Browns owner, reportedly $4 billion in debt, won't sell team

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is seen prior to a Browns, Philadelphia Eagles game in...

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is seen prior to a Browns, Philadelphia Eagles game in Cleveland, Ohio September 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

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, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

Despite being investigated by the FBI for fraud and reports that his company is $4 billion in debt, new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Monday that he will not sell the team.

"Absolutely not," Haslam told ESPN Cleveland. "We plan on owning the Browns for a long time."

Haslam's trucking company, Pilot Flying J, was recently investigated by the FBI for possible fraud. Haslam has denied any knowledge of the company's alleged questionable business dealings.

A dozen trucking companies sued Pilot Flying J and five former employees pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the FBI investigation.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is $4 billion in debt and has a "downgraded" credit rating.

Haslam has had to apologize to the other NFL owners and his control over the team has been questioned, but Haslam plans to hold on to the team.

However, he would not comment on the Wall Street Journal report. Instead, he focused on the positive.

"Since October, we put together a completely new front office, hired a new head coach with two really good coordinators, sold naming rights to the stadium, and went through free agency and the draft," Haslam said.

He also said the team is working on upgrading the team headquarters and FirstEnergy Stadium.

"We've spent $5 million remodeling (the team headquarters in) Berea," Haslam said. "And we're working on an upwards of $100 million remodeling of the stadium. We've been very committed to turning this franchise around."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that Haslam is "doing everything he's been asked" since the FBI raided Pilot Flying J.

Haslam bought the Browns from Randy Lerner last year for about $1 billion. He paid Lerner $700 million up front and owes $300 million by Oct. 16, 2016.


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