Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam thanks sponsors for support

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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, under federal investigation for fraud at his truck-stop chain, spoke to some of the team’s sponsors at a party shortly before the NFL Draft.

Haslam, who bought the Browns from Randy Lerner in October, addressed more than 100 party-goers inside a fieldhouse at the team’s training facility.

Haslam thanked them for their support, but he did not mention the scandal that has rocked Pilot Flying J, his family’s company based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Last week, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided Pilot’s headquarters as part of a probe into claims of fuel rebate fraud.

COVER BOY: Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders beat out reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, of the Minnesota Vikings, to land the coveted cover of “Madden NFL 25.”

The vote came down to perhaps the most elusive running back in NFL history against the powerful and speedy Peterson.

Sanders won by garnering 58 percent of the more than 700,000 votes cast on the final matchup. There were 40 million votes tallied throughout the entire competition.

“Congrats to my guy Barry Sanders for winning the 2013 Madden Cover! Any other guy to take me down... it would’ve been a problem! Salute,” Peterson wrote on Twitter.

This year marks the 25th edition of the ultra-popular video game.

Sanders’ march to the cover in voting included wins over newly retired Ray Lewis and fellow Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

The victory also made it back-to-back Detroit Lions on the cover after wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the former Georgia Tech standout, won last year.

Johnson snapped the stigma of the “Madden Curse” in 2012, breaking Rice’s NFL single-season receiving yards mark.

OBITUARY: Former Detroit Lions defensive end Sam Williams, who spent his final two season with the Atlanta Falcons, has died at age 82.

Sam Williams says his father whose name he shares died Thursday following an illness at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Mich.

His father played in Detroit from 1960 to 1965 after a year with the Los Angeles Rams. He played his final two NFL seasons in Atlanta.

Williams played on a Lions defensive line that included Alex Karras, Roger Brown and Darris McCord.


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