SBD/May 8, 2013/Franchises

Owner Jimmy Haslam Apologizes To Browns Fans For Pilot Flying J Scandal

Haslam says he didn't speak earlier for fear of distracting from the NFL Draft
Pilot Flying J CEO and Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III “apologized profusely Tuesday for the scandal that's overshadowed the team,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Haslam made his remarks “in a 10-minute media session just after giving the opening address at the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame's scholar-athlete banquet at LaCentre in Westlake.” He said that he “would've talked during last month's draft," but he did not "want to distract from the draft because the draft is all about football and the future Browns." Haslam yesterday also rejected the "notion of discord in the team's front office during the draft.” He said, "It was great to see it. And it wasn't all agreement. There was a lot of disagreement, a lot of conversation going back and forth. I'm very excited about the draft we had." In addition, Haslam reiterated that the Browns "will be improved, but perhaps not ready to contend in 2013.” He said, "We'll have a better football team this year. (But) we're going to do this the right way. It's not going to happen overnight. You don't go from winning 14 games in three years to winning 14 games in one year" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/8). In Canton, Todd Porter reports officials with the NFF offered to take Haslam "through a side door just before he was to appear on the stage and deliver the keynote speech.” But Haslam “wasn’t hiding.” Instead, he “walked through the front doors at LeCentre Banquet Facility, just like everyone else.” Porter writes Haslam “seems to be trying to take a hands-on approach to addressing his business problems” (Canton REPOSITORY, 5/8).

FRONT & CENTER
: In Akron, Nate Ulrich writes there likely is "no member of an NFL organization ... more important than its owner, and many Browns fans aren’t sure whether Haslam can practice what he’s preaching.” Haslam did not take questions from reporters yesterday, and he "sounded as if he’s not worried about his status as owner of the Browns.” Despite Haslam’s “uncertain future, he also vowed to keep a promise he first made last summer when he struck a deal to buy the Browns.” He said, “I pledge to you we’re going to do everything we possibly can to bring a winner to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio because this area deserves it” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/8). The AP's Tom Withers noted Haslam plans to “return to Cleveland later this week, when the team will hold a minicamp for rookies and undrafted free agents” (AP, 5/7).
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