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Blog: Cleveland Browns, Haslam caught in controversy

9:22 AM, Apr 19, 2013   |    comments
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Here are two examples of two separate sets of circumstances involving the same people and how they aren't necessarily connected.

Fact: Pilot Flying J's CEO Jimmy Haslam also owns the Cleveland Browns. Fact: Bombs went off at the Boston Marathon Monday and a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, outside Waco caught fire and exploded on Wednesday.

First, let's talk about Haslam.

On Monday, federal agents raided Pilot Flying J headquarters and say they are investigating a rebate fraud scheme that occurred with the knowledge of top executives, including Jimmy Haslam.

The investigation started about May 4, 2011, according to an affidavit. Pilot Flying J is a private company mostly owned by Haslam, his brother Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and other family members. It is the nation's No. 1 retailer of diesel fuel.

Late Thursday, the feds unsealed the search warrants and affidavits used in Monday's raid and filed them in court. The documents, a 120-page report and a 55-page affidavit (both of which I read completely), were run-of-the-mill.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, the 2013 Cleveland Browns schedule came out. No real surprises but most of the talk about the Browns Thursday night wasn't about the schedule but about Haslam, unfortunately.

That's too bad. It's almost like the Browns can't get a break. But on the bright side, it didn't unfold on draft day, which is coming up next week.

WKYC's Jimmy Donovan says what's happening at Pilot Flying J won't affect what goes on in Berea at Browns headquarters. I hope not.

Now, to show you that being involved in two separate incidents can be a coincidence......

Media outlets across the country reported Thursday about Boston Marathon runner Joe Berti. People keep asking Joe Berti Thursday if he feels unlucky.

A bomb exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon seconds after Berti crossed the finish line. He felt the explosion but was not injured. Two days later, he was in his home state of Texas when he saw a fertilizer plant explode near Waco.

"I was just like, 'I can't believe this!'" said Berti, who said he had never witnessed an explosion before. Then he thought: "I just want to get out of here and get away from all these explosions."

Berti flew home to Austin Tuesday from Boston. On Wednesday, he had a day-long meeting in Dallas, followed by a museum tour.

He was heading home on Interstate 35 and nearing Waco Wednesday night when he saw black smoke up ahead to his left. As he drove closer, he saw -- and felt -- his second explosion in two days.

So, I ask you, what are the chances that this could happen to one man? How could he be "involved" in two tragedies in three days across half the United States?

One last thought.

As I wrote in Wednesday's blog, Friday is the 20th anniversary of the end of the siege of David Koresh's cult church compound in Waco, Texas.

That siege began Feb. 28, 1993, when the followers exchanged gunfire with federal agents from the ATF and ended six weeks later on April 19 with the deaths of 82 men, women and children and four FBI agents.

The fiery images of the Koresh compound going up in flames came to mind while watching the West, Texas fertilizer plant near Waco explode in flames.

USAToday is reporting that 35 people -- including 10 first responders -- died in the massive plant explosion. The 10 included five volunteer firefighters, four emergency responders and an off-duty firefighter from Dallas who lived in West.

Just a sad week.


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