Moments after pressing “publish” on the item regarding the rumor that the Browns have been sold, a statement from owner Randy Lerner popped into our emailbox.
“In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I’ve been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns,” Lerner says. “We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary.”
We’re not quite sure what that means. By using only the term “investment,” Lerner’s statement doesn’t reveal whether he’s considering selling a minority share, a majority share, or all of the team.
Haslam is president and chief executive officer of Pilot Flying J, one of the largest privately-held companies in the U.S. The company is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The good news is that, if the University of Tennessee alum purchases the Browns, he won’t have to alter his game-day wardrobe.
UPDATE 10:03 a.m. ET: The folks at ESPN 850, who got the ball rolling an hour ago on this story, are treating it as a given that Haslam will be buying the team from Lerner. The Browns, through spokesman Neal Gulkis, have declined to elaborate on Lerner’s statement.