Jimmy Haslam 'absolutely not' selling Browns amid FBI probe

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CBS) -- You can forgive new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam if he hasn't been "fired up to the max" much this summer, what with the FBI breathing down his neck as it investigates his trucking company, Pilot Flying J, for fraud.

But even though his offices have been raided, he's had to apologize to the other NFL owners and his control over the Browns has been questioned, Haslam says there's no chance he's selling the Cleveland franchise.

"Absolutely not," Haslam told ESPNCleveland.com. "We plan on owning the Browns for a long time.”

Perhaps the biggest indicator Haslam might deal the team came in the form of a report that Pilot Flying J had accumulated $4 billion in debt and seen its credit rating take a hit, a story Haslam wouldn't comment on when asked about by Tony Grossi.

The Browns owner did, however, seem "particularly irritated," Grossi writes, before pointing out a list of positive things the team's done since the new ownership took over.

“Since October, we put together a completely new front office, hired a new head head coach with two really good coordinators, sold naming rights to the stadium, and went through free agency and the draft,” Haslam said.

Haslam also pointed out the money ownership's pumped into improving the quality of the franchise off the field as well.

"We've spent $5 million remodeling [team headquarters in] Berea," Haslam said. "And we're working on an upwards of $100 million remodeling of the stadium. We've been very committed to turning this franchise around."

The NFL's appeared somewhat pleased with the way Haslam's handled things -- Roger Goodell said the Browns owner is "doing everything he's been asked" (NFL-wise, anyway) since the feds started investigating Pilot Flying J.

And Grossi reports from a league source that Haslam "has been working hand-in-glove" with the NFL during the investigation process.

“He is taking direction and he is taking advice [from the NFL]," the source told Grossi. "They even have a plan in place in the event there is an indictment [of Haslam] to maintain ownership of the Browns during the legal process."

Haslam, naturally, wouldn't comment on any such contingency plan, but it certainly stands to reason that the NFL wouldn't just ignore what's going on with Pilot Flying J and figure things out, if and when the mess hits the proverbial fan.

And whatever that plan is, it certainly doesn't appear to involve Haslam getting rid of the Browns anytime soon.


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