After Sunday’s practice, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy and Dee Haslam talked to the media via Zoom. They really miss the fans at practice, but they’ve done everything they can to make sure their players are safe, per NFL-NFLPA guidelines. Jimmy called it “eerily quiet” at training camp — which I understand to an extent, but it’s actually no different than how it would sound during practices for the regular season.
Here are some topics they touched on:
Possibility of Fans Attending Games in 2020
No decision has been made about the Browns’ home games this season with respect to allowing fans. The team wants it, but know they have to respect and be fluid with what the governor says. Jimmy didn’t want to give false expectations as to whether fans would be permitted at games to begin the year:
Jimmy Haslam: “There’s been a task force [regarding sports] that’s been working closely with the governor’s office for the last 8-10 weeks. We’ve also been working closely with the city of Cleveland. I think both of those have gone well. We have put a lot of time, effort, and resources in to ensuring that if we did have ‘20% of fans’ it could be a safe experience. We feel good about that opportunity. Obviously, the final decision is up to the governor, but we’re ready and excited to go and I think the city of Cleveland feels the same way.”
Supporting Players Who Kneel for the Anthem
Jimmy Haslam on players, including Baker Mayfield, who plan to kneel during national anthem: We're going to support our players, at the same time, too much attention is called to whether someone kneels or stands and not to what they do after, look at what our guys do to make diff— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) August 16, 2020
Wearing Masks and Dealing with the Pandemic
The Haslams expressed that they had two employees from Pilot Flying J die from COVID-19, and empathize with anyone who has experienced it. They stressed the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to help keep everyone safe.
Even though they weren’t wearing masks during the conference call, it was only because they were at home. During practice, they wear masks on the field, and when Jimmy goes to the grocery store once a week, he’s wearing his mask.
Jimmy says that no one knows it the league will be able to complete the season, but everyone is doing everything possible to try to do it safely.
#Browns owner Dee Haslam said COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, it's taken a lot of energy to maneuver through this, she encourages everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) August 16, 2020
- Dee said that when she talked to Odell Beckham, he expressed how much more comfortable he is in Cleveland this year, and how great it feels to be healthy. The Haslams say that the team in general didn’t do a good job managing expectations in 2019 (i.e. the hype), so this year, they are trying to manage expectations much better.
- The Haslams talked about how Downtown Cleveland “is in need of some serious help following the pandemic and protests,” and they will help however they can as part of the Browns.
- While the construction of Columbus’ new soccer stadium is on track, changes to the Browns’ stadium have been pushed to the backburner, given the pandemic.
#Browns owners Jimmy & Dee Haslam say the construction of the stadium for the Columbus Crew is on schedule. As for stadium in Cleveland, their focus is short term on hoping they can host fans this year; future stadium convos on the backburner for now.— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) August 16, 2020
- They acknowledged that DE Myles Garrett did something unbelievably out of character last year with the helmet incident, but they know him, his family, his values, and are happy to have his future in Cleveland for a long time.
- You can watch the whole conference here: