An unflattering story about the Cleveland Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam published by ESPN.com has prompted Pilot Flying J to end an advertising and sponsorship deal with the network, according to Sports Business Daily.
Writer Seth Wickersham reported that Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J, “tightly gripped every aspect of the Cleveland organization, often creating as much chaos as he inherited.”
The story, published Jan. 24, was headlined: “The Clash of the Cleveland Browns: How Hue Jackson, Jimmy Haslam and Baker Mayfield collided.” It provided an in-depth exploration of the Browns’ 7-8-1 season in 2018, including Haslam’s role in the mid-season coaching change and firing of Jackson.
ESPN told USA TODAY Sports in an email that the network had no comment on the report. Messages left with Pilot Flying J and the Browns were not immediately returned.
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Pilot Flying J was two years into a four-year, multimillion-dollar deal that included significant advertising in college football and a sponsorship deal that made Pilot Flying J the SEC’s official travel center. The SBD story said ESPN and Pilot Flying J are still negotiating an end to their agreement.