Cleveland Browns team president Alec Scheiner was a guest on Bull & Fox on 92.3 the Fan on Tuesday afternoon. He talked about a wide range of topics, including what his role is, the responsibility that Ray Farmer has on the football side of things, whose decision it was to transition tag Alex Mack, when the new uniforms will be unveiled for Cleveland, ticket prices remaining the same, and more. You can listen to the interview here, but I have transcribed most of it below.
(No raise in ticket prices?): "We are, we're keeping it flat for the sixth straight year. We think this is a really great deal for our fans."
(Why no raise, and how soon will that happen?): "I'll give Jimmy a lot of credit here. After the season, we had a lot of changes, and we huddled up as a group and looked at it. We understood that with the renovation and where everyone else in the league was, we could raise the prices, but we just thought that it would be better this year not to. It was kind of a message to our fans that we understand last year didn't go as planned."
(Were you shocked by the change in the front office?): "Because I'm in the building, I can't say that I'm totally surprised. Jimmy made a decision that is consistent with how other NFL teams are run. If you look at the successful NFL teams right now, they have a very similar structure to the one that we have. We have a lot of depth here. We were lucky enough that Ray Farmer turned down Miami. We were lucky enough to have a guy like Sashi Brown, who had handled player contracts before. We have me, and I've been here doing this job [team president] for awhile. I think we were fortunate that Jimmy could make a tough decision and still have the organization move forward."
(How much more of a role will he have now?): "My role is to run the business side of the organization. I report directly to Jimmy. I like to think that at times, just in terms of structure and the parameters of what we do that I'd be able to add some value, but I don't think we're any different than some of these really successful organizations that have people in business roles who can sit in a room and might add value at some point, but then defer to guys like Ray [Farmer] and Mike [Pettine] to make the football decisions."
(Are you involved in player contracts?): "No -- Sashi Brown is our General Counsel and he reports to me. He does player contracts as well as the legal stuff on the business side. All of this flows to Ray and Mike. Ray is the guy who decides what players we keep and what players we pick up, and Mike has a big voice in that too."
(How much does Sashi and you come into the conversation of using the transition tag on Mack?): "That's an organizational discussion. Jimmy can be part of those discussions. Ultimately, that's Ray Farmer's job. Ray's an expert -- he's been doing this so long, he's such a smart guy, and all of us just follow his lead."
(Everyone hates the Bucs uniforms. Could the Browns ever go down that road of cutting-edge uniforms?): "We'll have cutting-edge uniforms that link back to our history. I don't want to speak about the Bucs' uniforms, but I'm really excited about our direction. We've been working with the NFL and Nike for almost a year now, and we have another year until we roll out our uniforms. I'd be very surprised if our fans don't love our new-look uniforms. I think we're headed down a really cool path."
(Next year at this time, will we have those unveiled?): "I don't know exactly when it will be done, but it will be some time next year before the draft."
(Thoughts on 18-games, expanded playoffs, etc.): "I think those are the types of things you have to work through with the players. Players should have a say into how this business looks. The players share a percentage of revenues in the NFL. Clearly, if we do some of those things, it will benefit the players, but I don't think those are the kinds of things you can do without talking to them and making sure it's for the overall benefit of the game and not just a short-term fix."
(When there's a player in distress, what can the teams do to help a guy like that?): "Teams are very proactive with any number of issues that come to our attention, and really on the front end. Almost every team that I've been part of has team psychiatrists and team psychologists. Really, any kind of resource that a player would need, teams have."
(Do you anticipate Jimmy being more involved in the day-to-day operations?): "I don't think so. I think Jimmy's been really clear with what kind of owner he's going to be. He's going to ask the right questions, he's going to hold us accountable, and he's going to put people in jobs where they can do those jobs. I look at him as somewhere between, if you look at the spectrum of NFL owners, from Jerry [Jones], who is GM and President, to Paul Allen, who really lets his guys do the entire job, I think Jimmy's right in between -- someone like Robert Kraft or Bob McNair, where he's asking the right questions and he's holding us accountable, but he doesn't go beyond that."
(Ultimately, Ray Farmer will decide who this team will draft?): "Yeah, that's Ray's job."
(Jimmy won't be involved in that decision-making process?): "I think any owner wants to have these conversations before decisions are made, but Ray has been empowered to be our general manager and he has that authority."
(Are there any things that Joe Banner are still involved in as he transitions out of the building?): "He's transitioned and he's looking forward to what he does next. In the building, we're working with our group now."
(So he's out of the building, he's not there?): "Yeah, that's right."
(What about the report that the assistant coaches would have to report to Joe and not Mike?): "No, I don't know about that. Some of the reports that have come out the last month or so, I really have no idea where they come from. All I can say is we really had a very normal structure when it came to our coach and who reported to our coach. I don't think there was anything to that."
(Is there anything more you can add to the Jim Harbaugh stuff?): "When owners speak on these things, I think I'll defer to them. I think Jimmy spoke on it and Jed did, and I think they kind of said as much as they'll say on the topic."
(Was there any talks about Michael Lombardi having the Browns stuff at the Combine?): "No...the thing is, I will say this. We have a lot of pieces of paper in the building that have a front with our Browns logo, and then is blank on the back. If that wasn't the case here, we'll take care of it and do it internally and handle it that way, but it might have been the case that there was nothing on the interior of that piece of paper."
(Are the Browns concerned about it at all?): "If it's information that's leaving our building, then we're concerned and we'll address it. That holds true for anyone who leaves the building and we're always cognizant of that. You've got to be vigilant about it, but after a few weeks, most of that information is pretty dated anyway."
(What are you allowed to take when you are relieved of your duties and go to an organization?): "I haven't been relieved of my duties yet (laughs). You don't take anything that is proprietary to the organization, and that holds true for almost any business."
(Latest with the stadium renovation and sin tax.): "On the stadium renovation, we're in good shape. Even though we've had some difficult weather, we're right on target. This year, it'll be the video boards, the audio system, and the escalators. Our group is doing a great job getting this in before the preseason. On the sin tax, this is a bigger issue than just us, and we've got a lot of support in the community and support from the city. Ultimately, it's about the city being able to honors its obligation and hopefully we're headed in a good area. It's a lot more than about the Cleveland Browns, it's about our whole community."
(Any chance the Browns can help us recruit LeBron back?): "At tight end? (laughs)"
(Can you speak more about the ticket prices and the fans in general?): "We've had a great offseason. After the season is over, we just start selling deposits for the next season. We're at almost 100% more deposits this offseason than last year, and that's coming off a season where we broke every season ticket sales record since 1999. I feel really good about our business, and I think our fans are really excited about our direction. Certainly in the last few weeks, we've really sensed the excitement, and it's a good story for us. We've got to fill that stadium -- we've got great fans, and we want them to impact our games. That's going to be a big mantra of mine over the next six months. I want our fans to help us win a few more games like they do in Seattle."