WKYC sports anchor and radio voice of the Browns, Jim Donovan, first confirmed the Browns were for sale. Now he says the Cleveland Browns are not only for sale, they are close to being sold. Period.
For the last few seasons but definitely since the end of the 4-12 season of 2011 the Lerner family has been exploring the landscape for the right buyer for the Browns. They have found their man: Jimmy Haslam III from Knoxville, Tennessee. He is in the final stages of buying controlling interest of the Cleveland Browns.
Team President Mike Holmgren was updated this summer by Randy Lerner while he vacationed in California.
Haslam already is technically in the NFL with an ownership slice of the Pittsburgh Steelers but he's wanted to buy an NFL team for some time. He tried unsuccessfully to buy the Tennessee Titans years ago. Now he will have to dissolve his Steeler interests to take over the Browns but that's an easy thing to do.
Remember owning the Browns was a dream of Al Lerner who bought the team when they came back to the NFL in 1999 for $530 million. When he died in 2001, Randy Lerner had to learn on the fly, the NFL ownership game, something he admits he wasn't ready for.
He has tried, along with his mom , Norma, to make the Browns a winner. But try as they might through several different regimes, it has not happened. So now they want out and let someone else give it a try. That's Jimmy Haslam.
Haslam will be offered a controlling interest of the Browns not 100 percent ownership but that will change through the years when he'll be allowed to have more and more interest in the Browns until he finally has it all.
The Browns have been valued at $977 million. There was an offer made to the Lerners of $730 million in the spring but that was turned down. But now we're on the way to a deal getting done and the Browns will have a new owner. Haslam, a Tennessee businessman is on his way to Cleveland with his millions.
Photos: Browns ownership through the years