Jimmy Haslam, whose purchase of the Cleveland Browns was unanimously approved in October, apologized to fellow NFL owners for the negative attention an ongoing federal investigation targeting his family business, Pilot Flying J, has brought upon the league, USA Today reported.
Since the FBI and Internal Revenue Service raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J on April 15 in Knoxville, Tenn., Haslam has issued several apologies and denied his knowledge of an alleged fraud scheme that the FBI said cheated trucking-company customers out of millions of dollars of rebates they were contractually promised for buying certain amounts of diesel fuel.
Haslam, the CEO of the company, continued to maintain his innocence while explaining his side of the story to his NFL brethren on Tuesday during the league meetings in Boston, according to the report.
He addressed the other owners for about five minutes before a lunch break. It wasn’t on the agenda, but Haslam asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he could speak to the group.
“I thought it was important,” Haslam told USA Today. “We’re partners in the NFL. I wanted to address them face-to-face.”
Linebacker Brian Urlacher, recently cut free by the Chicago Bears after 13 seasons as the standard-bearer of their defense, announced his retirement yesterday.
In March, Urlacher and the Bears were unable to reach agreement on a contract and he became a free agent.
He started 180 games from 2000 to 2012 and made a team-record 1,779 tackles. He had 411/2 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles.
Last year, he was slowed by a knee problem and then missed the final four games because of a hamstring injury.
San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree had surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon.Crabtree had the surgery yesterday, a day after suffering the injury during an organized team activity. Coach Jim Harbaugh said that Crabtree is not expected to miss the entire 2013 season, though he declined to give a timetable for Crabtree’s return.
Crabtree, 25, had career highs last season with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.
• Bruce Tollner, the agent for first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei, said his client has signed a four-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. Financial terms were not released. The deal includes a team option for a fifth season.
• St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins has been suspended without pay for the season opener for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. • The Browns have waived fourth-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.