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Haslam, Banner recognize opportunity

Posted Dec 31, 2012

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner said they felt the next coach of the team would take on a great opportunity in the NFL.

The Browns were the last Cleveland team to bring home a league title when they defeated the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, to win the NFL Championship on Dec. 27, 1964.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are looking to end that championship drought and feel good about the team as they begin their search for a new head coach and general manager following the decision to relieve Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert of their respective responsibilities on Monday.

“We feel really good about this opportunity here,” Haslam said. “We think we have a good, young team in place. This is a great football town. We think the person that can come in here and make the Cleveland Browns a winner will be recognized as one of the great coaches of all-time and will be beloved in this area.

“We’re confident that this is a good situation. We’re not going to worry about who else is out there looking for a coach. We have our people in mind and we’re going to work hard to bring the right person here to Cleveland.”

Haslam added that he and Banner bear the responsibility of finding the right coach and general manager in order to create the stability they came from with previous NFL teams. Haslam was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers before purchasing a controlling interest in the Browns earlier this year. In the last 40 years, the Steelers have had three coaches, Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Noll (1969-1991), and Super Bowl winners in Bill Cowher (1992-2006) and Mike Tomlin (2007-present).

Banner came to the Browns after spending 19 years in the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office. For the last 13 years of his tenure in Philadelphia, Banner worked with coach Andy Reid, who was let go by the Eagles on Monday.

“We think this is a great organization, despite the changes that have occurred in the past,” Haslam said. “We’re well aware that this has been a carousel and candidly, it’s Joe and my jobs to find the right coach and the right GM and bring stability long-term for the organization. That’s our role. We take it very responsibly, very seriously. We’ve researched a lot of people and we’ll be talking to some of those people here in the next few weeks. Our goal is to get the best person. If we happen to find that person within a week, that’s great, and if it takes a month, that’s great also.”

In addition to the Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Eagles, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers announced coaching changes on Monday.

Banner said the increased competition in the search for a new head coach and general manager will not deter them from pursuing the candidates he and Haslam believe could best lead the franchise into the future.

“We don’t believe that there’s any job in the league that’s going to be available that could tell a better story about why you want to come to this particular team, to this particular city,” Banner said. “We go into this extremely confident that we can go after the top people available and that we have a very good chance of being successful in convincing them that this is the right situation. Most of these top coaches are focused on finding a place where they think they can win, and we think we can make a very good case why this is the best opportunity in the league right now.

“I think we have a foundation here to move forward and I think the team is better than it was. I think it’s got a ways to go and I hope, with the right hires here, we’ll be able to accelerate the process of getting where we want to be. We want to do it in a way that’s sustainable.”