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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Report: Pilot Flying J Pulling Out of ESPN Ad Deal Two Years Early Because of ESPN Story on Browns

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 1:04 PM

Last month, ESPN's Seth Wickersham published a deeply reported piece that took readers inside the top levels of the Cleveland Browns dating back a couple of regimes. It was perhaps the best look yet at how Jimmy and Dee Haslam have run the team, complete with the missteps, egregious missteps, the tensions, the fiefdom battles, the litany of bad front office choices, and, as we found out, the occasional accidental pornography.

While it was juicy, while it was, by definition, not flattering, it wasn't exactly a tear down. Haslam was a meddling owner. Haslam really had no idea what he was doing. Haslam made some god awful choices. But, save for the detail that Haslam ate hardboiled eggs and discarded the shells directly on the floor (monster!), there wasn't anything tawdry or untoward or particularly nasty included. The Haslam's ran a dysfunctional organization. That wasn't a surprise, we just had new details to flesh out the characterization.

Well, according to Sports Business Daily, that's not how Jimmy felt, as SBD reported today that Pilot Flying J is negotiating with ESPN to unwind a "low to mid-seven figure" annual ad deal two years early, reportedly specifically because of Wickersham's piece.

"Before the ESPN.com story ran on Jan. 24, Pilot officials publicly had been effusive in their praise of the ESPN arrangement and even used the college football platform to launch a new Welcome To ad campaign last year," SBD reported. "But sources said that the relationship was irretrievably damaged by a lengthy insider-style story on ESPN.com."

Who knows what pushed Jimmy over the edge (possibly the eggs, we hope), but it sure doesn't sound like Wickersham was wrong when he wrote that Haslam is a hands-on owner who makes decisions on a whim. 

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