Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/24/13
Browns CEO Joe Banner insisted Wednesday that the federal investigation into practices at owner Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J truck stop business is not affecting the football operation. Banner tried to reassure fans that the probe into rebate fraud will not force Haslam to sell the team. “I don’t know what we can say beyond what we’ve said.” Banner said. “I understand why that doesn’t give everybody total peace of mind. We’re operating the team exactly as we would whether this would have happened or not. Jimmy’s here and incredibly supportive and a huge asset to us. 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. “But I understand why until that actually happens and this thing plays itself out it’s a legitimate question for people to continue asking.” Banner said he didn’t see any scenario where the Browns would be sold. “I don’t see that scenario but you know ..." Banner said. Banner said he has talked with Haslam privately and Haslam was “extremely open” with him. “I know him. I have a lot of confidence in him. I wouldn’t say I needed to be reassured” Banner said. Pilot Flying J’s headquarters in Knoxville was raided on April 15 and an affidavit released later in the investigation asserted that Haslam had knowledge of the fraudulent rebate scheme which reportedly dates back to 2005. Asked if there was a sense of uncertainty in the building about the future Banner said "I think when they first started people had questions about it. But fairly quickly as they got answered they felt comfortable they know me they know Jimmy and I think they trust what we’ve told them and they were right back focused on what they were doing.” Banner said it was “a surprise” to him when Pilot Flying J was raided.
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