WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam served as the keynote speaker at the 2013 Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s 25th annual banquet at La Centre banquet facility in Westlake on Tuesday evening.
The banquet was held in honor of 29 high-school scholar-athletes and 11 college postgraduate scholarship winners.
“Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life came through athletics, and particularly, football,” Haslam told the student-athletes. “The great thing about football is, it’s the ultimate team sport. No matter what position you play, if you don’t do your job, you’re going to let the team down. Candidly, that’s what life is. That’s what business is. You’ve got to count on everybody on your team, and whether you play right guard or quarterback, nose man or free safety, they’re all important.
“Those lessons you’ve learned on the field, whether in college or high school, are going to go a long way toward helping you in life.”
Following the banquet, Haslam held a brief session with the media, where he addressed the Browns’ offseason acquisitions during the 2013 NFL Draft.
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“I think we'll have a better football team this year, as I’ve said on several occasions. We’re going to do this the right way. It’s not going to happen overnight. You don’t go from winning 14 games in three years to winning 14 games in one year. but we will have a better team this year and we’ll be better in 2014.”
Haslam also discussed the federal investigation into rebate programs offered by his family’s business, Pilot Flying J.
“I apologize to the city of Cleveland, Northeastern Ohio, and all Browns fans because the last thing we ever wanted to do as a new owner was detract from football and the Browns and what a great football area this is,” Haslam said. “I apologize for that and feel badly about that. We’re very comfortable we’ll work through this situation.
“Pilot Flying J has been in business 54 years. It’s a family business, and that’s not how we act, not how we do things. I think it’s a company that’s had, really, as good a reputation as anybody in the business, and that reputation’s been tarnished. As I said on April 22, we’re going to begin to rebuild that reputation.”