CLEVELAND - There was a big crowd in the middle of the Browns' locker room after their 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, and it wasn't because there was a tub full of Gatorade bottles.
Owner James Haslam III was holding court to the media after registering his first win over the Steelers since assuming ownership in October. The victory was made all the better because Haslam had a minority financial share in the Steelers prior to purchasing 75 percent of the Browns.
"It was great to see our crowd - it was a tremendous crowd, not just in numbers but in noise - standing and cheering at the end," Haslam said. "I've said all along that we have the best fans in the league."
Haslam has been on the other side of Pittsburgh trips to Cleveland. Most of those trips ended with the Browns losing and a large contingent of Steelers' fans waving "Terrible Towels."
"It was good to see their fans leaving and our fans staying and cheering," Haslam said. "A great win for our team and for our fans."
The Browns had some egg on their face last week after announcing a promotion with "Ticketmaster" in which fans would be given white flags with an orange Browns helmet on them. It didn't take long for media representatives and fans to realize that a white flag is the sign of surrender in war, which wasn't a good message to send with the Steelers in town.
On Saturday the Browns sent out the following email to announce their decision to cancel the promotion:
"After further and careful consideration, we felt it was in the best interests of everyone involved that we not have a giveaway item at tomorrow's game. It is something that was intended to be fun for our fans and that they could rally around, and we regret that some didn't perceive it that way. We want to thank all of our fans for their tremendous support, and we look forward to seeing them out in force at the stadium."
Haslam didn't have much to say when asked about the embarrassing situation.
"I was not involved in that decision," Haslam said. "To me it was much to do about nothing. The important thing is we won a very important game against one of our big-time rivals.
"Granted, they're playing with their third-team quarterback, but it's still a very good, well-coached football team that we beat."