Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
New duds on way for 2014: The Browns have notified the NFL they wish to explore changes in their uniforms, but the process won’t be completed until next year.
“Hopefully we’ll unveil uniforms at maybe this time next year for the 2014 season,” owner Jimmy Haslam said to ESPN Cleveland.
Haslam said the drawn-out process requires a formal notification of a uniform change to the NFL, which has occurred. League marketing people then collaborate with suppliers – currently NIKE – to present the team a variety of mockups. The team then may enlist the help of focus groups to whittle down the options.
Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are still acquiring a sense of the sensitivity to the Browns’ traditional colors and bland uniform style.
“You can mark this down – we’re not touching the helmets,” Haslam said.
Another no-no with Haslam: Cheerleaders. “They don’t fit Cleveland,” Haslam said.
Stadium name and improvements: Cleveland Browns Stadium officially is now FirstEnergy Stadium.
Haslam introduced a naming rights deal with Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. at a spiffy press conference in a stadium lounge that featured several politicians, Browns alumni and a video produced by NFL Films highlighting the history of the franchise.
Haslam said he was honoring the request of FirstEnergy to not disclose the terms of the deal. He said it was “long term.” Typical stadium naming rights deals range from $3 million a year to $20 million a year and can run for 20 years.
Haslam said, “The money will go, very simply, to make the Browns more competitive.”
The city of Cleveland’s lease with the Browns gives the team owner rights to all proceeds from stadium naming rights. Haslam said Cleveland City Council must approve the deal and he is “cautiously optimistic” that will happen.
Council President Martin J. Sweeney sounded as if that would be no problem when he said, in remarks at the press conference, “This naming rights question has been around since 1999, and in four months (Haslam) has answered it.”
In other stadium- and facility-related news:
* Browns CEO Joe Banner said he already is meeting with architects to accommodate all organization employees under one roof at the team headquarters in Berea. Currently, dozens of employees are headquartered at FirstEnergy Stadium.
* Haslam said new President Alec Scheiner is charged with improving the game-day experience for fans in the newly renamed stadium. He said improvements could range from cleaner rest rooms, shorter service lines, new advertising signage, wireless capabilities, “all of the above.” Haslam said no decision has been made on whether to replace the natural grass field with artificial turf. “I want to be very careful because there are very strong feelings both ways,” Haslam said.
Personnel search still on: Banner now says the head of his football operations department likely will hold the title of general manager and be the lead evaluator of players. He said he has a front-runner in his mind, but would not comment on old friend Mike Lombardi as a candidate.
Banner said he will interview six candidates, including possibly a current member of the Browns’ personnel department.
“We’re near the completion of the first phase of those interviews. At that point, we’ll decide if we want to interview some more candidates or make a decision based on the people we’ve met,” Banner said.
Banner also said that coach Rob Chudzinski has made some hires to his coaching staff, but the team is not ready to announce them.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.com
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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