Mike Holmgren addressed the media prior to the start of Browns practice Friday afternoon about owner Randy Lerner selling the team. Here's what the team president said.
(Opening statement)- "I think anything I would say has probably already been written. The club is in negotiations with a buyer, an investor, and it's an ongoing thing right now. Randy's (Lerner) number one concern, in our meetings in the last couple of days has been that it not become a distraction, if possible, for the coaching staff and the players. They have a hugely important job to do. We're in the business of winning football games and we have a good young team that I think is on the verge of becoming what you all wanted and what we all wanted. That's his number one concern. Moving forward, things will be written, things will be said and I would ask you to go through Neal (Gulkis) and we will try to sort it out and try to answer as many things as we go along. Obviously there are some things that we can't talk about right now. The league has certain protocols that you all know about where they have to vote on any sort of change and those types of things. We're following those rules, we're in contact with the league and doing what we have to do that way, but the number one thing I think our owner wanted me to pass along to you was that this is a great community that deserves a fine football team. I think we're getting close and he just does not want any of this to disrupt that for the coaches or the players. If there are a couple of questions I will try to answer them to the best of my ability and then I am going to watch practice."
(On his future)- "My future is bright. Tony (Grossi), that will be answered probably down the road and you control the things you can control and do the best you can. I think we've done a lot of great things here in getting to this point, but we will see."
(On if he was surprised to learn the team was for sale and when he first found out)- "I was in California this summer and Randy contacted me and gave me preliminary reports. Since that point, we have been in constant contact. He's kept me abreast of every single thing that has been going on and he has been more than fair that way. Clearly there had to be some confidentiality involved in this thing, but I appreciate that he involved me in this. I think you are always a little bit surprised when something of this magnitude comes up I think, but it happens. This stuff happens."
(On if it will be a complete sale)- "What I can say is that he is giving up a controlling interest in the team. That's what I can say. As details come out we can elaborate a little bit more, but it is a controlling interest."
(On if this changes his plan to fulfill his contract)- "To me, a contract is a contract. I have said that before and I try to be honest with you about that. We'll deal with those things as we go down the road. Right now I am the President of the team and that's how I am operating."
(On if there is a guarantee that the team is not moving)- "It's my understanding that from the get-go that's been one of the stipulations and both principles understand that. The Cleveland Browns are not going anywhere. The Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland Browns and they're going to stay."
(On if he told the players about this)- "Pat (Shurmur) talked to the players this morning. We had an email that went around to the folks in the building and I plan to talk to them as a group next week. I don't want people off balance. This goes on on occasion in professional sports, as you know, but Pat talked to the coaches and players this morning."
(On if there is a timetable for when this will get done)- "I can't answer that. Honestly, I really can't answer that right now. All I go by is league protocols and what has to happen there. I know nothing is finalized until the league votes on it."
(On if Joe Banner is a part of this)- "I don't know. I honestly don't know."
(On the report that this deal is close to being done)- "Like I said, sometimes you guys have a little more knowledge than I do. I don't know. I can't comment on that."
(On if he has spoken with the prospective new owner)- "No, I have not. He is a very impressive man when you read about him and people that I have talked to who know him say he is a tremendous guy."
(On if Randy Lerner said why he going forward this way)- "Well of course he and I had a lot of discussions about this and he has a deep love for this team. He's been with the franchise since his father passed away, as you know, and running it and trying his best to do the right things. I think as his kids have gotten older and his life has changed a little bit and he was very concerned with and interested in the right person stepping forward if he was going to sell the football team. Apparently, all the stars aligned in the last few months."
(On if this would be a Lerner family decision)- "You would have to ask them. I am staying out of that one, but I would think so. It's a family business."