Joe Banner helped transform the Philadelphia Eagles into an NFL power. He’s got another huge challenge – making the Cleveland Browns a consistent winner.
Banner was introduced as CEO of the Browns, joining new owner Jimmy Haslam III in trying to turn around a franchise stuck in a nearly continuous cycle of losing.
Banner spent 19 years with the Eagles, spending 12 seasons as president before leaving the club last season. While he was with Philadelphia, the Eagles went to the playoffs 11 times and won 6 NFC East titles. The 59-year-old will officially start his job on Oct. 25, when Haslam’s $1 billion purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner closes.
Banner is expected to control Cleveland’s day to day football operations, but it’s not yet known how involved he’s going to be in staff decisions.
For tolerant Cleveland fans, Banner represents another new start. However, Banner wants to be different from the previous regimens with the Browns, who’ve made the playoffs just once since 1999.
With Banner joining the Browns, team president Mike Holmgren will leave following this season and retire. Holmgren was employed by Lerner in 2009 to turn round the Browns, who returned to the league as an expansion team 13 years ago but have gone through many coaching changes and roster overhauls.
General Manager Tom Heckert’s future in Cleveland is doubtful. Banner worked with Heckert, Browns coach Pat Shurmur – and a number of other former Eagles staff in Cleveland’s front office – in Philadelphia. Banner declared Heckert, Shurmur and everybody in Cleveland’s staff dept will be evaluated after the season. Football lines
”There isn’t a single one I don’t like personally, have a lot of respect for and I’ve seen them do their roles very well in an environment where I worked right with them,” Banner related. ”I come in with a very positive attitude and impression about all those people.”
Banner expounded he’s not ”necessarily” resigned himself to making changes.
”There will be a thorough evaluation of everything that we do, but whether there’ll be changes or not I think time will answer that for us,” he said.
Haslam has expounded the hiring of Banner will be the only staff move he’s planning to make until after the season.
Banner resigned as Eagles president in June to pursue part-ownership in an NFL team. That is when he met Haslam, who still holds a minority share in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Banner said he was impressed with Haslam’s enthusiasm to revive the once-proud Browns just as he had seen owner Jeff Lurie do with the Eagles.
”Our target is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do, whether it is our work in the community, whether it’s the business that we do and most importantly, and this could be the clear focus of the organization, what we do on the field and our objective to try to win championships,” Banner said. ”We’re going to do that by putting together great people, having a standard mission, working conscientiously and doing everything in a way that everyone will be very proud with this organization and what we represent.”