On the day before the NFL Draft, the league has growing concerns that the Cleveland Browns have more serious issues than which players they will select. They may soon need a new owner.
In a talk with the media in New York on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put a positive spin on his meeting with Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, whose Pilot Flying J company is under federal investigation.
However, there are serious concerns among team and league officials that Haslam's problems might portend the need for a change in ownership. One NFL team executive told The Sports Xchange that Haslam should at least relinquish day-to-day control of the Browns during the investigation and that suggestion has been made to league officials.
At issue are allegations that Haslam was aware that Pilot Flying J was intentionally defrauding customers by shorting them on rebates, which, according to one company vice president, raked in $450,000 a month.
Goodell told reporters that the investigation came as a huge surprise to the NFL. He said the league was unaware of the FBI and IRS investigations of Pilot Flying J last year before Haslam purchased the Browns from Randy Lerner for more than $1 billion.
---Browns outside linebacker Quentin Groves, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent in March, was arrested for solicitation of a prostitute in a three-day sting in Ohio.
Groves allegedly responded to a sex-for-hire ad and agreed to payment before arriving at Homestead Guest Studios in Beachwood, Ohio. The police report indicates that Groves requested "full service" from an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute but was met by multiple officers when he reached the predetermined room.
--- The Green Bay Packers released running back Brandon Saine and linebacker D.J. Smith on Wednesday.
Saine appeared in 14 games for the team from 2011-12. He rushed for 69 yards on 18 carries and caught 10 passes for 69 yards as a rookie in 2011.
Smith played in 22 games with nine starts from 2011-12, posting 80 tackles (61 solo), two sacks, one interception in two seasons.
--- Before Goodell announces the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday night in New York, there will be a moment of silence.
"We will have a moment of reflection for both the victims in Boston and in Texas," Goodell said in reference to the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer plan explosion in west Texas last week. The NFL is beefing up security for the draft at Radio City Music Hall.
---Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan promised that the team would walk a cautious line when it comes to Robert Griffin III's rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery. Griffin was offensive rookie of the year last year while leading his team to the NFC playoffs where he injured his knee.
Despite Griffin's rapid recovery, Shanahan warned that the team will not rush him back into action despite some reports saying Griffin might be ready for the team's opener on Sept. 9 against Philadelphia.
--- New York Jets general manager John Idzik would not hesitate to trade down or consider the possibility of taking quarterback in the NFL Draft.
The first-year Jets GM is keeping his options open on the eve of the draft as he figures out how to fill holes on the roster. He says he has taken calls from teams interested in moving up on Thursday night in the first round.
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