KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Browns Backers in Tennessee were surprised learn about the ongoing FBI investigation at Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, but aren't concerned the probe will have any impact on CEO and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
For more than 10 years, 50 members of the Smoky Mountain Browns Backers have been meeting at Bailey's Sports Grille to cheer the Browns to victory. Now they say they believe it's their duty to support Haslam and Flying J during the investigation that started on Monday.
More that 30 FBI and IRS agents placed Flying J headquarters on lock down, searching for information related to allegations that it failed to pay rebates to a small number of its trucking company customers.
"It's not going to hurt the Browns or Haslam at all," said Knoxville Browns Backer Gary Thomas. "The investigation was probably started by a Steelers fan."
Haslam spoke to the media on Tuesday, and assured reporters and his 30,000 employees that he believes there is no wrong doing. Haslam told reporters he doesn't understand why the IRS would be involved.
"It was a little shocking," said Knoxville Browns Backer Gary Guess. "I'm sure it will blow over. I'm not too concerned about it. Hang in there, Jimmy, you'll get it done."
Haslam confirmed Flying J is conducting its own internal audit and is cooperating fully with an investigation that could take months to complete.
Meanwhile, Knoxsville Browns Backers are enthusiastic about the Browns prospects in the NFL Draft next week.
"We're all excited about the draft and the future," said Knoxville Browns Backer Rex Richardson. "I'm looking for the Browns to get better, but then again, we say that every year."