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Haslam, Goodell meet regarding Pilot Flying J probe

NFL Commissioner Goodell takes part in an NFL Play 60 Youth Football Clinic in New York City Reuters

Six years after draft week was marred by the discovery of a dog-fighting operation on Mike Vick’s property in rural Virginia, another controversy has landed in the lap of the league as draft day looms.

And Commissioner Roger Goodell has had to spend time trying to figure out what happened.

Via multiple reports, Goodell met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in New York on Tuesday.  Goodell disclosed the meeting during a pre-draft event on Wednesday.

“Jimmy is doing everything he’s asked,” Goodell said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  “He’s cooperating.  He wants to make sure that he is doing all of the right things in that regard and he has assured us that he is going to [do all of the right things].”

Goodell also addressed the fact that the league didn’t know about the fraud investigation at Pilot Flying J when Haslam received approval to buy the Browns.

“It’s an investigation and it was held very tightly by the FBI and the authorities,” Goodell said.  “They didn’t share this information with us and they shouldn’t.  That’s something that is their prerogative.”

Still, the NFL surely would have preferred knowing.  Which raises an obvious question to which the league likely won’t provide a straight answer.

If you knew then what you know now, would Haslam have been approved as the owner of the team?

Though we’ll never know the truth on that point, Haslam would be wise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth to Goodell.

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56 Responses to “Haslam, Goodell meet regarding Pilot Flying J probe”
  1. jayovalentine says: Apr 24, 2013 2:10 PM

    This has to suck for Cleveland fans….

  2. nyyjetsknicks says: Apr 24, 2013 2:11 PM

    Goodell: Millions in fraud? Don’t worry about it. Make sure all the Browns are wearing the proper color socks at the right height.

  3. cowboyhater says: Apr 24, 2013 2:12 PM

    “Though we’ll never know the truth on that point, Haslam would be wise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth to Goodell.”

    ————————————————————————————

    A little late for that don’t you think?

  4. barneyrumble says: Apr 24, 2013 2:15 PM

    What is it with Cleveland? God needs to give that town and that city’s sports teams a break, not a suspected fraudulent Browns owner. Stay classy Cleveland.

  5. citizenstrange says: Apr 24, 2013 2:17 PM

    Roger Goodell: “Now Jimmy, is there any evidence you want me to destroy the nanosecond I get it?”

  6. turkjones says: Apr 24, 2013 2:19 PM

    As a lifelong Browns fan and small business owner who plays by the rules, I believe Goodell and the owners should force Haslam to sell if he is found to be complicit.

    “Robin Hoods in reverse” like Haslam are responsible for eliminating the middle class and creating the greatest income disparity we’ve seen in US history.

    In the words of the venerable Robert Reich: “We’re now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top, and the rest of the population doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.”

    “Bigplay” Haslam should be ashamed of himself.

  7. wryly1 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:21 PM

    It’s not a matter of if, only when, Haslam will have to sell and get out of the NFL.

  8. runwright44 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:22 PM

    Cannot believe how much has gone wrong in Cleveland since the desertion to Baltimore. A series of five-year plans always scraped after 2-3 years. Hang in Browns fans; it’s got to get better sometime.

  9. Max says: Apr 24, 2013 2:23 PM

    This is far worse than Michael Vick crimes. Haslam was effectively stealing and defrauding american small businesses. White collar crimes cost america more every year than any other.

  10. stoolerz says: Apr 24, 2013 2:24 PM

    Poor Cleveland fans, they’ve been crapped on so long by their sports teams that this episode is a mere blip on their radar. To quote Haslam: “This is business as usual”.

  11. whitdog23 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:25 PM

    what authority does goodell have to tell him to sell? he can only stop approval of him buying the team…which already happened. this has no impact on browns fans or the team other than embarrasment

  12. sdchicken says: Apr 24, 2013 2:28 PM

    Is it just me or is “Pilot Flying J” just a strange business name. For some reason it just bothers me.

  13. jholtan56 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:31 PM

    Can the FBI subpoena Goodell now? And force Goodell to tell everything he knows to the courts or be subject to perjury?

  14. stigman2012 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:33 PM

    Haslam would be wise to tell Goodell nothing whatsoever. Believe his issues go a bit beyond the Browns.

  15. Max says: Apr 24, 2013 2:33 PM

    @turkjones says: Apr 24, 2013 2:19 PM

    As a lifelong Browns fan and small business owner who plays by the rules, I believe Goodell and the owners should force Haslam to sell if he is found to be complicit.

    “Robin Hoods in reverse” like Haslam are responsible for eliminating the middle class and creating the greatest income disparity we’ve seen in US history.

    In the words of the venerable Robert Reich: “We’re now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top, and the rest of the population doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.”

    “Bigplay” Haslam should be ashamed of himself.

    ________________________________

    One the best comments I have read.. therefore you can expect down votes

  16. 4greatestvikingever says: Apr 24, 2013 2:33 PM

    I wonder if we’ll see Cleveland forfeiting draft picks?

  17. buminaroundbrown says: Apr 24, 2013 2:35 PM

    & we all thought Modell was a bad business man.

  18. turkjones says: Apr 24, 2013 2:35 PM

    “Is it just me or is “Pilot Flying J” just a strange business name. For some reason it just bothers me.”

    ———-

    I’m pretty sure “Pilot” and “Flying J” were two separate companies that merged names in addition to business, like Sirius XM.

    That said, “Flying J” sounds more like something that happened in Honey Badger’s dorm room than a gas station.

  19. scottplayersfacemask says: Apr 24, 2013 2:36 PM

    Even the FBI has it in for Cleveland. They admitted the investigation has been ongoing for approx 5 years. Haslam was a minority owner of the Steelers since 12-08. He sold his portion of the Steelers on 4-11-13. FBI raided his company four days later on 4-15-13. We Browns fans thank you for that sweet timing Feds!!

  20. jimmyt says: Apr 24, 2013 2:36 PM

    Of course he would have been approved, even with this investigation guys like Kraft make him look like an angel.

  21. thewizardofbs says: Apr 24, 2013 2:42 PM

    No wonder Lebraun James couldn’t wait to get out of Cleveland. He will win at least 6 championship rings in Miami, how many would he win in Cleveland?

  22. nineroutsider says: Apr 24, 2013 2:48 PM

    This will be about the quickest ownership stint the league has ever seen. Bye Bye Mr. Haslem, we hardly knew ya!

    Just terrible for Cleveland fans though, but hopefully the league has a QUALITY prospect on the backburner who wants to win and won’t take 5 years of making more mistakes to figure out how to win.

    Haslem will be gone though, its just a matter of time.

  23. harrisonhits2 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:49 PM

    “Max says:
    This is far worse than Michael Vick crimes. Haslam was effectively stealing and defrauding american small businesses. White collar crimes cost america more every year than any other.”

    Totally different things from each other. Violent crime vs theft. They are both abhorrent behaviour and despicable.

    Haslam should be booted from the league and forced to sell if found guilty.

  24. st1llerz1 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:49 PM

    And the City of Sorrow continues to spew… Let’s set the river on fire to celebrate!!

  25. cmich2006 says: Apr 24, 2013 2:49 PM

    All the players Goodell suspended were cooperating too… What preferential treatment for an owner?

  26. thedownwardspiral says: Apr 24, 2013 3:04 PM

    Owners should be held to the same heavy-handed, jump-to-conlusion, judge-jury-executioner, Goodell rules as the players.

    But of course, its one of the rich owners who employs Goodell, so it ain’t happening.

    smh

  27. ijahru says: Apr 24, 2013 3:05 PM

    smoking weed will get you 4 games, how much is a multi million dollar fraud worth?

  28. brownoholic says: Apr 24, 2013 3:14 PM

    I wonder if we’ll see Cleveland forfeiting draft picks?
    ————————————————

    We would under Dwight Clark, Butch Davis, Phil Savage, Eric Mangini, and occasionally Mike Holmgren.

  29. seaeagle707 says: Apr 24, 2013 3:19 PM

    Wonder how many tractor-trailers it would take to encircle the Browns stadium and create a Sunday barricade? Just sayin…………

  30. scottplayersfacemask says: Apr 24, 2013 3:22 PM

    Some more “fun facts”:
    There are over 400 billionaires in the United States.
    15 of the 32 NFL teams are owned by billionaires.
    Roger Goodell hooked Cleveland up with the only billionaire that apparently wasn’t satisfied with just being a billionaire.

  31. ballboy48 says: Apr 24, 2013 3:22 PM

    If Haslam’s company is found guilty of wrongdoing, he should be required to immediately put the Browns up for sale. There is no place for shady business.

    In the same breath, the investigation has no impact on the Cleveland Browns decision making, as it is done by player personnel. So, us Browns fans are not concerned with roster decisions. Don’t feel sorry for us, becuase we continue to fill the stadium week in, week out, regardless of record, owner, etc. It seems that some feel the need to harp on the Browns, because they wish they had a fan base as loyal, as Cleveland’s! There are plenty of bandwagon fan bases out there, that wouldn’t be able to withstand half of what Cleveland has been through (i.e. BAL, PIT, NE).

    Cheers,

    Browns Fans

  32. mackcarrington says: Apr 24, 2013 3:24 PM

    This is uncharted territory. We’re used to seeing players serve time in the slam, but what happens when an owner goes to prison?

  33. showmethemtds says: Apr 24, 2013 3:28 PM

    Not a Brown’s fan, but it really sucks that just when it looks like things may change for the better for them, it becomes worse. The fans that have already lost their team once, only to have them come back and continuously lose deserve much better.

  34. drbob117 says: Apr 24, 2013 3:33 PM

    Haslem had better tell Roger, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth , then let his lawyers fight with the justice dept. over what exactly happened. But any attempt for him to skate around the facts with the Commish would be a bad idea. For those that don’t believe that see: Saints, New Orleans.

  35. beelicker says: Apr 24, 2013 3:33 PM

    You’d have your Pilot(tm) fuel centers & gas stop stations & your Flying J(tm) truck stops, which feature Pilot fuel & features. Must have been a merger to have formed a Pilot Flying J parent umbrella or something along the way there …

  36. linvillegorge says: Apr 24, 2013 3:48 PM

    I think Roger Goodell is the least of Haslam’s worries right now. The FBI and the threat of federal prison would rank a little higher on my list of concerns.

  37. digitaldonnie says: Apr 24, 2013 3:48 PM

    Remember. …all this went down when he was a minority owner of the Steelers. Cleveland nor The Browns were associated with this scum bag until last September/October.

  38. majormeatcurtains says: Apr 24, 2013 3:52 PM

    What does a bunch of truck stops have to do with his other business? Aren’t the truck stop customers partially responsible for paying more that their contract stated? Don’t they have those guys called accountants? These are totally separate businesses so even if he gets fined or something for the Flying J issue it shouldn’t affect his NFL franchise unless as a result he can’t make payroll or tries to put Cleveland on the hot seat to make up for his other losses. This is why I’m against public funding for stadiums. No billionaire has 100% clean hands, that’s how they got billions. They should pay their own overhead and operating expenses because they reap the profits.

  39. officialgame says: Apr 24, 2013 3:54 PM

    Obvious answer, if the league knew, NO.

  40. camdenyard says: Apr 24, 2013 4:07 PM

    Another failure for the Clowns.

  41. skiss68 says: Apr 24, 2013 4:10 PM

    I think Goodell should be suspended for the year, without pay for allowing this guy to own the Browns. Nice work Roger. Maybe if u werent so busy handing out senseless fines to your players u would have had time to investigate Jimmygate.

  42. scotttheskeptic says: Apr 24, 2013 4:14 PM

    Any chance the Feds go after the franchise as ill-gotten gains? Could NFL block DOJ from foreclosing?

  43. johnqlunchbox says: Apr 24, 2013 4:24 PM

    PLEASE sell this team to the City of Cleveland, just like the Green Bay franchise. I would gladly pay for one of those shares of basically useless “stock” that can be sold to finance the purchase, and every other Browns fan I know would do the same.

  44. commonsensedude says: Apr 24, 2013 4:33 PM

    Haslam probably heard how good Goodell is at destroying video evidence and wanted to get his opinion about the best shredders and de-magnetizers that the League has to offer.

  45. brownsfanincali says: Apr 24, 2013 4:45 PM

    Me too, John … Our Browns have been abused enough.

  46. green41563 says: Apr 24, 2013 4:46 PM

    johnqlunchbox says:
    Apr 24, 2013 4:24 PM
    PLEASE sell this team to the City of Cleveland
    __________________________________

    Well, Cleveland’s in really good shape, so it’d probably do a good job owning the Browns.

  47. jayniner says: Apr 24, 2013 4:53 PM

    Cleveland fans: It gets better…and 49ers fans everywhere share your pain and can attest to this…..

    Let me introduce you to our 49ers from 2003-2010(whether or not it relates to the Eddie DeBartolo situation):
    2003 7-9
    2004 2-12
    2005 4-12
    2006 7-9
    2007 5-11
    2008 7-9
    2009 8-8 *only .500 or better season
    2010 6-10

    2011, 2012 and beyond……well, you know the rest…

    We were the most disappointed, disillusioned, liver-damaged fans in sports during this time…

    ….so hang in there……..it gets better

  48. audient says: Apr 24, 2013 5:04 PM

    If the Feds go after the Browns franchise as an asset, at worst what could happen is that the franchise would go into a trust pending a sale while the business of the organization carried on.

    Jimmy Haslam may have done Browns fans a favor by leaving town a few weeks ago to go back to Tennessee to tend to the family business. It shows that Jimmy Haslam is not especially involved in the day to day operations of the Browns, and if he were lost altogether, that the organization would carry on accordingly under Joe Banner — until such time as a new owner comes in.

    Of course, that’s the part that stinks. Presumably any new owner will want to hire his own people to do what Banner and Lombardi et al are doing now.

  49. green41563 says: Apr 24, 2013 6:27 PM

    Pilot Flying J-ail.

  50. z0inks says: Apr 24, 2013 6:31 PM

    Figure out how much each company was bilked for, and then require Haslam to allocate an equivalent portion of ownership in the Browns franchise to each of those companies.

    These companies will receive yearly ownership dividends based on the team’s yearly revenue….and when Haslam eventually sells the team years from now (when ownership shares would likely be significantly more valuable than it is today), their portion of the selling price would more than cover their original losses and then some.

  51. pmars64 says: Apr 24, 2013 6:32 PM

    If Haslam loses the Browns and it results in Banner and Lombardi getting the boot with a new owner, then I won’t sweat it. Banner’s delusional if he thinks that he can pick players and his draft this weekend will show it. He can’t get the boot fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

  52. scrp2 says: Apr 24, 2013 6:45 PM

    Dan Snyder is just beside himself the league is now tainted.

  53. geauxjay says: Apr 24, 2013 6:48 PM

    Maybe he should have gathered 50,000 pages of evidence on him like he did with the Saints.

  54. fmwarner says: Apr 24, 2013 7:00 PM

    Haslam is going to be the William Henry Harrison of NFL owners.

  55. r0b1b0y says: Apr 24, 2013 7:06 PM

    Haslam owes nothing to Goodell, he is his boss not the other way around

  56. Al says: Apr 24, 2013 9:12 PM

    Lifelong Browns fan here and another small business owner who did it the hard, honest way… If Haslam knew about this rebate scheme, then I hope his former minions turn on him, and he permanently loses his team, his customers, and his reputation. He should also lose his freedom for a few years. This country is suffering because of cheating, entitled, dirt-bags like this who think they’re smarter than the people they cheat. I bet Jimmuh doesn’t feel much like a fox right now.

    The kind words about Browns fans here are nice, but we’re not worried. We just want to move on from this clown.

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