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Report: Haslam may be asked to step down during investigation

Jimmy Haslam AP

On Tuesday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam that it will be “business as usual” for his football team as Haslam deals with an FBI and IRS investigation of the family-owned billion-dollar business he runs.

Browns fans would agree completely.

A franchise that has spent a generation in turmoil now has more of it.  According to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, the ongoing investigation into alleged fraud committed during the application of customer discounts and rebates could result in Haslam temporarily relinquishing control of the team.

“This is worse than a dark cloud.  This is a funnel cloud,” a source with knowledge of the legal system and the inner workings of the NFL told Grossi.

Haslam was attending draft meetings on Thursday when the news broke of the 120-page affidavit that supported the issuance of a search warrant at the Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J.

“I maintain that the foundation of this company is built on its integrity and that any willful wrongdoing by any employee of this company at any time is intolerable,” Haslam said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The league hasn’t commented, but according to Grossi one possibility would be to appoint a family member who falls completely beyond the reach of the Pilot Flying J investigation to oversee the operations of the Browns during the investigation.

It really shouldn’t matter; Haslam has hired Joe Banner to run the team.  Banner has hired Mike Lombardi to run the front office.  And the Browns have hired Rob Chudzinski to be the coach.  The owner, whoever it is, simply needs to get out of the way.

For example, what meaningful input could Haslam possibly provide in draft meetings on Thursday?  “I once saw that guy play against UT.  He’s pretty fast.”

So it really won’t matter if Haslam doesn’t have his hands at controls he’s not qualified or skilled to operate.  Still, the mere existence of the investigation is a body blow to a franchise that has been crippled by poor performance and periodic controversy since the team was resurrected in 1999.

As a a result, plenty of fans likely are pining for the good old days, when the team was run by (as Grossi once accidentally put on Twitter) the world’s most irrelevant billionaire.

Sometimes, it’s good to be regarded as irrelevant.  Especially by the federal government.

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53 Responses to “Report: Haslam may be asked to step down during investigation”
  1. nigellino says: Apr 19, 2013 8:33 AM

    Jimmy better start talkin’ fast, real fast…

  2. daburgher says: Apr 19, 2013 8:36 AM

    As a Steelers fan, I gotta admit that I feel bad for Browns fans. A truly loyal fan base that has to put up with CRAP year in and year out.. Keep your heads up, your time is coming.. When it happens it will be a great feeling

  3. harrisonhits2 says: Apr 19, 2013 8:40 AM

    “I maintain that the foundation of this company is built on its fraudulent behavior and that any intentional wrongdoing by any employee of this company at any time was just following our usual patter of operations,” Haslam said in a statement issued on Thursday.”

    There, fixed his quote for you.

  4. tooz72 says: Apr 19, 2013 8:43 AM

    but he’s done such great things as owner..all those future SBs wont be won now

  5. djstat says: Apr 19, 2013 8:44 AM

    Magen will Cleveland blame the mayor who wouldn’t built Art Model a stadium. Or Tony Gtossi for keeping Art out of Canton. This is the curse of Model!!!!

  6. scoops1 says: Apr 19, 2013 8:46 AM

    “Don’t touch Jimmy…Hands off Jimmy”

  7. skoobyfl says: Apr 19, 2013 8:47 AM

    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  8. redeemerac says: Apr 19, 2013 8:51 AM

    As my next door neighbor who is die-hard Browns fan told me last night….”See I told you…God hates Cleveland”

  9. coonsqualler says: Apr 19, 2013 8:51 AM

    My guess is that the Rooney family and Steeler nation are pretty glad he sold his portion of the Steelers right about now.
    Oh well, same old same old for us Browns Fans. New GM’s and coaches every 2 years!!

    Just Sayin’…Go Brownies!!

  10. shackdelrio says: Apr 19, 2013 8:55 AM

    I don’t believe in sports curses but I am starting to come around on the Cleveland one. These fans just can’t catch a break. I feel bad for them.

  11. blingslade says: Apr 19, 2013 8:55 AM

    Just a freakin’ train wreck..always.

  12. cometkazie says: Apr 19, 2013 8:55 AM

    daburgher says:
    Apr 19, 2013 8:36 AM
    As a Steelers fan, I gotta admit that I feel bad for Browns fans. A truly loyal fan base that has to put up with CRAP year in and year out.. Keep your heads up, your time is coming.. When it happens it will be a great feeling.
    +-+-+

    Damn right!

  13. sewalters79 says: Apr 19, 2013 8:58 AM

    When it rains, it pours in Cleveland!
    Most passionate fans in the league don’t deserve this crap.

    Keep your heads up! There’s always the Draft!

  14. 49erstim says: Apr 19, 2013 8:58 AM

    This franchise just cannot catch a break. Now we all know why Cleveland is called the “Factory of Sadness”.

  15. timmons94 says: Apr 19, 2013 8:59 AM

    karma Jimmy…
    wow, you are such a man of integrity, withholding cash owed to trucking companies, maybe forcing them to go out of business or lay off honest hard working employees. You are a piece of garbage, just like little ravenator

  16. humbleminded85 says: Apr 19, 2013 9:03 AM

    daburgher says: Apr 19, 2013 8:36 AM

    As a Steelers fan, I gotta admit that I feel bad for Browns fans. A truly loyal fan base that has to put up with CRAP year in and year out.. Keep your heads up, your time is coming.. When it happens it will be a great feeling
    —————————————————
    Couldn’t agree more, Browns fans define the word loyal and true. I respect you all’s fandom immensely. This coming from a native of Baltimore.

  17. raiderufan says: Apr 19, 2013 9:11 AM

    Last time I checked multi-billion dollar corporations are a pretty big part of our economy….I realize that the FBI wouldn’t want to jeopadize the case but couldn’t they give some sort of heads up to the NFL before they made him an owner in this corporation? What on earth is a part of the vetting process for the NFL? I can’t believe HE wasn’t aware of this until 2 days ago?

    It is just so odd to me.

    Sorry Browns fan…this really stinks for you guys.

  18. godofwine330 says: Apr 19, 2013 9:17 AM

    Is this anything like when Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was told to give controlling interest of the 49’ers away with his situation in the 90’s? I wonder about this. With reports that Haslem not only knew about the smoking gun, but he praised the shooter (basically Haslem reportedly praised the guy who came up with this plan to save the company money) is troubling. I wonder what is going to happen, but it can’t be good. As people have said, when the Feds finally bring a case to you it is 98.9% trump tight.

  19. brownoholic says: Apr 19, 2013 9:17 AM

    I think a team with a with winning attitude in the locker room could handle this.

    My team is far from that as far as I can tell. Maybe the new guys can make it all work…

    Man, oh man. Cleveland…just WOW…

  20. jagsfan1 says: Apr 19, 2013 9:21 AM

    I guess daddy can’t get him out of this one?

  21. ajgreenhof says: Apr 19, 2013 9:30 AM

    Coming from a Bengals fan in Ohio I see Browns fans every now and then. They really just seem worn down. I’d like to see a day when Cincinnati and Cleveland were the top 2 in the AFC North.

  22. dawgpoundjedi says: Apr 19, 2013 9:33 AM

    To all the Steeler and Raven fans posting nice comments… thank you. This is so ridiculous with our team at this point… it’s cool to see you guys supporting us.

    I swear… this stuff has become old hat to us. It really has. I am a season ticket holder in the lower Dawg Pound, and when this thing was announced on Monday, I said to myself “Yup. This is going to be WAAAAYYYY bigger than it sounds like.” – and here we are.

    OIC (Only In Cleveland, for the uninitiated)

  23. logisticalvoices says: Apr 19, 2013 9:40 AM

    Haslam shouldn’t be involved in a franchise ” …he’s not qualified or skilled to operate.”
    Doesn’t seems to stop Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones.

  24. dirtydrew says: Apr 19, 2013 9:42 AM

    The Browns have been a failure from the top down. From Al Lerner and Tim Couch and Butch Davis to This soon to be jail bird. Cleveland can’t catch a break. Poor fans.

  25. officialgame says: Apr 19, 2013 9:47 AM

    If is is any solace to Cleveland fans this shouldn’t have much impact on the team. Joe Banner ran a pretty successful organization in Philly for a number of years and he is a good numbers /CAP guy.

  26. blantoncollier says: Apr 19, 2013 9:50 AM

    Grossi’s source is clearly Fred Nance, a one time candidate for NFL Commissioner and former Chief Legal Advisor for the Lerner led Browns. He still has a title with the Browns today.

    This thing is just a mess, Federal cases can take years, if the funnel cloud keeps sucking wind over the Browns, then it will set the team back another generation.

    The NFL thought they had “fixed” the Browns by matching Jimmy with the Lerner’s, seems like they better fix this siutation again and quickly.

  27. spunjmunke says: Apr 19, 2013 10:10 AM

    djstat says:
    “Magen will Cleveland blame the mayor who wouldn’t built Art Model a stadium. Or Tony Gtossi for keeping Art out of Canton. This is the curse of Model!!!!”

    One more person confused about history. Keep drinking the Art flavored Kool-ade

  28. leonbryte says: Apr 19, 2013 10:10 AM

    Poor Cleveland…the “shyte stain on the underpants of the NFL/society/world”. I got a crisp $1 bill says somebody get’s MRSA during OTA’s. God bless ya, steamers.

  29. phinfan says: Apr 19, 2013 10:13 AM

    You think Pilot is the only company that rips off customers? I’ve seen shady stuff go on in the inner workings of a large clothing store chain that fooled customers into thinking there were sales when there wasn’t just remarkings of signs. Its going on everywhere and every black friday there is criminal acts by all chains.

  30. joemammy says: Apr 19, 2013 10:17 AM

    If the federal government ends up with the team, they should gift it to the people of the City of Cleveland. We’re the ones who pay the damned bills anyway…

  31. citiciti says: Apr 19, 2013 10:26 AM

    NFL did a hell of a job doing it’s back round work.

  32. jam11163 says: Apr 19, 2013 10:28 AM

    suspend the thief… just say no. you have a billion $ industry. i feel bad for the long time browns fans.

  33. root4cleveland says: Apr 19, 2013 10:29 AM

    I guess we can assume a rain check on the announcement to establish a rebate program for season ticket holders, then? Seems to the a modus operande…per diem…er…GO BROWNS!

  34. chargerdillon says: Apr 19, 2013 10:30 AM

    Take a step down?! TAKE A STEP DOWN?!

    WHAT DO YOU THINK HE WAS DOING BY PURCHASING THE BROWNS!!!!

    bazinga

  35. spewtilation says: Apr 19, 2013 10:32 AM

    What goes around comes around. Karma is one hell of an occurrence in our world. Haslam, without giving Shurmur and his staff a real shot at building a winning team, fired them without mercy. And now, karma has reared it’s head sooner rather than later. I love it.

  36. NoobTubeTV says: Apr 19, 2013 10:33 AM

    Makes me think of the New York Mets.

  37. jamaltimore says: Apr 19, 2013 10:35 AM

    I think it’s time Browns fan realize Cleveland is cursed. The good news is there is a lot of room on the Baltimore Browns Bandwagon and I suggest you put down your grudges with Modell (RIP) and come on over to cheer for a winner.

    Black and Purple looks much better than brown anyways!

  38. vincentbojackson says: Apr 19, 2013 10:40 AM

    Haslem would have gotten away with this scam if he just didn’t get caught up in the Brown’s curse.

  39. tigerboye says: Apr 19, 2013 11:07 AM

    I feel bad for the Browns fans, you guys truly have suffered, and I know casue I’m a Washington Wizards fan and we truly have no hope

  40. mogogo1 says: Apr 19, 2013 11:37 AM

    “A family member who falls completely beyond the reach of the Pilot Flying J investigation…” Isn’t that pretty darn difficult, given the whole “family member” part?

    I think he should be forced to sell the team. But until that happens, he’s the owner. Having a figurehead family member pretend to run the team would be absurd.

  41. dumbpollack says: Apr 19, 2013 11:49 AM

    Pilot J is done (fair or unfair). With his cash cow gone for good I don’t think Jimmy can make this thing work. He should do everyone a favor and get out now.

  42. dumbpollack says: Apr 19, 2013 11:51 AM

    Get Jamalitmore, that’s like asking us to just start digging guys. Don’t work that way. Suck it!!

  43. pacodawg says: Apr 19, 2013 11:55 AM

    I broke the schedule down. 11-5 lock!

  44. ravenmuscle says: Apr 19, 2013 11:56 AM

    All Cleveland had to do was build Modell a stadium.

    The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame went up QUICK…the Indians got a new stadium QUICK…the Cavs got a new arena QUICK.

    No running water in Municipal Stadium….concrete falling off the facades…bringing in Hundreds of Port-aPotties for games due to none functional restrooms

    That’s where Mayor White and John Glenn missed the boat.

  45. joemammy says: Apr 19, 2013 12:09 PM

    ajgreenhof says:

    “Coming from a Bengals fan in Ohio I see Browns fans every now and then. They really just seem worn down. I’d like to see a day when Cincinnati and Cleveland were the top 2 in the AFC North.”
    ——————————

    It’s very nice of you to settle for second place, ajgreenhof.

  46. cometkazie says: Apr 19, 2013 12:12 PM

    dawgpoundjedi says:
    Apr 19, 2013 9:33 AM
    To all the Steeler and Raven fans posting nice comments… thank you. This is so ridiculous with our team at this point… it’s cool to see you guys supporting us.
    +-+-+

    Good fans stick together regardless of who they root for.

  47. wojlos says: Apr 19, 2013 12:27 PM

    Our time will come Browns fans. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure this situation can be resolved. GO BROWNS!

  48. jsrdc says: Apr 19, 2013 12:29 PM

    “I maintain that the foundation of this company is built on its integrity and that any willful wrongdoing by any employee of this company at any time is intolerable,”

    Ok, Haslam – whatever. Power concedes nothing, and greed is at an all-time high on this globe, and you are contributing to it. When is it enough? You make 5 billion, the next year you want 10 billion. You make 10 billion, the next year you want 20 billion. The problem is it is NEVER enough.

    Your next gig should be a politician – you will fit right in..

  49. camdenyard says: Apr 19, 2013 12:30 PM

    I guess Modell wasn’t so bad after all.

  50. outlawjerseywhales says: Apr 19, 2013 12:32 PM

    Since when does being a crook preclude one from owning an NFL (or any sport, for that matter) team?

  51. jackblackshairyback says: Apr 19, 2013 12:40 PM

    Actually, Ed Werder is quoting the NFL office as saying, “Mr. Haslam will be completely exonerated.”

  52. donmcg2012 says: Apr 19, 2013 12:52 PM

    Unreal, we Browns fans don’t deserve this. I’ve been saying for years we’ve been jinxed since 1999 return. Once again when things seem to want to get better and the future looks brighter, another kick in the teeth.

  53. bigbensucks says: Apr 19, 2013 3:15 PM

    Don’t put too much stock in anything Tony Grossi has to say.

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