Current Cleveland Browns owner, Randy Lerner, issued a statement on Friday morning that acknowledged the rumors that have been apparently circulating that he had been approached by Jimmy Haslam about becoming an investor in the Browns.
“In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I\’ve been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns,” Lerner said in a statement released by the team. “We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary.”
The interesting thing about all of this is that Haslam, who is the president and CEO of the Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J., the largest travel center operator in the nation, became a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers back in the early part of 2009.
While it is still unclear what type of stake that Haslam could end up having in the Browns, there has been no word from the Steelers if Haslam is in the process of selling his interest in the Steelers. According to a recent report by Forbes, the Browns are the 30th most valuable team in professional sports and valued at $977 million.
In an interview back in 2009, Halam was asked how he came about being interested in joining the Steelers as an investor and he said that he had been contacted by an investment banker representing the team. In the same interview he was asked if he was a Steeler fan prior to becoming an investor and he said, “No. I was actually originally a Dallas Cowboys fan and then an Indianapolis Colts fan.”
We will have too how all if this plays out and if the Steelers comment soon on it.