2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Browns doing business as usual amid federal probe

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-24 14:52

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The legal entanglement of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is not tying up his NFL franchise, the team's top executive says.

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.

In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday, Banner spoke openly 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.

``Jimmy really had a vision. He spoke about what his priorities were around creating a phenomenal fan experience and being focused on winning fans again. He hired me. We put together a team on a day-to-day basis to accomplish that. We're free and clear to do all that. Nothing has happened to impact our ability to do that or frankly given us any reason not to be successful.''

Banner said Haslam has remained involved in every aspect of the Browns since the investigation began and that he's determined to see every aspect of his plan through.

``Jimmy's here and incredibly supportive and a huge asset to us,'' said Banner, who spent 14 seasons in Philadelphia's front office before coming to Cleveland. ``He's made it clear and I've tried to make it clear without any ambiguity at all that he's not going to sell the team.''

Haslam is expected to be on the field Thursday when coach Rob Chudzinski holds his first practice.

The league has reserved any comment on Haslam's off-field issues until the situation is resolved. Still, Banner believes commissioner Roger Goodell is satisfied the Browns are running smoothly.

``I think the league feels really good about the way things are going, but they have a wait-and-see attitude as well,'' Banner said. ``I think they feel very good about Jimmy, he's been very open and transparent with them. I think they feel confident in the way they see him leading and the team we've put together to operate things.''

Banner acknowledged the investigation was ``a surprise'' but that it didn't sway his opinion about Haslam or give him any second thoughts about joining Cleveland. Banner remains confident and supportive of Haslam.

``He's been extremely open with me and felt it was appropriate I knew what was going on and reinforce the very same messages he said publicly,'' Banner said. ``We certainly discussed it, but I know him. I have a lot of confidence in him. I wouldn't say I had to be reassured.

``He's either in or he's not - and he's in.''

Based on his years in the league and knowing how it functions, Banner has always felt Haslam's arrival would change the outside perception of the Browns. Despite the legal case, Banner doesn't think much differently.

``Well, I think it's not as pure as it was, but I don't think it's spoiled,'' he said.

On other Browns-related issues, Banner said:

- Wide receiver Josh Gordon has some work to do to earn back the team's trust after being suspended two games for violating the league's drug policy. ``He understands he's going to be held accountable and he gets the rope that's left isn't long,'' Banner said. ``In working with the coaches they need to see that commitment, that work ethic. Obviously, off the field he needs to make good choices.''

- The Browns have sold more season tickets this offseason that at any time since 1999, and their renewal rate from last season was 94 percent.

- Plans for major renovations at FirstEnergy Stadium will be announced in the near future, but the team has promised a cleaner facility this season and fans will have improved cell phone service.

- Discussions have taken place about using artificial turf at the stadium, but the preference is to maintain a natural surface. ``Maybe we've got to replace it a little more frequently during the season but our strong inclination is to play football frankly outdoors and on a grass field,'' he said. ``That could change but we have a strong inclination to do it that way.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alfred MorrisNov 23 11:52p

Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris averaged 6.0 yards per attempt on 21 carries in the Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was his first 100-yard game [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 23 10:32p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's (knee) sprained knee did not respond as hoped before the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, so he was inactive. He could well miss more games.

Doug MartinNov 23 10:23p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) returned to the lineup in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. He carried 11 times for 27 yards. He was sidelined for [ More ]

Michael FloydNov 23 10:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd was targeted twice in the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he did not record any catches or offensive statistics.

DeAndre HopkinsNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins posted five receptions for 39 yards in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is now over 100 receptions for the first time in his career.

Jorvorskie LaneNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers FB Jorvorskie Lane (ankle) was carted off in the second quarter of the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears due to what head coach Lovie [ More ]

Mike EvansNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans had three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears. He has now scored at [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) suffered a pectoral injury in the Week 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he will go for an MRI. He might miss [ More ]

A.J. GreenNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green posted a career-high 12 receptions for 121 yards in Week 12 against the Houston Texans. 'It's just one of those days when you just [ More ]

Andre SmithNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (triceps) suffered a partially torn triceps muscle in the Week 12 against the Houston Texans. He will go for an MRI Monday, Nov. 24.

T Y HiltonNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton was up early Sunday, Nov. 23, for the birth of his daughter, and he promised a touchdown. After his wife delivered their child, he [ More ]

Eddie LacyNov 23 08:02p

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (illness) ran 25 times for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and he added two [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck completed 21 of his 32 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also ran eight times [ More ]

Charles JohnsonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson had three receptions for a team-high 52 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers.

Greg JenningsNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib) had four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers, his former team. It [ More ]

C. PattersonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle, knee) left the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers due to ankle and knee injuries.

LeGarrette BlountNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount carried 12 times for a team-high 78 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after re-signing with the team this week.

Golden TateNov 23 06:52p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate had four receptions for 97 yards in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. He went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Jonas GrayNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray did not play in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after he did not report to the team's facility Friday, Nov. [ More ]

Timothy WrightNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright played a season-high 60 snaps in Week 12 against the Detroit Lions, which shattered his previous best of 21 snaps, which he hit [ More ]

Kendall WrightNov 23 06:23p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright was limited to just one catch for 28 yards in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles. That catch did not come until 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Isaiah CrowellNov 23 06:12p

The Cleveland Browns have 14 rushing touchdowns this season, which is the most by the franchise since it had 14 in the 1989 season. The team had just four [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerNov 23 06:12p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger completed 20 of his 39 pass attempts for a career-high 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Week 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian HoyerNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer completed 23 of his 40 pass attempts for 322 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the Week 12 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Josh GordonNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon posted eight receptions for 120 yards in his regular season debut in Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons. He was targeted a game-high 16 times in the win.

Isaiah CrowellNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell carried 12 times for game-high 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Week 12 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

LeSean McCoyNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy carried 21 times for 130 yards and a rushing touchdown in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, and he added one reception for just one yard.

Mark SanchezNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez completed 30 of his 43 pass attempts for 307 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Week 12 win against the Tennessee Titans.

Darren SprolesNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles carried six times for 25 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, and he added three receptions for 14 yards.

Dwayne AllenNov 23 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) is inactive Sunday, Nov. 23, for Week 12.

Trent WilliamsNov 23 12:32p

Washington Redskins OT Trent Williams (ankle, knee) is not expected to play in Week 12 because of his injuries.

Danny LansanahNov 23 12:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah is moving from strongside linebacker to weakside linebacker in place of LB Lavonte David (hamstring). LB Orie Lemon will start at strongside linebacker.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group