Jimmy Haslam, this year’s owner of the Cleveland Browns, is facing a long summer. Like previous owners, he is looking for ways to coax a winner out of the perennially forlorn team that has never been to the Super Bowl. The other day one of the team’s new draft picks was arrested and pleaded no contest to DWI after once promising that he would shape up his off-the-field lifestyle. Finally, about that draft, the team’s brain trusts insisted that they’re looking to 2014 to turn the Browns around – sort of up-down-talk when you’re trying to sell season tickets for 2013.
But Haslam has other things on his mind, too. Back on April 15, the FBI raided the headquarters of Haslam’s family-owned Pilot Flying J in Knoxville, Tenn., which is not about air travel at all but rather is the host of a national chain of truck stops. The Feds call it an ongoing investigation as they seek to build a case of fraudulent – to put it mindfully – bookkeeping and ripoffs of companies doing business with Pilot Flying J.
This is likely to go on much longer than one of the team’s many errant downfield passes. (OK, so I’m from the Pittsburgh area and a Steelers fan. Make of it what you will.)
On Tuesday, Haslam appeared at a brief press in Westlake, Oh., to apologize for letting down the Browns’ fans and promised to “work through this situation”. Let’s stop there and let nature and the FBI take their course while Haslam denies any guilt in the affair.
From the standpoint of unrequited professional sports, however, the Browns are not alone at Erie lakeside. Neither the Cleveland Cavaliers nor the Indians has ever won a championship in modern times.. If you add the records of the Cavaliers (24-58) last season and Indians (68-94) to the Browns (5-11) in 2012, sports fans suffered through 163 losses against 97 wins.
Tim Hagan, the former Cuyahoga County commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor, and loyal fan, once figured on an election night in which his candidate lost, that the miseries that befall his city must have something to do with the drinking water. Forever colorfully outspoken as a man who read Albert Camus, Hagan said some other things that night that would not be considered sportsman-like.
But in Cleveland, you can kindly understand the frustration.