Some fear Pilot Flying J mess could drain Haslam financially

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In the three-plus weeks since the FBI and IRS unexpectedly appeared at the headquarters of Pilot Flying J to execute on a search warrant, the NFL has taken an “all is well” approach to the potential impact of the problems facing the company Jimmy Haslam runs upon the NFL team Haslam owns in Cleveland.

Privately, a higher level of concern apparently exists.

According to Mike Freeman of, “several” team officials fear that the situation ultimately will “drain” Haslam’s finances.  “This is more worrisome than people know,” an unnamed team official (presumably from a team other than the Browns) told Freeman.

Freeman points to a rash of lawsuits filed by Pilot Flying J customers as the primary reason for the concern.  But it would take a significant amount of civil liability to drive Pilot Flying J into bankruptcy; the bigger concern in our view should be the impact of the scandal on the ability of Pilot Flying J to generate revenue in the future.

Competitors surely are trying aggressively to convert customers from Pilot Flying J, citing uncertainty and fundamental mistrust as the main reasons for making a change.  If the business shrinks, Haslam may not generate enough money to service the debt associated with buying the Browns.

This leads to the separate question of whether Haslam even needs income from his interest in Pilot Flying J to pay the bills associated with owning the Browns.  Absent more information about the money Haslam has stockpiled over the years and the monthly “nut” he needs to meet in order to keep everything moving, it’s impossible to link the financial troubles of Pilot Flying J to the eventual demise of Haslam’s ownership of the Browns.

Thus, potential criminal liability provides the greatest possible threat to Haslam’s short reign as Browns owner.  The 120-page affidavit submitted in connection with the search warrant contains limited evidence that Haslam knew about the alleged rebate/discount fraud against the company’s customers.  If there’s more proof that hasn’t been made public — either in secretly taped conversations or in information seized from company headquarters — or if any of Haslam’s key lieutenants trade testimony against him for favorable treatment from prosecutors, Jimmy could be getting indicted.

And if he gets indicted, it’s hard to imagine a league that cracks down aggressively on misbehaving players allowing Haslam to continue to keep his hands on the wheel of the Browns.

36 responses to “Some fear Pilot Flying J mess could drain Haslam financially

  1. Goodell is not going to fine his boss…..

    He’ll fine a player for having socks to low or walking into a strip club, but an owner that blatantly steals from his employees… Where do you think Goodell learned it?

  2. He is accused of being a thief. As it stands today,he commands respect and obedience based entirely on the size of his bank account….if it is found his money is ill gotten,he deserves nothing but scorn……wealth is indicative of nothing more than an ability to accumulate it…It is not an indicator of intelligence,integrity or any other positive quality. While wealthy people can certainly be all of these things,they can just as easily be devoid of them. Corporate takers are clear proof of this fact. Haslam appears to be yet another example of those whose bidding we do while ignoring their transgressions upon our economy,society and environment for no reason other than their willingness and ability to take advantage of others and our trickle down system…..out he goes and good riddance….

  3. As a Redskins fan I really really feel so bad for all the Browns fan base. This fan base deserve better that the currant IDIOT IN CHARGE. I know its easy for me to say hang in their Browns fans. What else is their to say. Hopefully better times are around the corner.

  4. 8to8otexansblog,

    in the USA someone is presumed innocent until proven guility. I have no dog in this fight these are allegations and investigation.

    I thought the new owner Haslam looked like a fresh breath for Browns fans but lets not execute somone before their day in court.

    I’m sure fans of the other three AFCN teams probably feel different.

  5. 1) He didn’t steal from employees
    2) He hasn’t been indited yet.
    3)He is not the first owner to have legal problems at his real job.
    4)He is the first “Browns” owner since McBride to show the heart these long starved fans have.
    5)This is Cleveland, cut them some slack at least until after the trial.

  6. Haslem deserves to lose all the money he and jis comapany has. Stealing money off other people’s hard work and condoning illegal practices. That’s wrong. I see now how people get elite wealthy in America. Steal it. This guy is no better than Bernie Madoff. Why offer a fuel program that supposed to save trucking companies and other businesses money, and then not pay.

  7. With a miscreant name like “pilot flying j” is it any surprise that indictments follows the company. No corporation ever had a more villainous sounding name.

  8. 8to80texansblog
    May 8, 2013, 4:27 PM EDT
    Goodell is not going to fine his boss…..

    He’ll fine a player for having socks to low or walking into a strip club, but an owner that blatantly steals from his employees… Where do you think Goodell learned it?
    Dude, get a clue. Not a big fan of Goodell, but you want him to fine Haslam for something that has nothing to do with the NFL? You can’t even fine Haslam for detrimental conduct because he hasn’t even been personally accused of anything yet. Just breathe a bit.

  9. “it’s impossible to link the financial troubles of Pilot Flying J to the eventual demise of Haslam’s ownership of the Browns.”
    Interesting choice of article title then. Hits anyone?

  10. Hard to believe that, since the TV deal puts close to 90 million in each teams pocket every year, and the cap is only 125 per team…

    when you start adding up the $100 tickets, the 7.00 hot dogs, the $9.00 beers, the $45 to park, etc….hard to believe that

  11. I wonder if he was even running the company. It’s possible that he doesn’t even go into the office. If that’s the case all of this could have happened without his knowledge. I’m not saying that’s what happen here but I may be something to think about before we pass judgement. I more concerned with how it was possible for three girls to be held within miles of thier homes and the Cleveland police didn’t have a clue

  12. Imagine if Cleveland would have just built that new stadium in 1995 instead of 1999…….

  13. He did a white collar crime and stole millions so the most he’ll get is probably 2-5 years in “jail” if that. He’d get more time in a worse place if he sold a few hundred dollars of weed or stole a tv or something.

  14. Debartolo was suspended which led to forfeiture of the 49ers for something that had nothing at all to do with the NFL and he was on the receiving end of an extortion attempt under a more lenient comish to boot. Maybe you need to get a clue logisticalvoices. Its right there available to see that it would not be the first time

  15. It’s Cleveland….just put Charles Ramsey in charge of the franchise. Imagine the post game press conferences every Sunday! LOLOL!!!

  16. NFL teams are income generators, not income losers. When a team is sold, the value is associated with the income it generates – and so long as the team earnings stay the same or increase, there shouldn’t be an issue unless the purchaser pays beyond the “value”.

    Do you think Green Bay comes up with money to fund the team? No – it funds itself and pays back the town.

  17. If the “team officials” are owners, they have seen Haslam’s finances. If they are worried, then Cleveland fans should be worried. This is a purchase valued at $700 million with a future payment due to the Lerner’s of $300 million versus any offsets.

    NFL regulations limit the amount of total debt, including lines of credit. If Haslam doesn’t have the funds to run the team, it causes a loss of income to other teams. Remember there is a sharing of gate etc…

    If I was another owner, I would be concerned. Haslam is making big payments to settle possible civil action he faces certain fines if not fines and jail if he is convicted. There must be real concern about his cash flow.

  18. In all honesty, there is already another billionaire ready to buy the Browns the minute they’d be on the market. It’s a cash cow for any owner because their fans show up regardless of their record, and haven’t had a blackout since before Modell moved them.

  19. 500 million in the bank wasn’t enough for this guy. His greed probably goes a lot deeper then this. Let him fade away in jail so others will learn.

  20. He is a billionaire, so even if he has done something wrong, he will still get away with it.

  21. ladies, ladies. Surely there must be another outlet for you to spew judgment trying to look clever while butchering the english language. was sup bra?

  22. BP is still raking in mountains of cash every day.

    People are to lazy to drive a couple blocks off the highway to choose an alternative. All will be forgotten in a year.

  23. It’s becoming pretty evident that big corporations get that way from an abundance of greed and disregard for anything that doesn’t fulfill their greedy ambitions.

  24. This is america Billionaires don’t go to prison they apologize, pay some insignificant fine and go about their business. Haven’t we learned anything from the financial scandals, the gulf oil spill, the housing crisis………..etc. etc. etc.

  25. If Pilot Flying J have really been doing this, Now think about it for a second. If they are stealing money from trucking companys by not giving them the discounts. Trucking companys have to charge more to haul the goods that you and me and anyone that uh drives a car, goes to Walmart or any store, buys a saw or lumber at Home Depot. Everything that we buy has been on a truck at some point. P&FJ ripoff the trucks and they have to charge more to get the stuff to market. The store pays more and in turn they charge more to us. I would bet that alot of people hate truck on the highway and cut them off and try to not let them change lanes so you dont care about what I am saying. Every time you go to Safeway do you know what it really takes to get that produce there. Right now I just loaded Lettuce in Salinas Ca. that is going to Harrisburg Pa. About 40.000 lbs of it. How much Diesel do you think it will take to get it across the country. I can tell you just the fuel for one truck will cost $1800 to $1900. So P&FJ steals an extra $0.01 from every gallon of Diesel, 500 gallons $5.00 for one load across the country, You thing no big deal, but wait, lets just say that 1000 trucks loaded in Salinas headed to the east coast today, things add up really fast. I live on the west coast and 1 head of iceburg lettuce that I bought yesterday was $1.20. How much is it in PA. Bottom line is that P&FJ is making the price that you pay go up for you if they are really have done this. It is a big deal. My #s are not exact but you can get an idea of what it costs to do something that most people grip about when they see a truck on the highway.

  26. Actually, what someone said here is the key. Since the NFL limits credit a team can have “against” it, any money borrowed by Haslam for the Browns was most likely leveraged by other assets – aka Flying J.

    Basically, whoever loaned him the “cash” took collateral against assets other than the team due to those NFL regulations.

  27. Oh, just put the Browns in Foreclosure already, NFL.

    The Cleveland Browns = The Los Angeles Smog.

  28. What happened to innocent until proven guilty. Let the process play out before making any decisions.

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