Jimmy Haslam is focused on winning.
During a fan forum conference call with current and former season-ticket holders on Wednesday afternoon, Haslam, who agreed to purchase a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 3, stressed that he has been impressed with the passion the fans have for the Browns and wants to build the organization into a contending team.
“It’s all about people and it’s about getting the right people in the right place, having the right environment and letting people do their jobs,” Haslam said. “That’s what we’re going to work very hard to do in Cleveland.”
Since his agreement to purchase a controlling interest in the Browns, Haslam has attended games in the preseason and regular season, and also visited with fans and signed autographs for them during the Family Night practice. In the preseason-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, Haslam spent a quarter of the game in the Dawg Pound, which he called “a great place.”
“They’re the first people to come, last people to leave,” Haslam said of the Dawg Pound fans. “What was really impressive was people coming up and saying, ‘I’ve been a season-ticket holder for 23 years, 31 years, 24 years.’ Their dedication to the Browns is impressive. That’s why we need to give them a winner.
“The intensity and love of the Cleveland Browns has been overwhelming. We had always heard about it, but you’ve got to actually be here, see it, experience it, and I thought we had a tremendous crowd for the first game. It was a really good game -- unfortunately, we couldn’t pull it out -- and I think we’ll have a great crowd; we need a great crowd and to get our first win on Sunday.”
The Browns lost the season-opener to the Eagles, 17-16, on Sept. 9 and dropped their first regular-season road game to the Bengals, 34-27, last Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
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During the conference call, Haslam said that Richardson called his teammates together on the field during Wednesday’s practice and told them he was “not used to losing two games in two weeks; he was used to losing two games in three years, and he wasn’t going to be out losing.”
“It’s about getting players like Trent that are not only great players, but winners,” Haslam said. “And I think that’s what will turn the team around. I think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s staying with the plan and building through the draft. The Steelers have done that and, traditionally, done that for a long time. We’ll try to replicate that here in Cleveland. We will be involved and we’ll do everything we can to bring a winner to Cleveland.”
One of the participants in the call, Tim from Smithfield, discussed how the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to build fan bases until they were consistently competing for playoff berths and the Super Bowl.
Haslam responded by saying that he would work to improve the team and reenergize the rivalries on the field.
“We’re going to try and restore that rivalry between Cleveland and Pittsburgh to where it ought to be,” Haslam said. “We’re going to do everything we can to awaken that sleeping giant.”