Haslam in Cleveland; Browns saying little
BEREA, Ohio - Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is back with his football team, but he didn't participate in the Browns' pre-draft press conference Thursday afternoon.
Browns CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi didn't have much to say about Haslam and the situation with his Pilot Flying J company, either.
FBI and IRS agents executed search warrants at Pilot Flying J's Knoxville, Tenn. headquarters on Monday and again on Tuesday. Haslam stepped down as Pilot Flying J CEO last year after his bid for the Cleveland Browns was accepted by the NFL but later returned to the job.
Haslam spoke in Knoxville on Tuesday, confirming it was a criminal investigation involving rebates to trucking companies but saying he believed strongly that his company had done nothing wrong. The investigation was the first topic of conversation as Banner and Lombardi met with the media on Thursday.
"I think Jimmy made a statement the other day," Banner said. "There's not much I can add to it."
Banner said Haslam is at team headquarters Thursday and Friday "as planned" and the Browns operations a week before the 2013 NFL Draft are proceeding "the same as they would have been all along."
"This might take some time, but (Haslam) is very confident they've done nothing wrong and this will all work out," Banner said.
Banner and Lombardi didn't answer a question during the press conference about a potential public relations hit the Browns could take from Haslam's situation. Banner told the reporter who asked, "You can determine that for yourself.
"I think everything I can and want to say about this we've already said."