Two friends of Jimmy Haslam, III, say they're not surprised over his purchase of the Cleveland Browns Thursday.
"He's an avid sports fan and he's also an avid person as far as his personal fitness. His father played football here at the University of Tennessee, so he's got a real passion for athletics," said University of Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. Dr. Cheek has worked with the Haslam family for years over university advancement.
"(Haslam) is very engaged in what he does. He's a questioning person," Dr. Cheek added. "You sit down to meet with him and it's one question right after another."
The $1 billion+ deal was announced Thursday afternoon, after a day of talks about the news. According to WKYC-TV, the 58-year-old CEO of Pilot-Flying J's purchase is the fourth most lucrative team sale in sports history.
However, Haslam will have his hands full for the upcoming season. The Browns were 4-12 last year, the worst in the AFC North.
"Cleveland, get ready to compete," said another friend of Haslam, former UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl. "Get ready to roll up your sleeves and try to put a championship team together."
He expects Haslam to embrace Cleveland in the coming years -- after all, he has purchased a team that means so much for the Ohio town.
"It doesn't matter whether you're someone that's new in the company, young in the company -- what your role is -- (the Haslams) are hands-on in how they do everything. So therefore I know they're gonna go up to Cleveland and embrace that community," Pearl added.
Haslam is expected to speak out about the purchase Friday in Ohio. It's noted that while there will be a new owner of the Browns, team officials told WKYC-TV the franchise will not leave Cleveland.