Updated: Mar 16, 2020
By Andy Kopel
By: Tarrian Rodgers
The underdog story has long been told in sports. As sports fans, we often root for the underdog because psychologically me might see ourselves in some of these teams. In the case of the Cleveland Browns they are a team America wants to love, but ultimately laugh at.
The sad reality of the Cleveland Browns is they were once a proud franchise. In the 1940s, Paul Brown, led the Browns to an undefeated season decades before Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins. Believe it or not the Brown’s dominated the 1950s, with three NFL Championships between 1950-1955. The Browns were an innovative juggernaut led by legends such as Otto Graham, Bobby Mitchell and Jim Brown, who many experts consider the greatest football player of all time.
Now, the Browns are a shell of their former greatness. The NFL’s punching bag. They are led by an impatient, short-tempered, erratic owner named Jimmy Haslam. Before becoming an owner, Haslam, who inherited his family’s oil business called “Pilot Flying J,” was forced to pay $92 million dollars in penalties and over $56 million in restitution to customers. Haslam is the rare sports team owner exposed (“allegedly”) as “criminally” bad at running a team and running a company. Oh well… Jimmy did the only thing that any leader would do in that situation, he claimed he didn't know what was going on. Even though the FBI claimed that he did. Fortunately for him, he avoided jail time! Unfortunately for Browns fans, he became their owner.
Let’s really put Jimmy Haslam in context for a second. The Browns division rivals, the Steelers, have had three coaches since 1969; the Browns have had four coaches since Haslam purchased the club in October 2012. Haslam’s longest-tenured coach or G.M. is Hue Jackson at two and a half seasons. All Jackson did was go 3-36-1 in his tenure. Since 2012, Haslem has compiled a 21-75-1 record including a 0-16 season in 2017. After that embarrassing season the fans humiliated themselves by having a 0-16 parade celebrating embarrassment and mediocrity.
Haslam’s awful win-loss record is but one factor that truly makes Haslam one of the worst owners in sports. Just as awe-inspiring is his clueless, nay non-existent, pro sports business acumen. This void extends way beyond the football field. Currently the Browns have a total franchise value of $1.95 billion, which is 29th among the league’s 32 teams. With Haslam in charge it has been one disaster after another. That includes the decision to create a front office based off baseball’s sabermetrics, with the face of Moneyball helping run the show. This move hasn’t proved to be innovative or cutting-edge.
In past years the Browns have banked the future of its franchise on the unholy trinity of Johnny Manziel, who Haslem claimed a homeless man told him to draft; Josh Gordon who couldn’t stay weed free; and Justin Gilbert…who?
If you’re a Brown fan, how much more can you take? Cleveland sports has tried in recent years to turn the corner and breed winners with the Indians going to the World Series and the Cavaliers winning an NBA Championship. Browns fans you deserve better. For what your owner has put you all through the last eight years he has my unanimous vote as being nominated as the worst owner in sports.
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