SBD/April 26, 2013/Franchises

Browns Owner Haslam Talks Shop Before Draft, Avoids Questions On Federal Probe

Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam III on Thursday night before the NFL Draft addressed a "group of sponsors gathered" at the Browns' indoor practice facility, and "expressed confidence" in what CEO Joe Banner, GM Michael Lombardi and coach Rob Chudzinski have done in the offseason, according to Jodie Valade of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Haslam, who did not take any questions from the media, said, "Had a good free agency, still have plenty of cap room, have a great draft, need to have another good free agency, have another great draft. If we do that, we'll be able to compete in our division. Let's face it, if you can compete in our division, you got a chance to win the Super Bowl, right?" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26). In Akron, Nate Ulrich notes Haslam "stuck to football" instead of discussing the federal probe of Pilot Flying J. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday said, "It’s a difficult time for Jimmy and his family and his company. He’ll be keeping us informed if there are any developments on it. In the meantime, I know that he’s serious about the Cleveland Browns and doing everything he can to restore that team. And he’s also very serious about his Pilot (Flying) J company. He wants to make sure that that’s successful and operated with integrity, and that’s something that I believe he will do" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/26).

CALL BLOCK: In Cleveland, John Caniglia reports attorneys for Georgia-based trucking company Atlantic Coast Carriers on Thursday asked a Knox County (Tenn.) judge to "stop Jimmy Haslam from calling and attempting to settle with customers" linked to Pilot Flying J's fuel rebate program. The lawyers "filed a request for a temporary restraining order." The document stated that Haslam "said it would take one to two months to determine the amounts owed to customers." But attorneys for Atlantic Coast Carriers said Pilot Flying J now seeks "to unilaterally determine what is owed to these (companies) and approach these same targeted companies after years of being short-changed in a brutal economy and a tough business in which to make a profit" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26). In Nashville, Walter Roche reports the restraining order states Haslam's recent contact with trucking execs "may constitute an improper attempt to coerce parties and witnesses under Tennessee law" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/26).
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