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Fool Me Once . . .

I'm curious if anyone has any insight into how the NFL has handled expansion and/or the sale of teams with absentee or highly-involved owners over the long term. It seems pretty clear that the Browns got screwed over by good ol' boys club that is the NFL ownership cabal twice. When Al Lerner bought the team, he was told by other owners that Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark were the cream of the crop. Likewise, Haslam buys the team, and this same group tells him that he couldn't do any better than Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

I want to know if this is typical of the "guidance" that new owners receive, and if so, whether or not others have had the sense to think twice before taking the advice of the very same people who will be competing against them. Terry Pluto has pointed out that NFL owners as a whole did not appreciate the immediate success enjoyed by the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, which led them to accelerate the timetable during which the Browns would have to identify and hire an FO, coaching staff, and take the field. The most recent other points of comparison for expansion franchises are the Seahawks and Buccaneers, and while they both languished for years, they both entered the league a few decades ago, which may make a comparison useless.

In some ways, it boggles my mind that an aggressive businessman who is willing to bend the law to the breaking point for competitive advantage would listen to people who planned the rebirth of the team he himself bought specifically to deny it as much as possible any competitive advantage whatsoever. In other ways, I find Haslam's gullibility somewhat unsurprising. People tend to trust other people who belong to the same social group, particularly a small group of elites who represent a well-organized, self-conscious class both in and for itself like the billionaires who own NFL teams.

I conclude by asking, is the situation with Randy Lerner and the Browns where the league exercised so much influence over the sale unprecedented? What is the typical "grooming process" for a new NFL owner? Upon taking control of a preexisting franchise, is it normal for a new group to effect a wholesale housecleaning? If so, to what extent have other neophyte owners taken the advice of their peers in making critical personnel decisions?

Thanks for taking the time to read, and, of course, go Browns.

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