You didn’t really think that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam could buy the team and not be subjected to some sort of public embarrassment, did you?
On Monday, Pilot Flying J, the family business and company he left only to return to once again, was locked down by the FBI. Haslam says that the federal investigation – which includes the IRS – revolves around a rebate system the company offers. A number of trucking company customers allege that their rebates were never paid, thus resulting in the raid on the company’s headquarters.
Here’s how the rebate system works:
If a trucking company buys 50,000 gallons of gas from Pilot Flying J, it receives so much of a rebate. If it buys 100,000 gallons, it would receive another amount.
At this point, not much else is known, but when the FBI wants to take a look at your business, it’s never a good sign. With four search warrants, agents seized a variety of documents and information as part of their ongoing investigation.
It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the idea that a raid would be executed on the company just because a few customers were displeased. This has to be part of something larger, though it’s not exactly worth speculating at this point.
What it does do, however, is put yet another bizarre mark on the Cleveland Browns organization. The team never seems to stray too far from controversy and absurdity, and the raid on Haslam’s business only adds to the long and storied tradition of the Browns just being goofy in every which way.
How else can you describe it? Whether it’s on the field or off, the Browns simply can’t escape making headlines for the wrong reasons. One hopes nothing extreme happens to Haslam or Pilot Flying J, but it’s already a distraction, so just imagine what will happen if this investigation uncovers anything else.
Welcome to Cleveland, Mr. Haslam. You now officially fit in.