The next owner of the Cleveland Browns is leaving his past football allegiance behind.
"I've worn a Steelers watch for the last four years," Tennessee billionaire Jimmy Haslam told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Friday. "I've taken off all of my black and gold and I'm putting on my orange and brown."
Haslam, who will take ownership of the team pending the approval of three-quarters of NFL owners, has been a minority investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2008. He is selling his interest in the Steelers to complete the Browns deal.
"I had a conversation with (Steelers owner) Art Rooney today and we've become good friends," Haslam said. "The last thing he said was, 'I'm going to have to learn to hate you on Sundays.'"
Haslam arrived in Cleveland Thursday night to watch the Browns practice on Friday, then conduct a news conference at 1 p.m. ET. He stressed that his main message will be to reassure a fan base already stung by one franchise upheaval.
"We're not moving the Cleveland Browns," Haslam said. "To own a team with a such a rich tradition and history is a dream come true. Randy (current owner Randy Lerner) had four things he wanted and I won't share all of them, but No. 1 was we keep them in Cleveland. Why would we move? I've been to three games there on the other side of the field and I've seen the intensity and the enthusiasm. That thought never, ever entered our minds."
The truck-stop magnate, whose Pilot Flying J business is worth a reported $3 billion, said he won't be going anywhere, either.
"We've owned our family business for 53 years. There are some people that come into a franchise for three years and sell it. That's not us. Our family is in this for the long, long run."