The Cleveland Browns have spent much of their recent history likely feeling as if they have been owned by the Steelers, who have won 22 of the past 24 meetings.
Now, they might be bought by a member of the Steelers ownership group who is a self-described ardent Steelers fan.
Jimmy Haslam III, the son of a truck-stop magnate whose family is worth $3 billion, is considering purchasing the Browns from owner Randy Lerner -- a move that likely would force Haslam to divest his interest in the Steelers.
Haslam is one of 10 minority owners who purchased stock from members of the Rooney family when the team reorganized its ownership structure in 2009. His percentage in the team is believed to be between 5 and 8 percent. At the time of his purchase, Haslam said, "I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan!"
Haslam comes from a powerful Tennessee family that includes his father, James II, who founded Pilot Flying J, the biggest operator of travel centers in North America and the 11th-largest private company in the U.S.
Jimmy, the oldest son, has run the business for years as CEO and president. It brought in $17.8 billion in revenues in '11.
His brother, Bill, is the former mayor of Knoxville who is now governor of Tennessee.
Lerner issued a statement Friday that was posted on the team's website, confirming Haslam's interest:
"In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I've been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns. We are currently in negotiations, and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private.
"Given that any transaction would require [l]eague approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary."
Haslam could not be reached for comment.