Browns owner's problems not going away

Browns owner's problems not going away
July 4, 2013, 12:30 am
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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III during a press conference at the team's training facility.

(David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

As if Browns fans didn’t have enough to worry about, with a new regime taking over, meaning they are again in a building mode, there is also this matter of owner Jimmy Haslam. Pilot Flying J, Haslam’s company of nationwide truck stops, is being investigated by the FBI because of possible fraud. In addition, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Pilot Flying J is $4 billion in debt and Standard & Poor’s used the word “significant” to describe the company’s financial risk.

This made Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto write: “Nearly every week there is a something in the news that makes me wonder how Jimmy Haslam will be able to be the long-term owner of the Browns. …

“Obviously, Haslam has a lot of assets, including about 600 truck stops and the Browns. But you like the owner of your team to have a steady cash flow and not a mountain of legal concerns.”

Maybe that $4 billion — four times what Haslam paid for the Browns — isn’t as big a deal as it sounds to the average football fan and maybe if Haslam can emerge from this investigation relatively unscathed, he can get that debt down quickly. But then again, if the probe drags on and Haslam’s debt drags on, it has to affect his ownership of the Browns, no matter how much he says to the contrary.

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