August 27, 2014

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Browns hire Cowboys executive Alec Scheiner as president

CEO Joe Banner’s reorganization of the Browns started at the top with his first hire.

Scheiner

Alec Scheiner was named president Tuesday, and he will oversee the day-to-day business operations, including in-game stadium enhancements and local broadcasting. Scheiner spent the last eight years with the Cowboys, the last five as senior vice president and general counsel.

Scheiner will be charged with building a “really strong single brand” through marketing and media, and improving the fans’ experience at the stadium.

“We brought a lot of energy and creativity to it. And that would be the goal in Cleveland,” he said on a conference call. “I understand the markets are different and the tradition is different and the fans are different, but the energy that we bring to it and the creativity we bring to it and the thoughtfulness we bring to it will be the same.”

The focus of the fans and media remains on the field and the changes Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam may make. General manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur aren’t expected to be retained, and reports continue to link former Browns personnel executive and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi as a replacement for Heckert.

“Starting to go down the path of speculating on these things is not going to be helpful at this point,” Banner said. “We’re still going to decide at the end of the season on the people that are here and that will lead to whatever the next steps are at that point.”

Banner said he expects the decisions to come “quickly” after the season, which ends Dec. 30 in Pittsburgh.

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“We have not made decisions but obviously as time has gone on we’ve thought about it more, we’ve talked about it more, more factors that will influence the final decision have become clearer and clearer,” he said. “I don’t want to make it sound like we’re in the same place we were two or four or six weeks ago. That has advanced quite a bit. But we’re not at the point where we’ve made definitive decisions.”

Can anything in the final two weeks impact the decisions?

“Not something new but I think continuing to spend time with them and observe things I think helps you gain confidence that you’re doing the right thing and you’re being objective and you’re looking at it the right way,” Banner said.

Heckert’s contract gives him final say over the roster, and he wants to keep it. Banner said it’s premature to say who’ll have that power next season.

“We’re going to see when we get the team together what the best way to do that will be,” he said.

Scheiner assumes the title held by Mike Holmgren, who no longer had a place when Haslam teamed up with Banner and whose last day was Nov. 30. But Scheiner will stay mostly on the business side of the organization, whereas Holmgren oversaw business and football.

Scheiner led the business operations of the Cowboys, including planning, budgeting, human resources and football analytics. One of his duties was to oversee the planning, financing, construction and marketing of Cowboys Stadium.

“We created something that is perfectly fit for the Dallas Cowboys,” said Scheiner, who started talking to Banner about a potential partnership in June, then had a series of meetings with Haslam. “And I’d like to do the same thing in Cleveland. Create something that links us to the past and links us to the community in a way that when Browns fans outside Cleveland come, they know exactly where they are and they enjoy it.”

Scheiner, who will start Jan. 7, said it’s too soon to talk about specific changes to the stadium, including whether a dome would be an option. Banner said it’s premature to address changes to the uniform or the addition of cheerleaders. They’re down the priority list and will need to be studied.

The Browns also announced executive vice president of business operations Bryan Wiedmeier will transition into a new role in which he will work closely with Banner. Wiedmeier will focus on long-term strategic planning, including stadium projects and other capital endeavors.

Roster moves

Strong safety T.J. Ward and rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson were placed on injured reserve with knee injuries suffered Sunday in the loss to the Redskins. The team said they won’t need surgery.

Ward, who reportedly suffered a bone bruise, started all 14 games with 68 tackles, three forced fumbles, a sack and an interception. Johnson started eight of 10 games with 32 tackles.

The Browns signed linebacker Adrian Moten (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and defensive back Prince Miller (5-9, 210), and promoted defensive lineman Hall Davis (6-4, 270) from the practice squad. They’ve spent time with multiple teams and have seen limited action.

Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who was waived Monday, was claimed by the Dolphins.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.