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Browns for sale: Lerner releases statement

11:03 AM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns are for sale. Owner Randy Lerner released a statement this morning confirming the team is in talks with Jimmy Haslam. Browns sources tell Channel 3 News these talks are for ownership of the team.

Below is the full text of Lerner's statement:

"In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I've been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns. We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary."

James 'Jimmy' Haslam III, 58, has been the CEO and President of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers since September 2001. His father, James Haslam Jr. founded the company in 1958. The company is the 11th largest private company in the U.S. and is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Photos: Browns ownership through the years

Jimmy Haslam took his mother's seat on the Pilot board in 1974, before he graduated from the University of Tennessee. He began working at the company full time in August 1976.

Haslam became a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.

In a investor profile posted in 2010 on Steelers.com, Haslam describes himself as originally a Dallas Cowboys fan and then an Indianapolis Colts fan. When asked "Are you a Steelers fan now, or is your relationship with the team more about business?" He answered, "I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan!"

He and his wife, Dee, have donated more than $10 million to the University of Tennessee Knoxville for university programs, professorships and scholarships.

His father, James Haslam Jr., had been a starting tackle for the University of Tennessee football team, graduating in 1952. The field inside the university's Neyland Stadium is known as Haslam Field.

His brother is Bill Haslam is the current governor of Tennessee.

Forbes lists the Browns as the 30th most valuable team in professional sports. The team is valued at $977 million.

Randy Lerner has owned the team since October 2002, when he inherited the franchise from his late father Al Lerner.

Stay with wkyc.com for more on this story as it unfolds.

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