Harris: Haslam envisions Steeler Way with Browns
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If you listen closely to what Jimmy Haslam III said and didn't say about becoming owner of the Cleveland Browns last week, you know he plans on turning his investment into Steelers Midwest.
Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, expect Haslam, a Steelers minority owner the past four years, to remake the Browns in his — and the Steelers' — image.
“They do things the right way. They have the Steeler Way of doing things,” said Haslam, whose new team has lost 22 of the past 24 games against the Steelers. “I think now we will have the Browns way of doing things.”
It could mean Haslam wooing front office talent such as Steelers director of football and business administration Omar Khan, who wants to be an NFL general manager but is stuck behind general manager Kevin Colbert.
With former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner set to join Haslam's group, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the future of current Browns president Mike Holmgren could be in question, along with the job security of Browns general manager Tom Heckert.
The Browns are Haslam's team, and he's going to want to bring some of his people into key positions. Who better than Khan, a Steelers guy doing things the Steelers way?
On the personnel side, it could mean Haslam's Browns pursuing Steelers players such as wide receiver Mike Wallace, currently unsigned as a restricted free agent, if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year.
The Steelers' impact, by virtue of an NFL-best six Super Bowl championships, can be felt all the way in Arizona, where coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former Steelers offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher, has stocked his coaching staff and roster with former Steelers.
The same thing could happen in Cleveland under Haslam's stewardship.
“I'll say this: The Rooneys are everything you have ever heard and read that they are,” Haslam said about Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney and president Art Rooney II during his introductory press conference with the Cleveland media. “They are class people, they do things right.”
What Haslam didn't say was how he plans on doing those things. While admitting it would be “very presumptuous and very poor form for us to make any personnel decisions or comments” until he officially replaces Randy Lerner during the next scheduled owners meeting in October, Haslam provided insight into his ownership style.
“Somebody asked me about being hands on because we run our main business hands on,” said Haslam, who owns the Pilot Flying J travel center chain. “I looked over at Mike (Holmgren) and said, ‘Mike probably doesn't want us to be hands on,' but I think our style is going to be involved. I think you'll find that we are open and transparent.”
In some ways, Haslam comes across like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, but minus the massive ego. He's upfront and gregarious and doesn't mind sharing his thoughts with the media and fans. Cleveland reporters will love him after dealing with the reclusive Lerner.
And since Haslam's paying the bills, he's already made it clear he wants to be an involved owner. Up to a point.
Haslam wasn't kidding when he said he learned a lot as a Steelers minority owner. He watched the Rooneys and their front-office staff operate, and he learned that there's a time to take charge and a time to step aside and let the experts on your payroll do their job.
“I spent a lot of time with Kevin Colbert picking his brain over the four years,” Haslam said. “... Of (Cleveland's) last 10 first round draft picks, only two (are) here, am I right? And to be honest, your first-round draft pick has to not just make the team, not just start, he has to be All-Pro.
“They (Steelers) build through the draft and those are the things that I learned there.”
Haslam's learning curve continues as he attempts to remake his Browns in the Steelers' image.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Concert aims to heal wounds of Armstrong veterans
- Grant helps Armstrong agency provide cribs to needy families
- Armstrong fire departments sharpen river rescue skills
- 2B Walker, Pirates smash through Tigers pitching in road victory
- Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel
- Penguins notebook: Rutherford proves savvy in deal
- Pirates notebook: Cole cool about hostile comment
- W. Elizabeth mulls cost of new garage
- Gameday: Pirates at Tigers, July 2, 2015