Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - On the same day that it was learned that running back Trent Richardson would undergo knee surgery and star corner Joe Haden could be suspended, incoming Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III was still all smiles.
Haslam simply shook off the news while speaking to reporters prior to the team’s “Family Night” at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“That’s part of football,” Haslam said. “You’re going to have some bad breaks, some good breaks but I’m confident in listening to everybody that we’ve got a good young team that’s headed in the right direction.”
Haslam was unaware that Haden could be suspended or that Richardson would need to go under the knife.
“I don’t know anything about either circumstance,” Haslam said. “I got up here early this morning and I’ve been in meetings until we came to the stadium and [it] was just mentioned that Trent had a little knee issue so I don’t know much about that.
“I don’t know anything about Joe’s situation.”
The news Wednesday is par for the course for the Browns since the team came back. If it can go wrong, it will.
No matter how good things appear to be going, the other shoe always seems to drop.
Defensive tackle Phil Taylor is already lost for half of the season and Saturday linebacker Chris Gocong’s season ended after he tore his Achilles.
But Haslam shook off any ideas of buyers remorse or a cursed team.
“Football is a tough game,” Haslam said. “Injuries are part of the game and probably hurts a team like us when it’s a little younger and maybe a little less depth but we’re building a good team. We’re doing it for the long run. We’re going to do it the right way.
“We’re not going to panic and not do the right things to bring a winner to Cleveland over the long period of time.”
He’s also a realist when it comes to his expectations of a timetable to get the team turned around.
“I don’t know that any more than you do,” Halslam said. “I think the Browns are headed in the right direction. They were 4-12 last year and they’ve had 2 really good drafts in a row.
“I think Tom [Heckert] and his team have done a nice job.”
Haslam can not make any decisions or changes concerning the team until he’s approved by the league and the sale becomes final so he’s been spending most of his time in meetings asking questions and getting to know the business side of the franchise.
He anticipates that the sale of the Browns will be approved in mid-October but hopeful that it could come sooner.
“I assume they’ll make a call here over the next few weeks,” Haslam said. “We’re planning on the change taking place in October.
“If it happens before that, that’s great. If not we certainly understand.”
The process of divesting his shares in the Pittsburgh Steelers is also moving forward as planned.
Haslam has toured Cleveland Browns Stadium many times, most recently this past Saturday, but Wednesday night was the first time he got to see fans in seats.
He is adamant about improving the stadium which enters it’s 14th season.
“We’re going to enhance the stadium and make it a better place for fans,” Haslam said.
As for what is planned, he isn’t sure yet. Haslam is in the process of hiring people to look into to potential improvements and upgrades.
“It’s not going to happen quickly,” Haslam said. “Enhancing a stadium takes a period of time but we’re committed to doing that for the great fans here in Cleveland.”
Haslam remains in awe of the passion of Cleveland fans and said despite being from Tennessee, he’s been welcomed with open arms.
“Unbelievable,” Haslam said. “I was telling some of my friend back home who said ‘What were your 2 main impressions?’ I said first of all I’ve never seen people who like football as much as this community does and second of all we need to win.”