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Browns sale to Haslam approved; Holmgren to leave

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Browns sale to Haslam approved; Holmgren to leave

CHICAGO (AP) New owners want their own people running things.

Jimmy Haslam III is sticking to one of the oldest adages in sports, which means Mike Holmgren is out as president of the Cleveland Browns.

Haslam's $1 billion purchase of the franchise was unanimously approved by the 32 NFL teams Tuesday. Shortly after the vote, Haslam announced that Holmgren would be leaving, although the Super Bowl-winning coach will remain with the franchise until the end of the year to help in the transition. Former Eagles President Joe Banner will become the chief executive officer on Oct. 25 when the sale is concluded.

``Mike was brought in to be the president and I think in a lot of ways the de facto owner,'' Haslam said at the NFL's fall meeting, ``and with us coming in and taking a more active role, Mike has decided to, effective at the end of the year, leave the Cleveland Browns ...

``Mike will work very closely with us over the next three or four months to ensure that this transition goes as well as possible.''

Haslam plans no other personnel changes before 2013, meaning the jobs of coach Pat Shurmur and his staff and general manager Tom Heckert appear safe for now.

``I told Pat on Saturday night that this was the only personnel move until the end of the season,'' Haslam said. ``But I am not at all saying we'll make changes at the end of the season.''

The Browns were the last team to win a game this year, beating Cincinnati on Sunday after five losses. They are tied with Kansas City for the worst record in the league.

``At the end of the year we'll evaluate everybody in the organization just like we will at the end of every year, whether we win the Super Bowl or we win two games,'' Haslam said. ``That's our philosophy and that's what we'll do.''

Later Tuesday, the NFL confirmed that Minnesota will host Pittsburgh in a second London game next year. The Vikings and Steelers will play at Wembley Stadium on Sept. 29, 2013, four weeks before Jacksonville hosts San Francisco at Wembley.

``This is a unique opportunity,'' Vikings President Mark Wilf said. ``It will give excellent and exceptional exposure for the team.''

The league also announced that Houston, San Francisco and South Florida will bid for the 2016 and `17 Super Bowls.

The 57-year-old Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is in the process of divesting that stock.

The Browns have gone 10-28 since Holmgren was hired by Randy Lerner to run football operations in 2010.

``He has been and still is committed to doing everything he can to make the Cleveland Browns a winning football team,'' Haslam said of Holmgren, with whom he spoke at length in the 2 1/2 months since he agreed to purchase the Browns. They met Sunday to work out the logistics of the transition.

``Mike was brought in to do a certain role and I don't think he wanted a different role,'' Haslam said.

Holmgren led the Green Bay Packers to the 1996 NFL championship and lost in the Super Bowl the next year to Denver. He left the Packers in 1999 to become coach and general manager in Seattle. Six years later, the Seahawks won the AFC title - Holmgren had given up much of his personnel duties by then to concentrate on coaching - and fell to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

His time in Cleveland hasn't been nearly as successful. Indeed, 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.

``I would never stand here and say we need to have X number of wins, but we want to see a positive direction,'' Haslam said. ``I think we want to see continued improvement and we want to see them play hard.''

Banner joined the Eagles in 1994 and was team president when he resigned in June.

``His track record in Philadelphia has been impressive,'' Haslam said. ``Joe is in charge of day-to-day operations of the company. Any big decisions, we will be involved in. Football (operations) will report to Joe.''

The late Al Lerner, Randy's father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.

The Browns made the playoffs in 2002 and lost to Pittsburgh in the first round. They've had only two winning records in 13 seasons.

Also at the meetings:

- Owners amended an anti-tampering resolution. Three days before a player becomes a free agent, teams will be permitted to contact the player's agent and begin contract negotiations. But a contract can't be completed until after free agency begins, and no direct contact is allowed with the player before his contract expires - except by his current team.

- South Florida and San Francisco - actually Santa Clara, where the 49ers are building a new stadium - will compete to host the 50th Super Bowl in 2016. The loser of that bid will compete with Houston for the 2017 game.

Some owners have said SunLife Stadium in Miami needs major upgrades before it should be considered for another Super Bowl; Miami has hosted the most NFL title games, 10.

``We understand the Dolphins and South Florida are looking at renovations and they do feel that is a large part of their bid,'' Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Houston has hosted two Super Bowls, the last in 2004. There was one Super Bowl in the San Francisco Bay Area, at Palo Alto, Calif., in 1985.

``Nothing brings a region together like a Super Bowl,'' 49ers CEO Jed York said.

Asked if he would recuse himself from the appeals process, as the four players punished in the Saints bounty probe have asked, Goodell said he would respond to the letters requesting that ``after these meetings.''

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Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal missed out on an All-NBA selection, and therefore, qualification for a supermax contract. Voting tallies show he received the most votes among guards that missed the cut. 

That's small consolation for the only player to average 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists this year, but still not make the All-NBA team. 

Here's a look at just how close Beal came to Kemba Walker, the last guard to sneak in. 

Walker (51 points) beat out Beal (34 points) more narrowly than at any other position. Klay Thompson received 27 points. 

It's rare air to be ranked so closely with guards like Walker and three-time champion Thompson.

Still, that hardly makes up for the earning potential the Wizards star missed out on this summer.

Damian Lillard, who was drafted in the same year as Beal, made second team All-NBA and qualified for a $191 million supermax contract from the Trail Blazers. 

That's a big-money difference for a very close voting tally.

On the flip side, that could mean the Wizards can afford to hang onto Beal. They would have had a difficult time offering him a supermax contract given their current salary cap situation. 

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

NEW YORK -- Dealing with tomorrow has often become the only palatable way for the Nationals to forget yesterday.

They lose in eye-gouging fashion, roll in the next day to reset, and, at least in New York, find a topper. That formula has them on a train home from what could have been a series for re-emergence, but instead placed them in a worse place than they started. Washington is 19-31 following a sweep in Flushing. It would have to go 71-41 (a .634 winning percentage) to reach 90 wins. If it’s not already, the season is on the verge of being over.

A slog-filled drive from midtown to Queens delivered the tired team back to its baseball quarters Thursday morning. Sean Doolittle changed then pulled his red hood up, sitting at his locker 10 hours after he stated he was “disgusted” with himself for Wednesday’s crash. Such a devastating night has been common for the 2019 Nationals. It was not for Doolittle. He hit a batter for the first time since May 29, 2018. He allowed four earned runs in an outing for the fifth time in 348 career appearances (1.4 percent of the time he pitches). In keeping with the season, the worst-possible outcome arrived at the worst-possible time, then another terrible one followed.

Martinez remained upbeat, sipping a morning drink concoction common in his native Puerto Rico. He rewatched Wednesday's game -- a masochist’s errand this season -- as he regularly does, went to sleep around 2 a.m., awoke at 7, arrived at Citi Field around 9:45. The leash on his future has been shortened greatly by the four failing days in New York.  

The Nationals wandered out for stretch and light throwing in front of an oddball scene. Thursday was “Weather Day” at Citi Field with the Big Apple-famous Mr. G hosting in his Mets jersey. Mr. G  -- known to his friends as Irv Gikofsy, New York City’s most popular weatherman -- kicked up a “Let’s go Mets!” chant down the third base line while the Nationals relievers ran routes and caught a foam football to get loose in the same part of the park. The recently re-emerged Mrs. Met, who popped back up in 2013 after decades of dormancy, used her giant noggin to nod along.

The game was another compilation of missed opportunities, bullpen disasters and bad luck. Washington left eight runners on base through the first six innings alone. The Mets’ path to runs was aided by slop and basics. Carlos Gomez single in the fifth. He ran to steal second, Yan Gomes’ throw went into center field, Gomez went on to third base. A sacrifice fly scored him.

J.D. Davis singled in the sixth. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch. Stephen Strasburg’s wild pitch moved them both over. Another sacrifice fly scored one, a Wilson Ramos infield single scored the other. The Mets led, 3-1.

The Nationals didn’t score with runners on first and third and one out in the first. They did not score after Juan Soto’s leadoff triple in the second inning. They did not score after a one-out double in the third. They did not score with runners on second and third and one out in the fourth. They did not score with a runner on second and one out in the fifth. This is not hyperbole for effect. It’s facts. Sigh-worthy ones.

The only effective offseason signings are Kurt Suzuki and Patrick Corbin. The others have not just resided below expectations, they have been among the worst in the league at their position.

Gomes, acquired in a trade, leads the league in passed balls. He’s committed three errors in his 29 starts. Coming into Thursday, he had a 65 OPS-plus (100 is average).

Brian Dozier started the afternoon with a 73 OPS-plus and -0.5 WAR. Those two numbers would be worse if not for a recent uptick both in the field and plate from him.

And, the most egregious failure of the offseason has been Trevor Rosenthal’s saga. Martinez was asked directly Wednesday if Rosenthal simply has the “yips”. He said they still believe Rosenthal’s problems are mechanics, not thoughts, despite him throwing baseballs to the backstop in central Pennsylvania. The luxury-tax averse Nationals are paying him $6 million to do so.

Finally, Thursday was enough for Martinez to shed his tranquility. After Howie Kendrick was ejected in the top of the eighth, Martinez ran to home plate to start an argument of his own. He half-circled home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, yelled, pointed and carried on in a manner that begged Dreckman to throw him out. He did. Martinez went from rankled to furious. He spiked his hat, kicked the dirt, and yelled some more. The event provided his third career ejection and looked to be among the final moves of a manager on the verge of returning to private life.

A strange thing followed: his team rallied for three runs to take a 4-3 lead. No matter. There’s no goodness Washington’s bullpen can’t undermine. Wander Suero gave up a three-run homer in the eighth to Gomez. New day, different reliever, same ear-bleeding outcome.

Which again made talking about tomorrow the only way to deal with the grotesqueness of today. Trouble now is tomorrow may not matter any more.

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