Browns' growth continues with Scheiner hire

December 18, 2012

Jimmy Haslam's organization is starting to take shape.

On Tuesday the Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of Alec Scheiner as president, while vice president Bryan Wiedmeier, who is battling brain cancer, will shift to a new role working with CEO Joe Banner on long-term strategic planning.

Scheiner, who takes over Jan. 7, and Banner will do much of the work guiding the organization. Scheiner comes from the Cowboys, where he worked for eight years, the last five as senior VP and general counsel. He will oversee all aspects of the Browns' day-to-day business operations, including in-game enhancements and local TV and radio.

The most significant thing Scheiner had to say on a conference call was that he wants a stadium experience that will be unique to Cleveland. It won't be imported from Dallas, where the show aside from the game is almost bigger (and more comical) than the game itself.

He said he wants something unique, mentioning Green Bay and Dallas as places the fan immediately recognizes that game day is unique to the city. Scheiner said he wants Cleveland's experience to fit with the culture of the area and the organization, and he wants to create an experience that links the team to its past and to the community.

"So fans know exactly where they are and they enjoy it," Scheiner said.

That feeling was echoed by Banner.

"The experience here will be nothing like the experience in Dallas," Banner said. "The only similarity is to create an energized experienced where people feel they are appreciated."

Which is good, because the "everything is bigger in Texas" motif might not work in Cleveland. Then again, with the way the Browns have played since 1999, any experience ought to help.

Banner was peppered with questions about the future of coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert. Banner basically said any announcement and decision would come shortly after the season.

Asked specifically if he was comfortable with Heckert having final say over the roster and personnel, Banner said, "I think you're getting ahead of where we're at. When we make the decisions and announce them, we can deal with specifics like that."

Which certainly doesn't sound as if he's made the decision to keep Heckert, though Banner was careful to say nothing had been decided.

Asked who would have final say over personnel in his structure, Banner said, "We'll see when we get the team together what the best way to do that will be."

He then went into the usual stuff about hiring good, smart people, and basically no commented a question about Mike Lombardi, whose name keeps surfacing as a possible GM. Banner said the team will decide on present personnel soon after the season, and "that will lead to whatever the next steps are at that point."

Banner's priorities: The hiring of top executives like Scheiner and making decisions on the football side.

"Putting people in places we want," Banner said.

And doing that so it leads to a "sustained period of continuity."

Scheiner will report to Banner, which sounds interesting as it relates to a team president reporting to the CEO. But that's the structure.

Banner said he's aware there's a lot of talk locally about the Browns adding cheerleaders, but said they're "not anything we've spent any time discussing at all."

He also said that updating the Browns uniforms is "far from the top of the priority list."