U.S. District Judge James M. Moody approved a $84.9 million settlement in the Pilot Flying J fuel rebate scandal in a Little Rock, Arkansas courtroom Monday.
BEREA, Ohio - Cleveland Browns owner and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam apologized for the off-the-field attention his company has brought the team.
Pilot Flying J is accused of rebate fraud following an April 15 raid at its headquarters. Several former employees have pleaded guilty and about two dozen trucking companies have filed class-action lawsuits.
Thursday was the first day of Browns training camp.
"I apologize for the negative attention that this has brought to Cleveland, the Browns and the NFL. And I mean that sincerely," Haslam said. "I'll be honest. I'm going to stay very focused on two things. One, making sure we correct the activities at Pilot Flying J that lead to some of the accusations that have been made. But secondly and more importantly, to do the things we talk to in Cleveland."
"We've assembled a really good team here," Haslam said. "And I think if you ask people around the building, there's no distraction. I don't think anybody senses distraction here."
When asked about money issues concerning the team, Haslam made it clear the federal investigation will have not effect of the Browns.
"There is absolutely no worry about cash flow. And I think if there was, and I mentioned this early, we wouldn't be doing the things in Berea, we wouldn't have signed the free agents, we wouldn't be talking about doing the things we are at the stadium."
Haslam did not address players on Thursday, adding that's head coach Rob Chudzinski's job.
"I said this on August 3, we're committed to owning the Browns for a long period of time. I understand in Cleveland there's a great deal of uncertainty because of past history, but the fans should not worry. Our family's going to own this asset for a long, long time. And we're excited. And I'll say this, we feel a privilege, not just to own an NFL franchise, but to own the Cleveland Browns."
Haslam said his staff is focused on the long-term vision, which is winning games and creating a better fan experience.
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