By Tom Withers | Associated Press
BEREA -- On several walls inside the Browns' remodeled headquarters are inspirational quotations, words meant to motivate Cleveland's players, coaches, front office members and other employees.
There's a variety of messages from a famous wide-ranging group that includes US. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, basketball coaching legend John Wooden, golfer Gary Player -- even Mother Teresa.
CEO Joe Banner's favorite is from fictional chocolatier Willy Wonka, who said "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man."
"Everything one thinks I'm so serious," Banner said in explaining his choice. "It's sports. We're supposed to have fun."
Hoping to build a culture where excitement, excellence and entertainment collide, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam spent $5 million this year to renovate Cleveland's main offices and training facility. More than one-third of the 90,000-square-foot building has been overhauled, allowing the Browns to house 68 employees who previously worked at FirstEnergy Stadium in downtown Cleveland.
Now, the entire Browns franchise is under one roof, creating a sense of team and unity that hasn't existed in years.
"So much of this is about everybody being together," said Banner, hired by Haslam last year to create the Browns' vision. "We wanted everyone to feel like they are part of this."
The office spaces are open, allowing for easy movement and the exchange of ideas. There are common areas where members of the sales staff taking a break might bump into coaches or walk over to the large, floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the indoor field and watch practice.
Everything is bright and most of the interior decor is trimmed in white and orange.
There are reminders of the Browns' glorious past interspersed throughout the building as large photographs of former players and championship teams are displayed like art work.
On the wall facing the players' entrance are the iconic images of Hall of Famers Otto Graham and Jim Brown.
"Everything we've done has been with a consciousness of the history and culture we want to create," Banner said.
More than just creating a winning environment for players, Banner said one of the primary objectives of the face lift was to build a work space to bring in top-notch talent in all fields.
"Our big over-riding goal was to create a place that we could really attract the best people in sports to want to come and work here," said Banner, who spent 19 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to Cleveland. "Jimmy wanted this to be a first-class place. I think this speaks a lot to his commitment. "
Banner said the feedback from employees and players has been "unbelievable."
"It has really exceeded our expectations in how positive it has been received," said Banner, who believes the makeover is a first step toward winning. "We want to add great people to the Browns, I don't care if it's a free agent or coach. As we bring people in here, it's a totally different feeling than they would have gotten last November. I think it's important to be thought of as an organization that has an owner who is willing to put the money up.
"We ask our players to go out and risk their health every Sunday, they need to know the people they're working with also have their skin in the game and they're doing everything they can to be the best they can possibly be. That's an important message."