Jimmy Haslam Comments on Controversy Surrounding Pilot Flying J

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2013

Jan 11, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III during a press conference at the team's training facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam are shrouded in controversy due to an FBI investigation into Haslam's Pilot Flying J trucking company, and the embattled owner spoke out regarding the accusations.

According to the Associated Press, Haslam and Pilot Flying J are being investigated for allegedly defrauding customers. Haslam reportedly suspended several members of his Pilot Flying J sales team in the wake of an affidavit that included conversations between those salespeople regarding the potential scamming of customers.

I, more than anybody, understand the damage that’s been done to our reputation, our brand and our relationships in the trucking community, Haslam said.

While Haslam appears to be remorseful for his company's alleged actions, he has yet to comment on his status as the Browns' owner. It is unclear what steps the NFL will take, if any, when it comes to disciplining Haslam.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the league does not plan to take action against Haslam while the investigation is ongoing. If Haslam is ultimately charged, however, it's certainly possible that the NFL could ask him to relinquish power.

It doesn't appear as though Haslam plans to step down as owner, and he has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of stepping down as Pilot Flying J chief executive officer.

Why would I step down? I haven't done anything wrong, Haslam said Friday while speaking at his company's headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. It still appears to us that this investigation is focused on a very narrow band of a very large company -- questions about how rebates were handled to a very small percentage of our trucking company customers.

While Haslam sounds confident that he'll be absolved of any wrongdoing personally, there is still a lot of information that needs to come out before this situation is satisfactorily explored.


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