SBD/May 20, 2013/Franchises

Haslam's Legal Woes Not Expected To Affect Ownership Of Browns

Despite the Flying J controversy, Haslam has the trust of other team owners
As Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam III faces legal issues with the company, there is "no real sense the sky is falling in Cleveland and that Haslam's legal troubles will seriously imperil his ownership and completely snuff out the optimism his presence brought to town, almost before it has a chance to truly take root," according to Don Banks of Sources said that when NFL team owners meet in Boston tomorrow, they "don't know whether" Haslam "plans on addressing the controversy in front of the entire group or in a series of individual meetings with his peers." Banks noted Haslam's legal issues have "everything to do with his ownership of the team, and thus his fellow owners will be eager to hear from him and where he perceives the case is headed." If there is a "temperature reading to be taken internally within the league regarding the status of Haslam and his ability to own and lead the Browns, it's a long way from the doomsday scenario that some early media reports portrayed, characterizing some team owners as 'absolutely terrified' and 'scared to death' at the potential damage the investigation could do to the Browns organization." Sources said that Haslam "has not yet been personally charged with any wrongdoing," and that he "remains a known quantity within the league who has both the trust of [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell and his fellow team owners." Haslam is "believed to have three or four family members with a stake in the team's ownership, and could deal with a suspension or a recusal by temporarily transferring the team to either one of his two grown daughters" (, 5/17). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote while there "likely won’t be an abundance of awkward moments" at the owners' meeting, it is "impossible to know how this will unfold until we know more about the evidence that the FBI and IRS were, or weren’t, able to develop" (, 5/18).
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