.
“So as I’m learning about everything we’re doing, I think it was important for me to see this and show my support and be out here with everybody else,” he said. “I’m amazed as I go around and learn how many things the Browns are doing. I think we have to do a better job of letting people see it so they know just how engaged we are.
“And it’s a fundamental commitment of the new ownership to be engaged in this community and be doing the right thing and trying to help out. We have a unique opportunity by being the Browns to be able to make a difference and we’re going to utilize that.”
Banner has been on the job less than a month and is still evaluating the entire operation. He was seated in new owner Jimmy Haslam’s box at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday as the Browns lost 23-20 to Dallas in overtime. The Browns dropped to 2-8, and all but one of the losses was undecided in the fourth quarter.
“You’re learning a lot of things,” Banner said of the narrow defeats. “Obviously you’re seeing every individual player play and how they’re doing. In addition to that, you’re in a very profound way seeing the coaching staff able to keep everybody motivated, working hard, trying hard, which where the record is is something that is a good indication of the coaching staff doing a good job with the players. Those are the kinds of things you’re looking at at this point.”
Banner saw the same type of struggles early in his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, but doesn’t think the focus should be solely on finishing.
“You just got to play good from the beginning to the end,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the play in the first quarter that you forget about by the fourth quarter that actually created the situation that was close. I think part of what you learn is that every single play in the game matters and you never know which one’s going to affect the outcome of the game, especially in a close game.”
One item high on Banner’s priority list is improving the fan experience at Cleveland Browns Stadium. He got another firsthand look at Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion palace in Arlington, Texas.
“It’s a spectacular stadium and there’s a lot to learn and be interested in,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult to look at our particular stadium with the existing configuration and figure out what may be applicable.
“There’s some challenges in the existing building, including just kind of the location, where you’ve all got to enter from one side. But I think maybe it can provoke thoughts that apply to us.”