After reading the comments pertaining to Haslam's reinstatement as CEO of America's favorite truck stop, my mind started churning to figure out whether Jimmy was all that much different than Randy Lerner in their capacities as Cleveland Browns owners. This led to an even more fundamental question- what qualities define an owner of a sports franchise? Here is an attempt to at least partially answer this question, followed with my 2 cents on the current ownership situation.
Quality #1- Motivation: The owner's motivation in administering to his/her franchise is crucial to defining club strategy. If I were a math teacher, I'd say that motivation is like a vector with direction and magnitude. But as I wish to avoid the collective jeering of such an analogy on a football site, let's think of motivation in two different areas- passion and purpose. Passion relates to the amount that the owner cares, and energy exerted in maintaining the club. Passionate owners would be Al Davis and Jerry Jones. Apathetic owners would be absentee Randy Lerner and whoever owns the Toronto Blue Jays (when is the last time you've heard of that guy doing anything!?) The second fundamental piece of motivation is purpose. Is the owner's goal to win at all costs (Jerry Jones), turn a profit (former Marlin's owner Wayne Huizenga) or bring back a moderated NAZI party (Marge Schott).
Quality #2- Sport Acumen: The owner will have a variable knowledge of whatever sport they own. Al Davis (before his crazy senile days) was a football expert... Bob Kraft, maybe not as much. Dan Snyder, football moron. While having a high IQ in the sport is not essential, you do need to know enough to sort the wheat from the chaff in the staffing interviews. Owners don't need to understand play calling, but they should know the difference between a West Coast and vertical passing offense. Or the 3-4 versus 4-3.
Quality #3- Business Savvy: This is the owner's ability to manage a business. An NFL franchise functions as a business in many ways, and many business skills are transferable. I'm sure there are readers with MBA's that can expound on this much better than I can, so I will let them as they see fit.
Quality #4- Self Awareness: The owner will also have some level of self awareness concerning their expertise in football. Having a low sports IQ (or business savvy) can be compensated with an awareness that this is low. The owner may then adjust their organizational architecture to appropriately compensate. Owners such as young Dan Snyder and old Al Davis had fairly low self awareness. Bob Kraft, the Rooney's and Bob Howsam have better awareness.
In an ideal owner, I'd like to see passionate motivation to win, with high levels of sports acumen business savvy and self awareness. Clearly, this is a rarity (but we can dream right?)
How do Lerner and Haslam meet these criteria?
Motivation: I think Lerner was definitely motivated to win, but his passion for ownership was low. This was clear when Holmgren was attending the ownership meetings on his behalf. Lerner though was willing to sacrifice money for the overall good of his team. When he was paying Crennel and Savage a pile of money to fire them just after contract renegotiations/extensions, he still did the right thing. Haslam's motivation, whether greater towards profit or winning is yet unclear. Why does he want to own a sports team? He took the reins just long enough to give it some direction, then backed away again to his normal job. I think as long as we can assume that winning is the most profitable option, then Haslam will be on board. If he's the owner who would sacrifice on the bottom line for a winner, it is too soon to tell.
Sports Acumen: I think both Lerner and Haslam are low. Haslam maybe a bit higher, depending on what he could absorb with Pittsburgh
Business Savvy: Both are wildly rich, but I think Haslam built his empire a bit more creatively than Lerner. I expect Haslam to be just as deft with the Browns as he has with his precious truck stops. Haslam seems to be less savvy he seems to trust the wrong people. The Banner and Lombardi hires both seem suspect. Perhaps judgment is passed too early- time will tell. Lerner was clearly not able to hire a good staff for many years, especially as the Browns were notorious for corporate infighting (remember Phil Savage?). Hopefully BanBardi prove to be a smoother tandem.
Self Awareness: This is a tricky assessment. I'd say both are fairly self aware. Lerner was less so initially, but he eventually hired Holmgren to do all of the things he learned that he couldn't (or didn't want to) do. But I think Haslam's return to the Flying J shows that he's aware of the limited need for his day-to-day meddling. Banner has the title of CEO for a reason, to administer the company. So awareness that he needed such an individual is quite high.
If you've made it this far, I'm grateful for your patience and welcome your mockery (as this is entirely too long). Hopefully this stirs some interesting conversation.