REVENGE? Pilot Flying J Ends Multi-Million Dollar ESPN Agreement After Criticism Of Haslams
Knoxville, Tennessee – Truck stop giant Pilot Flying J has pulled its lucrative sponsorship agreement with ESPN, according to a new report by Sports Business Daily.
The termination of the lucrative reportedly 4-year, 7-figure advertising agreement with ESPN and it’s affiliate SEC Network, comes on the heels of ESPN publishing a wide-ranging and revealing investigative look inside the culture of the Cleveland Browns. Billionaire Jimmy Haslam owns the Cleveland Browns, along with his wife Dee Haslam. He is also the CEO and part owner of the mega truck stop chain.
The ESPN article published on January 24th entitled, “The Clash of the Cleveland Browns: How Hue Jackson, Jimmy Haslam and Baker Mayfield collided,” penned by staff writer Seth Wickersham, takes a deep and extensive dive into the executive culture of the Cleveland Browns organization. The picture it paints among the team’s executives is one of scattershot decision-making, dysfunction, toxicity and internal power struggles.
It’s no secret the Cleveland Browns have been a punch line among fans and inside NFL executives circles since even before the Haslam’s purchased the team in 2012 for $1 billion. However, the futility and dysfunction of the Browns since that time has arguably been the worst of any professional sports franchise anywhere in the world.
Wickersham interviewed more than 20 current and former Cleveland Browns executives, some who spoke on the condition of anonymity, to reveal the inner workings of what has led to the run of historic futility. Wickersham uncovers quite a few head-scratching decisions made by the Haslams.
At one point, Wickersham writes of Jimmy, “Haslam tightly gripped every aspect of the Cleveland organization, often creating as much chaos as he inherited.” The “chaos” is not only evidenced in the team’s losing record during Haslam’s tenure, but also in the fact the franchise is now on its sixth head coach in seven years.
In fact, according to the report, both Jimmy and Dee Haslam have admitted to personnel on numerous occasions that they are “still learning” and aren’t sure what they are doing. Further, the report quotes a source close to Dee Haslam who indicated Dee once confided they (Haslams) didn’t know what they where getting into and if they could go back and do it again they would not buy the football franchise.
Neither ESPN nor Pilot Flying J representatives have yet commented on the termination negotiations.