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Browns sale approved, Holmgren to leave

CHICAGO – The sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam III was unanimously approved by NFL owners Tuesday, and team President Mike Holmgren will be leaving the Browns at the end of the season.

A person familiar with the sale told the Associated Press that Joe Banner has been hired as CEO of the Browns to replace Holmgren. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Banner’s hiring and Holmgren’s departure have not been announced.

Haslam bought the team from Randy Lerner for $1 billion. Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but divested that stock to buy the Browns.

Haslam and Lerner agreed to the sale in August just as training camp was opening. Haslam has said his mission is to bring winning football back to Cleveland; the Browns have made the playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999.

Holmgren was hired by Lerner in 2010. The Super Bowl-winning coach with Green Bay, and former coach and general manager in Seattle, has not been able to get the Browns into contention in the AFC North. Cleveland was the last team to win a game this season, improving to 1-5 with last Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati.

The fate of coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, both Holmgren hires, is uncertain.

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