Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Are the Cleveland Browns for sale?
According to them – they aren’t.
Cleveland Browns vice president of media relations Neal Guklis denied a report this afternoon from Howard Eskin of 94 WIP and NBC 10 TV in Philadelphia who Tweeted that he heard owner Randy Lerner may put the team on the market.
“The Cleveland Browns are not for sale,” Gulkis said. “You can quote me.”
The tweet from Eskin set off a firestorm of speculation in Cleveland about the future of the team should it in fact be on the market.
“Now hear #Eagles Ex Pres Joe Banner interested in getting group together to buy Buff Bills.. Hear Cleveland and St louis may also be 4 sale,” Eskin tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Eskin joined Bull and Fox shortly after the Tweet on 92.3 The Fan to clarify what he said is a possibility that the Browns could be for sale.
“I don’t know how serious (the rumor is),” Eskin said. “Obviously there’s a thought there because if NFL people are getting a feel for this then there is a thought there that the Browns could possibly be sold.
“For the right price anything could be sold.”
Related: AUDIO – Howard Eskin with Bull & Fox: Hearing Browns “May Be For Sale.”
Eskin cited a single league source who told him of the possibility that the Browns could be for sale along with the St. Louis Rams while he was investigating Banner’s interest in assembling a group to buy the Buffalo Bills.
“My understanding is that the Bills are his first priority but I was also told by an NFL source that Cleveland and St. Louis may be for sale,” Eskin said. “Cleveland and St. Louis were secondary in the information that I got.”
Randy Lerner inherited the team from his late father Al Lerner, who passed away in October of 2002.
The Browns have been in a constant state of flux since.
The team has had three presidents, three general managers and four head coaches over a span that has included eight double-digit loss seasons in the last nine years.
The Lerner family won the bidding for the expansion Browns in 1998 and paid a record (at the time for a professional sports franchise) $530 million for the team which has struggled since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Forbes Magazine listed the value of the Browns at $977 million at the beginning of last season.
Al Lerner was a business investor with former Browns owner Art Modell.
Lerner helped negotiate the relocation of the original Browns franchise for Modell to Baltimore in 1995 in an effort to recoup debts owed by Modell to Lerner.
The team became the Baltimore Ravens in the 1996 season and Lerner was awarded the “new” Browns, who returned to the league in 1999.
As of now, the official word from the Browns is that the team is not for sale.