The Cleveland Browns officially belong to Jimmy Haslam III.
His $1.05 billion US purchase of the NFL franchise from Randy Lerner was closed Thursday, just nine days after the sale was approved by the league's owners. Haslam now owns 70 per cent of the team, and the truck stop magnate will get the other 30 per cent from Lerner in four years.
Haslam watched practice and spent several minutes chatting with coach Pat Shurmur as the Browns (1-6) continued preparing for Sunday's home game against the San Diego Chargers.
New Browns CEO Joe Banner did not begin his position as expected because he went to Boston to be with his ill father, a team spokesman said. Banner spent 19 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the last 12 as team president.
Holmgren on his way out
Earlier this week, outgoing president Mike Holmgren had high praise for Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J and still has a minority ownership stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Jimmy will bring a great enthusiasm," Holmgren said. "He's out front, he's enthusiastic and he has a lot of energy. He wants this to be right, he wants this to go well and he's committed to do that. I don't think there have been many things in his life where he has committed to it that hasn't happened.
"I think it's a wonderful thing for the city of Cleveland and a great thing for the Browns organization."
Holmgren is also familiar with Banner, who will oversee the Browns' day-to-day football operations.
"I've known Joe Banner for a long time," Holmgren said. "When he and Jeffrey Lurie came, and Jeffrey bought the Philadelphia Eagles and Joe became the president there, my good friend Andy Reid became the coach. We've been very close over the years."
Holmgren has not committed to staying with the Browns for the remainder of the season to help with the transition of front offices. The 64-year-old Holmgren also said he missed coaching and left open the possibility he will return to the sideline.