What many Browns fans have been thinking for nearly a month, since the story first broke in mid-April that team owner Jimmy Haslam's truck stop chain was under federal investigation regarding allegations of widespread rebate fraud, is now making its rounds throughout the NFL.
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports reported several team officials fear that the impending lawsuits, which Haslam is working to settle as we speak, could cost him to the point that he could no longer afford to keep the team, or at the very least keep the team running.
Several team officials are saying they believe it may be extremely difficult for Haslam to keep the Browns, because he may be ensnared by a myriad of lawsuits and legal actions that could drain his finances and prevent him from keeping the club.
"This is more worrisome than people know," said one team official who has familiarized himself with Haslam's situation.
Whether he directly loses the finances or merely the fear and bad press lead the league into forcing him out, Haslam's chances of owning the team in the not-so-distant future appear more grim today than they did yesterday. Freeman continues:
NFL sources say they are concerned about the long-term viability of the Browns under Haslam's control and believe it may be only a matter of time before Haslam is forced to sell the Browns.
The reason: lawsuits. Several have already been filed. If Haslam can win them, then his future as Browns owner is more on solid footing. But if there are massive financial settlements or legal losses, it would prove problematic for Haslam.
This news comes just a day after Haslam publicly apologized to fans for the distraction created by the investigation.
Do you think now that NFL team officials share many of the same concerns regarding the situation that there's more validity to the fears others have been suggesting for a while now?