Haslam owning the Browns-Steelers rivalry

By Don Delco
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard all the excuses by fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
· Ben Roethlisberger was hurt.
· Byron Leftwich was hurt.
· Troy Polamolu was hurt.
· Antonio Brown was hurt.
· Mike Adams is a starting offensive tackle.
· The Steelers typically play down to their competition.
· You’re not going to win when your running backs keep fumbling.
By now, I’m sure you can think of all the things to nit pick about how the Browns played.
· Unable to put the game away early.
· Unable to put the game away late.
· Too many holding penalties.
· Inconsistent play from the quarterback.
· Predictable play calling.
By now, and until the next time the Browns play the Steelers on Dec. 30, the only thing that matters is that on Sunday, the Browns scored more points than the Steelers.
A win.
“I talked to all of our rookies and I said to the rookies, ‘You are all 1-0 against Pittsburgh.’ When you play a rivalry game, you’re trying to get some traction and they’re 1-0.”
Among the rookies who are undefeated against the Steelers, it includes the Browns’ rookie owner, Jimmy Haslam.
A winning culture and attitude are among the first things Halsam needs to change. You can’t help think in the days leading up to Sunday’s game, he played a role in a few areas.
Before the Browns played the Cowboys in Dallas on Nov. 18, Mike Holmgren and Jerry Jones shared an on-field conversation. Perhaps it was a simple conversation between two good friends, but it came on the heels of rumors that Holmgren would take over for Jason Garrett next season.
Holmgren has indicated he’s still interested in coaching, but also said there isn’t anything to the Big Show-to-Big D rumors.
A week later, the Browns announced Holmgren is leaving the organization immediately and Sunday’s game was his last with the team.
Perhaps that pregame meeting didn’t sit well with the Browns owner? Nowadays, the Browns are represented by one man only. The buck stops with Haslam.
That brings us to the promotions department. On Wednesday, it was announced the Browns would hand out inflatable flags to waive against the Steelers on Sunday.
Those flags would be white.
Not good. The story made the national rounds and the Browns found themselves at the butt of the joke.
On Saturday, the Browns recanted on the promotion. Again, if you read between the lines, you can see perhaps there were larger forces at work and those forces spoke with a Tennessee twang.
For the first time since Art Modell owned the Cleveland Browns, everyone working for this franchise is finding out they need to hold themsevls to a higher standard or they have to answer to Haslam.
It is kind of like how the Steelers view their franchise. Not a bad model to follow.
Even better, with the Browns’ new attitude and leadership netted a victory over the Steelers.
“I would imagine (Haslam) is very happy,” Browns tight end Ben Watson said.
“To be able to come in and win against that (Pittsburgh) organization his first time around has to be very gratifying for him. He came in the locker room and congratulated everybody. He didn’t address the team, but we’ll see him around.”
Yes, the Browns players, coaches and front office personnel will see Haslam around. He’s the boss and everyone knows it.
It was only the Browns fifth over Pittsburgh since 1999, but quite possibly a victory that is the beginning of the end and the start of something special for this franchise.