BEREA – Browns president Mike Holmgren confirmed owner Randy Lerner plans to sell “controlling interest” in the team to Jimmy Haslam.
Holmgren spoke this afternoon as the first full-squad practice of training camp started.
“What I can say is that he is giving up a controlling interest in it,” Holmgren said. “As details come out, we can elaborate a little bit more.”
Holmgren said the Browns will remain in Cleveland despite the switch in ownership.
“It’s my understanding that from the get-go that’s been one of the stipulations and both principals understand that,” he said. “The Cleveland Browns aren’t going anywhere. The Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland Browns and they’re going to stay.”
Rumors had been circulating for some time that Lerner was interested in selling the franchise he’s owned since his father, Al, died in 2002. But in June, Holmgren told reporters the Browns weren’t for sale. He said Lerner called him over the summer with a preliminary report.
“I think you’re always a little bit surprised when something of this magnitude comes up,” Holmgren said. “But it happens. This stuff happens.”
Holmgren signed a five-year deal in January 2010 and repeatedly said he plans to fulfill the contract, despite rumblings he isn’t happy here. The ownership change could end his tenure early.
“To me, a contract’s a contract. I’ve said that to you before, I’ve tried to be honest with you about that,” Holmgren said. “But we’ll deal with those things as we go down the road. For right now, I’m the president of the team and that’s how I’m operating.
“You control the things you can control and do the best you can. I think we’ve done a lot of great things here in getting to this point. But we’ll see.”
Holmgren said Lerner’s primary concern is the coaches and players not be distracted as they prepare for the season.
“They have a hugely important job to do,” Holmgren said. “We’re in the business of winning football games and we have a good young team that I think is on the verge of becoming what you all wanted and what we all wanted. That’s his No. 1 concern.”
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