The legal entanglement of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is not tying up his NFL franchise, the team’s top executive said.
On the eve of training camp, CEO Joe Banner said the federal investigation into fraud at Haslam’s Pilot Flying J truck-stop business has not hindered the club’s daily operations or impacted the owner’s vision for turning the Browns into perennial winners.
And as for the possibility Haslam will sell his team, Banner does not envision that happening.
“I don’t see that scenario, but you know,” Banner said before trailing off.
Banner spoke openly yesterday about Haslam’s situation, which hangs over a team that has had just two winning seasons since its rebirth in 1999. Banner tried to ease the concerns of some nervous Cleveland fans, who fear the ongoing federal probe will derail the team’s plans and lead to further turmoil.
Haslam, who bought the Browns last year from Randy Lerner, recently reached a settlement with some Pilot Flying J customers who were cheated out of rebate money. Haslam has professed his innocence since FBI and IRS agents raided the company’s Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters on April 15.
While Banner appreciates there are those who worry about the team’s future, he said nothing has interrupted the plan Haslam launched last August.
“It really hasn’t affected us at all,” he said. “We have a team we put together here of really, really good people, whether we’re talking the coaching staff, the business side, even our foundation. We’re really excited about the team we put together.”
Belichick discusses Hernandez situation
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick broke his silence on the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, saying the club will learn from “this terrible experience” and it’s time to “move forward.”
Four weeks after the former Patriots tight end was charged with murder and cut by the team, Belichick addressed the issue during a 22-minute news conference one day before his team opens training camp.
He expressed sympathy for the family of shooting victim Odin Lloyd, said the in-depth process of studying a player’s background is “far from perfect” but wouldn’t be overhauled, and took responsibility for bringing people to the team.
“The hundreds of players we’ve had through this program in the last 14 years, there’s been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones,” Belichick said. “We’ll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we’ve made.”& amp; amp; lt; /p>
Recovering Griffin won’t play in preseason
Robert Griffin III said he doesn’t think he’ll play in any exhibition games.
The Washington Redskins quarterback also said that he’ll be limited in practice when the team opens training camp today. Griffin said he was cleared by doctors a few days ago, about 61/2 months after he had reconstructive surgery on his right knee.
Bengals’ Smith not ready for camp
Right offensive tackle Andre Smith will be out because of an injured calf when the Cincinnati Bengals open training camp today.