Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will return to his former role as the CEO of Pilot Flying J, the company announced Monday.
In August, Haslam struck a deal to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner for about $1 billion and then hired John Compton, the former president of PepsiCo, in September to run his family’s Knoxville, Tenn.-based, truck-stop empire while he shifted his focus to the NFL.
But Haslam has recaptured the reins of Pilot Flying J, and Compton will assume a new role as strategic adviser to travel- center business, the Browns and the Haslam family.
“The announcement is not going to have any impact on the operations of the Browns nor will it affect Jimmy’s involvement with the team,” Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said. “[Compton has] strong expertise in branding and marketing, and certainly if there’s ever an opportunity to pick his brain, we will. But his role will be strictly as an adviser.”
Haslam told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he missed being CEO of Pilot Flying J.
“This is about me realizing my first love is running Pilot Flying J and wanting to return to that job,” Haslam told the News Sentinel. … “It’s not at all about John [Compton]. It’s more about Jimmy having a change of heart in terms of what he wanted to do. … I realize people will look at it in different ways, but that’s the reality.”
In a news release, Haslam pointed out he hired CEO Joe Banner to run the Browns, a move he announced the same day he was unanimously approved as owner in October. Haslam and Banner hired Rob Chudzinski as coach on Jan. 10 and Mike Lombardi as vice president of player personnel on Jan. 18.
Still, Haslam vowed to be involved with the Browns and the Cleveland area as he delivered a speech Thursday during the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 99th annual dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
The Cleveland Clinic named Haslam to its board of directors last week.
“We’re going to be involved in Northeastern Ohio,” he said. “Whether it’s involved in the United Way of Cleveland, whether it’s involved in education, whether it’s attending events like this, we’re going to be involved. We’ve obviously made a substantial investment in the Browns. We’re going to be here, and be here a lot. We feel a responsibility to take part in events like this and make this an even better place to live, and you have our commitment that we’ll do that.”
Free agents to watch
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported many in the Steelers organization believe that Wallace will end up with the Browns.
La Canfora also reported the Browns could make a play for Baltimore Ravens rush linebacker Paul Kruger, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month.
Free agency will begin at 4 p.m. March 12. Beginning March 9, teams are permitted to enter contract negotiations with agents of players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
On the block?
The Minnesota Vikings will try to trade slot receiver Percy Harvin this offseason, News Radio 830 WCCO reported. According to the report, Harvin left the Vikings this past season and was placed on injured reserve after he directed a tirade toward coach Leslie Frazier. NFL.com ranked the following teams, in order, as the most logical landing spots for Harvin: New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Browns.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.