CLEVELAND -- Passion is important to Cleveland Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner.
In fact, it is the passion the fans have for the Browns that brought the 19-year NFL executive to Cleveland in the first place when new owner Jimmy Haslam asked him to join the front office last fall.
“The reaction to the Browns doesn’t surprise me,” Banner said. “I’m here because I knew that was here. One of the most fun elements of running these teams is when things are going well and the community gets behind you and the excitement that creates and impact it has in the community and on its psyche and self-esteem.
“Even though I said that I knew how passionate the marketplace was for the Browns, I think I underestimated the degree. Just seeing how much everybody cares, and I came from Philadelphia where people care a lot, it can be overwhelming. I consider that a good thing, but I was surprised the passion was even greater than I thought.”
Having fans that care about the Browns is what continues to motivate the team and push the players, coaches and front-office staff to strive for success.
“What you really want is passion for your sports team,” Banner said. “Your enemy is apathy. When people have a strong reaction to what we do, whether it’s good or bad, that’s the foundation from which we can build.
“If we were trying to generate interest, it wouldn’t be that much fun, and frankly, we’d have a lot more to do than we have. It’s not always fun to be on the firing line, but the passion reflected in peoples’ reaction is invaluable to us and we appreciate it.”
Banner felt that passion from Browns fans during games, and also following the team’s trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“We don’t mind the heat because it’s a reflection of the passion, and we’re thankful for it and lucky to have it,” Banner said. “I think the thing that was particularly important in winning, because we’re out there trying to win every week, was refuting the notion that we were throwing in the towel on the season, which was the last thing in the world we were going to do.
“The way the team went out and played, whether we won or lost, just seeing how hard they played and how much they cared made an important statement, and I was glad to see that. I never doubted that, but some other people did, and I was happy for them to see the quality of the coaching staff and the character of the players we have. We’re going to do everything we can to win every game as long as we’re here.”