Browns' Jimmy Haslam may step down during ongoing FBI investigation, according to report

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

Haslam continues to be investigated by the FBI and may need to remove himself from responsibility of the team until the situation ends.

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may be asked to step aside while his Pilot Flying J company undergoes a federal investigation for a fraud scheme, a source tells ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi.

An FBI affidavit revealed that Haslam had knowledge of Pilot employees withholding fuel rebates and discounts from truck stop customers in order to boost profits. The source tells Tony Grossi that the NFL may ask Haslam to remove himself from operational control of the Browns:

"They can force him, probably, to transfer his interests to another entity within the family, where he may still have equity holdings but absolutely no involvement in operations," the source said. "They can remove him from having front-and-center involvement."

Haslam is currently at the Browns' training facilities preparing for the NFL Draft. He has denied involvement in the scheme and pledged to cooperate with the investigation. The source believes that the NFL could suspend him until the investigation is complete if he declines to step down.

There is precedent here. Paul Tagliabue suspended former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. for the entire 1999 season and fined him $1 million for his involvement in an extortion plot. He later sold the team to his sister.

The league has declined to comment at this moment.

UPDATE: The NFL has since issued a statement that it has no plans to ask Haslam to step away from the Browns during the investigation.

More from SB Nation:

NFL draft stock report: Who's rising or falling?

An interview with an NFL agent

2013 NFL season schedule released

Broncos likely to host Ravens in Week 1

NFL mock draft: Trades shake up first round

The best NFL draft picks of the century

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.