Seven employees of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's company, Pilot Flying J, have already pleaded guilty in a rebate-fraud scheme that's being investigated by the FBI. Some have told the feds that senior executives were aware of what was going on, and Pilot Flying J recently reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with trucking firms that the company had shorted. Haslam, for his part, has assured Roger Goodell that he knew nothing about anything.
Per the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot, here's what Goodell had to say yesterday at Browns camp:
"Jimmy Haslam is a man of great integrity. We're proud to have him as an owner in the NFL and think he's going to be a great owner for the Cleveland Browns and their fans here. He's as disappointed as anybody in what happened at Pilot J and he's working hard to fix it and correct those issues, both from a structural standpoint and to make amends. He's kept me very much involved. I think ... as he tells me I was one of his first calls to inform me what was happening after he learned about it and he's been great at keeping us informed.''
"You never want to see this kind of thing happen, particularly to a partner in the league,'' said Goodell, who spoke to Haslam inside the Browns' facility. "So obviously his partners care a great deal about him and as a partner they want to see him getting off to a good start. This is not what anybody intended, not (what) anybody anticipated, but he’s a man that I think everyone truly respects in the NFL."
"He's been very clear that he’s had no knowledge of that and he’s been clear publicly and clear with you all.''
Something tells me Roger Goodell wouldn't be throwing his arm around, say, a cornerback with known criminal associates who've stolen millions of dollars.