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Report: If Browns owner Jimmy Haslam steps down, father would take control


BEREA -- If Browns owner Jimmy Haslam were to turn over control of the team because of future developments in the federal investigation of Pilot Flying J, his father would take over the team, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported.

Haslam and the NFL developed a contingency plan after Pilot Flying J’s headquarters were raided April 15 by the FBI, Kaplan reported, citing sources.

It's not a surprise that his father would be the choice to take temporary leadership.

Jim Haslam II, 83, founded Pilot in 1958 and gave up day-to-day control to Jimmy in 1997. Haslam II played offensive lineman on the University of Tennessee’s national championship team in 1951. He accompanied his son to Cleveland last summer when Haslam agreed to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner for $1 billion.

“No decision to step back has been made, so looking into who would take over is purely speculative,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email. “Jimmy is the best judge of how to keep the focus of the Browns on football and the fans.”

Haslam has repeatedly denied knowing about the fraud scheme at Pilot Flying J to cheat trucking companies of their proper rebates. Seven employees have pleaded guilty and more than 20 trucking companies have filed lawsuits.

Haslam said last month at the start of training camp that he's optimistic about the outcome of the investigation and his family plans to own the Browns for a long time.

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