Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam apologized to fellow owners during their spring meetings this week in Boston for any unwanted attention a federal investigation into his company has brought to the franchise and the NFL less than a year after he purchased the team.
Haslam's five-minute talk with fellow owners was unscheduled. He asked commissioner Roger Goodell for permission to explain the probe of Pilot Flying J, his family business, and the steps being taken to handle the situation.
"I thought it was important," Haslam told USA Today. "We're partners in the NFL. I wanted to address them face to face."
His candor apparently left a good impression with fellow owners.
"Personally, hearing Mr. Haslam explain his full situation, I was very touched by it," New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said. "The complexity of the situation, I don't fully understand. But he was open. I admire him for taking a very proactive position.
"He is the new kid in town in terms of NFL ownership. And to sort of deal with an issue like this in the first quarter is impressive."
Haslam's Flying J headquarters was raided in April as part of a federal fraud investigation, but Haslam has continued to say the company did nothing wrong, that he had no prior knowledge of any alleged improprieties and that steps are being taken determine what happened.
"I know he feels a sense of embarrassment," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "He said they're going to do everything they can to get it under control and put it behind them, and that he felt bad for the attention that it brought to the Cleveland franchise and the NFL, and he was going to make it right."