BEREA, Ohio (AP) — 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 Wednesday as CEO of the Browns, joining new owner Jimmy Haslam III in trying to turn around a franchise stuck in an almost 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 six 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 oversee Cleveland’s football operations, but it’s not yet known how involved he will be in personnel decisions.
For long-suffering Cleveland fans, Banner represents another new start. However, Banner wants to be different from the previous regimes with the Browns, who have made the playoffs just once since 1999.
”Fans have been through a lot of hopeful starts,” Banner said. ”I don’t want to be the next promiser. We have to deliver.”
Haslam said as he searched for an executive to run his club, Banner’s name continually came up.
”I checked out Joe as thoroughly as anyone I ever checked out,” said Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops. ”
With Banner joining the Browns, team president Mike Holmgren will leave following this season and retire. Holmgren was hired by Lerner in 2009 to turn around the Browns, who returned to the league as an expansion team 13 years ago but have undergone numerous coaching changes and roster overhauls.
General manager Tom Heckert’s future in Cleveland is uncertain. Banner worked with Heckert – and several other former Eagles employees in Cleveland’s front office – in Philadelphia. Banner said Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur and everyone in Cleveland’s personnel department will be evaluated after the season.
”There will be a thorough evaluation of everything we do,” Banner said. ”Whether there will be changes remains to be seen.”
Haslam has said the hiring of Banner will be the only personnel move he intends to make until after the season.