Browns notes: FirstEnergy purchases stadium naming rights; Cribbs in Pro Bowl
Monday, January 14, 2013 7:31 PM
FirstEnergy Field could be the new name of the place the Browns call home.
FirstEnergy Corp. has purchased naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium, a source with knowledge of the transaction confirmed Monday evening. Details were not available.
The Browns are not confirming the report.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Aug. 3 said he would sell naming rights to the building that has been Cleveland Browns Stadium since it opened in 1999. The first owner of the new era, Al Lerner, paid $530 million for the team as an expansion franchise in 1998. Taxpayers paid for the construction of the stadium. Lerner believed there was no need to sell naming rights at the time.
Fourteen years later, Haslam agreed to pay $1 billion for the team. He paid former owner Randy Lerner $700 million in mid-October and will hand over another $300 million in three years.
Haslam made it clear from the start he would change the name of the stadium by selling naming rights. He said there might also be changes to the uniform, but he plans to leave the logo-less helmet alone.
Cribbs headed to Hawaii
One way or another, Browns special teams star Joshua Cribbs will be in the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27 in Hawaii.
Cribbs was elected as a first alternate as a return specialist and as a special teams player last month. Ahead of him are kick returner Jacoby Jones of the Ravens and special teamer Matthew Slater of the Patriots.
The Ravens and Patriots meet for the AFC Championship on Sunday. Players from the winning team are scratched from the Pro Bowl rosters because the Super Bowl will be played one week after the Pro Bowl, so Cribbs is guaranteed a spot.
Browns middle linebacker DâQwell Jackson is also a first alternate. He will join Cribbs, left tackle Joe Thomas and kicker Phil Dawson on the AFC Pro Bowl roster if the Patriots beat the Ravens because New Englandâs Jerod Mayo is the starting inside linebacker on the AFC team.
G.M. candidate interviewed
Ray Farmer, the Chiefs director of pro personnel since 2006, interviewed to head the Browns personnel department on Monday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS.
Browns CEO Joe Banner hasnât determined the title of the person he will choose to replace fired general manager Tom Heckert. Heckert had total authority to run the draft, make trades and dictate the final roster. Under Bannerâs plan, head coach Rob Chudzinski will select the final roster and be what Banner says is âthe driving forceâ to acquire players.
Hiring a talent evaluator with such limited power might not be easy.
Farmer was a scout for the Falcons from 2002-2005 before moving on to Kansas City.
The Browns have also asked permission to interview 49ersâ director of pro personnel Tom Gamble. Also, NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi continues to be a candidate to work in the front office in some capacity.
Offensive line coach George Warhop is now with his third Browns head coach and still on the job.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN on Monday reported Warhop will be back with the Browns for a fifth season, this time under new head coach Rob Chudzinski. Last week Warhop was mentioned as a candidate to coach the offensive line under Andy Reid in Kansas City.
Chudzinski met with the Browns assistant coaches on Friday afternoon following his introductory news conference. The Browns have not announced which coaches Chudzinski decided to retain.
Warhop has been coaching offensive lines in the NFL since 1996. He coached at St. Louis, Arizona, Dallas and San Francisco before Eric Mangini hired him to coach the Browns offensive line in 2009. Warhop held the job through two years under Mangini and two under Pat Shurmur.
Board isnât staying
Dwaine Board, the defensive line coach, is unlikely to be retained. He was hired in 2011 during Shurmurâs first year as head coach.
USA Today reported the Browns asked the Jaguars permission to interview defensive line coach Joe Cullen. Cullen, 45, has been with the Jaguars since 2010. He also coached with the Lions from 2006-08.
No announcement has been made on the fate of defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, but according to reports the Browns are interested in Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Shurmur gets interview
Shurmur, fired by Banner and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III on Dec. 31, interviewed for the offensive coordinator job with the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Chudzinski, who replaced Shurmur, was the Panthersâ offensive coordinator the two years Shurmur was Browns head coach. The Browns were 9-23 under Shurmur.