In the luxury-suite equivalent of a player leaving one team and signing with a division rival, Jimmy Haslam is in the process of flip-flopping from the Steelers to the Browns.
Haslam became a minority owner of the Steelers in 2008, as part of a protracted, gambling-driven Rooney family restructuring that left Dan and Art II owning 30 percent of the franchise and others owning the rest.
In December 2008, Haslam, the Paul family, and film executive Thomas Tull (who was responsible for The Dark Knight Rises being partially filmed in Pittsburgh and at Heinz Field) were approved to purchase part of the 50 percent that was sold as part of the buyout of various Rooney siblings.
Several months later, others joined the ownership group, including John Stallworth.
The Steelers have not yet addressed whether and to what extent Haslam is in the process of selling his minority interest in the Steelers. If he buys the Browns, he’ll undoubtedly have to give up his interest in the Steelers.
In a 2010 investor profile on the Steelers website, Haslam says he was originally a Cowboys fan and later a Colts fan. But business developments caused him to have a change of heart.
“I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan!” Haslam declared.
That’s exactly what Browns fans are going to want to hear.
UPDATE 10:31 a.m. ET: Per a league source, the Steelers privately are acknowledging that Haslam is in negotiations with the Browns. Haslam remains for now a minority owner of the Steelers.
Coincidentally, 25 percent of the Browns’ 2012 schedule will be played against Haslam’s current and former favorite teams.