NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters he met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Tuesday about the federal investigation into the Tennessee billionaire’s family business, Pilot Flying J.
As part of the league's pre-draft festivities, Goodell addressed the media today during an NFL Play 60 youth football clinic in New York. Goodell was asked if he's concerned about the investigation involving Haslam.
"Well, of course, when you have that type of thing, but I’ve spoken with Jimmy several times and met with him," Goodell said. "Jimmy is doing everything he’s asked. He’s cooperating. He wants to make sure that he is doing all of the right things in that regard and he has assured us that he is going to."
Haslam, through a spokesperson, said, "It was a good meeting, but we cannot expand beyond the commissioner's comments."
The FBI and Internal Revenue Service raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J April 15 in Knoxville, Tenn. In an affidavit unsealed last week, the FBI accuses Pilot Flying J of running a fraud scheme to keep millions of dollars owed to trucking companies as gas rebates. Court documents allege Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J, knew about the fraud.
Goodell said the league was not aware of the investigation ahead of time. NFL owners unanimously approved Haslam's $1 billion purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner on Oct. 16.
"It’s an investigation and it was held very tightly by the FBI and the authorities," Goodell said. "They didn’t share this information with us and they shouldn’t. That’s something that is their prerogative."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said last week the league had no plans to ask Haslam to relinquish operational control of the Browns during the investigation. Haslam plans to be at the Browns' headquarters during the NFL Draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday.
Since the raid, Haslam has maintained his innocence. He announced five steps Monday that Pilot Flying J is taking in an attempt to address the issues raised in the investigation, including placing several members of its diesel fuel sales team on administrative leave.