Haslam Settles with Trucking Companies; What’s Next?
Jan 11, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III talks during a press conference at the team
According to reporters and sources who actually delve into reporting and doing research, Jimmy Haslam has reached a settlement with the 4,000 trucking companies that were suing him. This is good news and works to get the Browns off of the front page for all the wrong reasons, but he still has the potentially more volatile situation with the government prosecution going forward.
While the players are completely unaffected other than maybe some casual conversation about it, until a check bounces, it is business as usual in Berea. They are focusing on getting ready for training camp and preparing for the season, which is what they should be doing. Nevertheless, Haslam obviously does not want to be the center of attention for this but he also wants the team to be able to be on the front page for the right reasons and building a team. This is one less issue for there to be next to articles discussing what is going on in training camp. The fact that this is what it took for Haslam to get this suit sorted out and this quickly gives hope that the Browns and the fan base could be excused from further embarrassment by this whole issue. The NFL is also going to be happy as this would help them avoid significant embarrassment as well trying to figure out a way around the potential pitfalls that would come with an extended lawsuit in court.
The question that remains to be answered is if this was the bigger issue that he has to face. Whether the government was saber rattling for the sake of trying to get Haslam to deal or if they are serious about pushing forward with a case is still left to be decided. The announcement of a grand jury proceeding does not sound good but was hardly a surprise. With a deal hammered out with the trucking companies to get everything square, the government may not be as concerned with going after Haslam. Still, if there is evidence and testimony that implicates Haslam in all of this, perhaps the government should continue pursuing the case.
From a team standpoint and as far as the product on the field, this whole situation has no impact at all. In terms of the large picture process and looking ahead in years, it could still be a potential problem. Still, the faster it gets resolved, the faster an entire fan base can stop even considering it to be a potential problem and can focus entirely on whether Brandon Weeden is the franchise quarterback, if the front seven has taken the necessary steps to go from a promising unit to a great one and how difficult it will be for Rob Chudzinski to be worse than Pat Shurmur. This is a small victory for the Browns and Haslam, but it remains to be seen if he has resolved the issue or if he has gone from the frying pan into the fire with the government prosecution. It could get a lot uglier before this ultimately ends, but this does represent a step in the right direction for Haslam and the Browns.