There was a report early on Friday that the FBI and IRS investigation of Pilot Flying J might cause Jimmy Haslam, who owns both that company and the Cleveland Browns, to step away from the Browns temporarily.
Haslam said earlier this week that it would be “business as usual” with the Browns while the FBI and IRS look at his other business and Ed Werder of ESPN reports that he’s still holding fast to the belief that his status with the Browns will not change. Werder reports that Haslam, who is in Cleveland for draft prep, has reassured employees that “his NFL position is not jeopardized by fraud allegations.”
We’re not sure how vital Haslam is to the draft prep since he probably didn’t have much time to scout the college ranks while buying the Browns and running his truck stop business, so this probably wouldn’t be the worst time for him to step away from the team while the fraud investigation plays out.
The league has yet to make any comment since news of the FBI’s visit to Pilot Flying J’s headquarters broke on Monday. With Haslam making it clear that he won’t take a voluntary leave from the team, it will be up to the NFL to decide whether or not they want some distance between the Browns and their owner.