Haslam releases statement on his Browns buy

7:58 PM, Aug 2, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- He's the billionaire buyer of the Cleveland Browns, but who is Jimmy Haslam III? For the first time, we're hearing from the man himself.

He released a statement Thursday evening.

"This is a very exciting time for my family and me," said Haslam. "To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL - something all Browns fans want and deserve. We plan to bring relentless dedication and hard work to every aspect of this organization, and we look forward to getting to know this team and community as quickly as possible. Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process."

Haslam is expected to address the media at 1 p.m. Friday from the Browns' training facility in Berea.

Channel 3's Sara Shookman talked to people in Knoxville who say Jimmy Haslam, 58, is true to his word.

"He is a passionate man whenever he takes on a new endeavor such as this. He's very inquisitive, he's very thoughtful. He's known to surround himself by the very best," said Robin Wilhoit with WBIR-TV, WKYC's sister station in his hometown, Knoxville, Tenn.

It's worked for him as the CEO and President of Pilot Flying J Corporation, the travel center company his family founded. It's now the nation's largest retail operator of travel centers and truck stops.

He told WBIR in 2009 about his ownership interest.

"You know, it's just like anything, when you start to know the people...and they are good people and they've worked hard and they've been successful at this, you just naturally take an interest to it," said Haslam.

He's already been a member of sport's most exclusive club as a minority owner in the Steelers. Haslam will have to trade in those terrible towels and sell his stake before NFL owners vote to approve this sale.

That's all expected to take place by October.

"Jimmy Haslam just loves sports in general. I think you can expect to see a lot of Jimmy Haslam in Cleveland as the Browns start their season," said Wilhoit.

Haslam and his wife, Susan "Dee" Bagwell Haslam, have three adult children, Jim, Whitney and Cynthia.

"He is a person who gives 100 percent. He's very involved. He's not hands off. He's very much hands on. And will take a very active role," said Wilhoit.

"He'll be very engaged in the state and the community," said University of Tennessee Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Cheek, who is a close friend of Haslam's.

"He'll be very involved with the management of the team. He'll be very passionate about the team. He aspires to excellence in every single thing he does, so he will expect the team to do very well."


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