Steelers minority owner buys Browns


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Here's one to make Cleveland fans shake their heads: A partial owner of the hated Steelers is buying the Browns.

Randy Lerner reached a deal to sell the club to Tennessee truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam III -- a minority stockholder in the rival Steelers.

Lerner reportedly will sell 70 percent of the Browns to Haslam now, with the other 30 percent reverting to him four years after the closing date, but details have not officially been announced.

"This is a very exciting time for my family and me," Haslam said through the team.

"To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL -- something all Browns fans want and deserve."

Haslam scheduled a news conference at Browns headquarters for today.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney had praise for Haslam, even if he is buying a division rival.

"He was a great partner, a good man. He'll be very good for the league. He knows football," Rooney said.

As for buying a division rival?

"Hey, you have to be ready to play," Rooney said.

While the papers have been signed, the NFL still must approve the sale. Getting the nod from 24 of the 32 teams is required, and no date has been set for a vote because the sale has not been presented to the league yet. Approval is expected by the end of September.

ESPN reported the sale price was more than $1 billion. For comparison, the Miami Dolphins sold at a value of more than $1 billion in 2009.

The Browns were valued at $977 million a year ago by Forbes magazine, 20th in the NFL.

Lerner, whose family has owned the franchise since it returned to the NFL in 1999, first announced he was in negotiations to sell the club last week. The late Al Lerner, Randy's father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.

Randy Lerner also is the owner of Aston Villa, a club in the English Premier League.

The expansion Browns entered the NFL in 1999 and have made the playoffs just once, a 2002 first-round loss to the Steelers. They've had only two winning records in 13 seasons and are 68-140 since they returned.

Panthers

The Jeff Otah era is over in Carolina. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney announced the team had terminated the contract of the offensive tackle, a former first-round draft pick from Pitt, after he failed a physical. Otah's agent said his client is "one thousand percent" committed to playing again this season and has no plans to retire. Otah plans to attend LeCharles Bentley's Offensive Line Academy in Cleveland to continue to strengthen this knee and work on his conditioning so he can continue playing.

Eagles

Philadelphia traded linebackers Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Kevin Thomas and a conditional seven-round pick in the 2013 draft.

Lions

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has met with the players union and teams about what can be done after a series of offseason arrests. Goodell was in Detroit Thursday, visiting the Lions. He said he may discipline defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who is charged with marijuana possession and a DUI in two separate cases in Alabama, before the courts have their say.

Bills

Buffalo signed undrafted rookie free-agent running back Zach Brown a week into training camp. Brown completed his college career at Pitt last season, and had 357 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 11 games. He spent the 2007-10 seasons at Wisconsin, where he had 1,152 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns in 36 games.

Broncos

Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein is setting his alarm for the wee hours Saturday morning even though Denver's stadium scrimmage isn't until mid-afternoon. Unrein is hoping to watch his girlfriend, Olympic trap shooter Corey Cogdell, strike gold in London.

"Hopefully I'll be really excited because she won gold and I'll go out there and have a good scrimmage," he said.

Steelers

First Published August 3, 2012 4:00 AM


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