by Fitzgerald Cecilio
Despite the financial and legal debacles he's facing, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that he has no plan to sell the team.
"Absolutely not," Haslam told ESPNCleveland.com when asked if he would sell the Browns. "We plan on owning the Browns for a long time."
He also allayed fears by Browns fans regarding the franchise's direction, saying there's "absolutely zero to worry about."
Pilot Flying J, a joint venture of which Haslam is the chairman and CEO, is being investigated by the FBI for rebate fraud and some of the company's executives have already pleaded guilty.
It was also reported that Pilot Flying J is buried in $4 billion in debt and its credit rating has been downgraded by the S&P, which called the financial risk "significant."
A league source said that Haslam "has been working hand-in-glove" with the NFL since the FBI began its investigation.
"He is taking direction and he is taking advice from the NFL," the source said. "They even have a plan in place in the event there is an indictment of Haslam to maintain ownership of the Browns during the legal process."
According to Forbes, Pilot Flying J is one of the nation's largest private companies, totaling $29 billion in sales with 20,000 employees and 500 truck stops in the U.S. and Canada. Haslam's family owns a 59 percent stake in the company, and he himself owns 35 percent of that stock.
The 59-year-old Haslam bought the Browns in August of 2012 for a reported $1 billion. He currently owns 70 percent of the Cleveland franchise while former majority owner Randy Lerner retained 30 percent.