Goodell provides strongest statement of support yet for Haslam


Browns owner Jimmy Haslam consistently has denied knowledge of the customer rebate fraud that has resulted in seven federal guilty pleas and counting at Pilot Flying J, the truck-stop company Haslam runs.

On Thursday, Commissioner Roger Goodell supplied the strongest statement yet from the league in support of Haslam.

Jimmy Haslam is a man of great integrity,” Goodell said at a press conference held in connection with a USA Heads Up Football clinic, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  “We’re proud to have him as an owner in the NFL and think he’s going to be a great owner for the Cleveland Browns and their fans here.  He’s as disappointed as anybody in what happened at Pilot [Flying] J and he’s working hard to fix it and correct those issues, both from a structural standpoint and to make amends.  He’s kept me very much involved.  I think . . . as he tells me I was one of his first calls to inform me what was happening after he learned about it and he’s been great at keeping us informed.”

Goodell added that Haslam has told the league the same thing Haslam has told the public.

“He’s been very clear that he’s had no knowledge of that and he’s been clear publicly and clear with you all,” Goodell said.

The league has absorbed some criticism for approving Haslam’s purchase of the Browns without knowing about the federal investigation.  Some has suggested that Haslam’s status as a minority owner of the Steelers made the approval process for the Browns purchase perfunctory.

“When you’re going through a controlling ownership position, that’s a big step up so we don’t just pass that off,” Goodell said.  “We do the same vetting process.  Obviously he knows people in the league after being an owner, so there were certain aspects of that which were easier.  But we didn’t short-circuit anything. . . .  This was a surprise to him and his senior level management.  From that standpoint I don’t think he was aware of it and I don’t know any way we could have been aware of it.  It was not disclosed to us.”

Goodell has a point.  The investigation occurred secretly, with recorded conversations and confidential informants.  Before April 15, 2013, only the FBI and IRS and a small handful of employees knew what was happening.

Still, when Goodell says the situation was a “surprise” to senior management, it overlooks the contents of one of the seven plea deals, which states that senior management was aware of the scam.

Either way, the league — which has the resources to do its own investigation — apparently is confident that Haslam is telling the truth.  If/when Haslam faces criminal charges, the league will have to revisit the decision to take Haslam at his word.  An indictment essentially would mean that, in the opinion of the federal government, Haslam didn’t tell the NFL the truth.

As those who have lied to Goodell in the past have learned the hard way, that’s not a good idea.

24 responses to “Goodell provides strongest statement of support yet for Haslam

  1. Goodell backs every owner who’s SHADY like Mara and Haslam but is willing to cheat and conspire vs a great man like Dan Snyder Hmm…Shame on you National Fixed League! #RedskinsalwaysgetSCREWEDunfairlybytheNFL

  2. Does anyone really think that Goodell would be nearly as angry at an owner who lied to his face as a coach or player who didn’t cower at his feet and agree to his conflated definition of the rules? The root word of owner is own.

  3. Well, lets think about this. Commissioner appointed by owners. Owners approve sale to Haslem. Owners are appallingly rich and are rarely told they may have made a dumb mistake. Back up a little, super rich people don’t make mistakes and whatever Haslem did made him a lot of money soooooo it’s okay. Therefore, Roger will do nothing absent a prosecution that may make other owners nervous. Actually, very sad.

  4. I’m shocked Goodell would back an owner and run from handling Riley Cooper.

    Remember he’s the same guy who destroyed the spygate tapes. I don’t and will NEVER TRUST HIM.

  5. So I still wonder where Haslam thought a sudden multi-million dollar revenue stream was coming from.

    When your profits reflect a windfall, the man running the company himself, good ol’ Jimmy-Bob Haslam knows EXACTLY where that money came from.

    I never cease to be amazed at a man who convinces the NFL (also very greedy) that he is of high character and integrity because of his business skills and success and then CANNOT explain how millions of dollars just came pouring in out-of-nowhere.

    Dumb like a fox.

  6. Totally agree with first post that the Redskins got screwed, but so did the Cowboys. However, neither Snyder or Jones had the balls of Al Davis and filed suit against the bastards.

  7. This is one time i agree with you Florio , other
    than a couple rogue employees in cincy , who
    else could have known ?

  8. Does anyone believe goodell would discipline one of his bosses? Cant wait for this owner to go down and then we will see what good old roger has to say then. Dont forget people in higher positions of power in the nfl get even harder punishment than the players. Lets just hope he goes harder on haslam than he did josh mcdaniels a year or 2 after spygate 1 when he was caught doing spygate 2 over in london on the 49ers.#slaponwrist #thatswhyitkeepshappening

  9. Of course Haslam knew what was going on. He may not have started it, but he’s not going to stop extra cashflow while they are getting away with it. Goodell is an idiot for sucking up to Haslam and supporting him. It’s only going to make fans dislike him more, if that’s even possible.

  10. Smoke some weed get crucified… Steal millions from working class America is a free pass. Gotta love Roger’s NFL.

  11. Goodell has repeatedly suspended and fined players who were exonerated by the legal system, but brought shame to the “shield”. I guess this hasn’t harmed the “shield”. Of course, Haslam pays 1/32 of his salary.

  12. At the very least this is an embarrassment to the shield. I’m truly SICK of Goodell’s double standards.
    Haslem needs to be disciplined by the league.

  13. Who thinks Goodell always tells to the truth to the public, raise your hand? Even if he is truthful in this case, don’t forget that a certain baseball player for the Brewers denied up and down to everybody that he wasn’t taking PEDs until he was caught. Prepare for Goodell to eat his words.

  14. A man that gets paid gargantuan amounts of money to do a poor and incompetent job at managing and developing a business as well as promoting integrity, is a person who can compete on the world stage for most severe lack of integrity.

    Therefore this opinion is invalid since he’s unqualified to understand and appreciate integrity in addition to not possessing the quality himself. This is a preposterous statement for this kind of person to be making. How dare he and shame on him. But he’s Roger Goodell and I doubt he is worried about what I think.

    But what he can’t take away from me, is the smile on my face when PFT in the future reports a big story about the fall of Haslam and Goodell will inevitably get some extra egg on his face for this statement which will bring about a small reclamation of justice.

    Every little victory counts though when the stakes are so high, and this is a multi-billion dollar game and also the greatest sport in the world. No slack should be due to anybody that messes it up by not doing a fantastic job. Or at least a good job for cryin’ out mute.

  15. Eddy D a great owner got kicked out of the NFL. If nothing happens to this owner who’s team is the Chicago Cubs of baseball keeps his job. Well what a joke.

  16. “Still, when Goodell says the situation was a ‘surprise’ to senior management, it overlooks the contents of one of the seven plea deals, which states that senior management was aware of the scam… An indictment essentially would mean that, in the opinion of the federal government, Haslam didn’t tell the NFL the truth.”

    Really? What kind of legal reasoning is that? Goodell didn’t have to overlook anything to say what he did, and many indictments are politically corrupt. Not to suggest that Eric Holder’s folks are politically corrupt against Republican movers and shakers, of course.

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