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N.Y. Jets Owner Leon Hess was asked after Sunday's loss if he has thought about selling the team. Hess: "Not at all. This is one of the few pleasures I get out of life, win or lose" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/21). Last night, the Jets were the butt of a Jay Leno joke. Leno was relating Beatles' songs to events or people of today. After "I'm a loser," a picture of a Jets helmet was flashed ("Tonight," NBC, 11/20)....Molson Cos. Ltd., owners of the Canadiens, the Montreal Forum and Molstar Communications, has replaced Bruce Pope as brewery president, with John Barnett, the brewer's top U.S. exec. The GLOBE & MAIL's Marina Strauss reports, "The shuffle was seen by some industry observers as a possible prelude to a larger shakeup at both the brewer and parent Molson Cos." (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/21)....ESPN reported the agent for Patriots CB Maurice Hurst would file a grievance against the team for releasing his client. Doug Sunseri contends the team should not be allowed to release Hurst because he was injured. He further contends that, at the request of the team, Hurst had been playing the entire season with a bulging disc in his neck ("SportsCenter," 11/21)....While Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley is willing to build an NFL stadium near Dodger Stadium and Disney would like to do some "venture" with the NFL, John Clayton of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE writes, "Los Angeles is nothing like Baltimore and Nashville." Noting the lack of stadium construction in L.A., Clayton writes, "If you don't sell PSLs, you don't get the franchise." Until such a campaign is in place, no team, including the Seahawks, will move there (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 11/20)....Average attendance for the Blues is down 2,253 from last season (ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH, 11/19)....Tom Enlund writes that the Bucks' payroll is $19.5M this season, significantly below the NBA's $23M salary cap (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 11/18).....For the fourth time since '91, the Braves have announced they will raise ticket prices for next season (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/18)....The Panthers will edge the Lightning by just 200 miles as the NHL's most traveled team. Both teams are in the 51,000-mile range. The Panthers' travel budget is about $1M this year (MIAMI HERALD, 11/20)....Last night was the Blazers' first non-sellout since April '77. The team has moved from the 12,800-seat Memorial Coliseum into the 21,300-seat Rose Garden (L.A. TIMES, 11/21).
A committee studying the need for new sports venues in Houston "is not likely to put together a last-ditch effort to keep the Houston Oilers in town," according to group chairman Pete Coneway. This morning's HOUSTON CHRONICLE reports that Coneway said the group, appointed by Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, "is looking at longer-term issues than the Oilers." Coneway, a managing partner at Goldman Sachs: "We were not formed to negotiate with [Oilers Owner] Bud Adams." Meanwhile, the Nashville Metro Council should approve the non-binding contract today (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/21). ON THE TENNESSEE TRAIL: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Helyar examines the Oilers' move, writing, it shows "how differently two cities at different points in their life cycles can value a sports team." Agent Leigh Steinberg says the "deck is stacked against the more mature cities that have long hosted and supported NFL teams." Steinberg: "This process is pitting major urban areas with overwhelming budget constraints against smaller entrepreneurial cities willing to pay fabulous sums for the sake of their economic climate. The net effect of all this is to downsize the NFL." Gaylord Entertainment COO Richard Evans, head of the Nashville Sports Council, is seen along with Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen as driving the city's sports cause. Evans: "We're out to make the NHL and NBA aware that we're dead serious about bringing a sports team to Nashville." In fact, Oilers Exec VP Mike McClure said it was Nashville's wooing of the Devils that "caught [his] eye" in seeking a new home for the Oilers. Vanderbilt Law's John Costonis: "Nashville can't be Atlanta, but it would sure like to be on par with Charlotte" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/21).
Lawyers for the city of Cleveland argued yesterday that the Browns are "legally obligated to remain in town through 1998," according to this morning's Baltimore SUN. In opening statements before Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kenneth Callahan, the city displayed "poster-size blowups" of the team's Cleveland Stadium lease. But Browns attorney Dennis Kelly argued the lease was with the Art Modell-owned Cleveland Stadium Corp., not the city. The SUN's Jon Morgan notes the case "could delay but not stop the Browns' intended move" (Baltimore SUN, 11/21). Robert Weber, another attorney representing the Browns, said even if the team is forced to play in Cleveland, they will leave. Weber: "What's done is done" (USA TODAY, 11/21). The judge extended his order barring the Browns from leaving until the end of the hearing (WASHINGTON POST, 11/21). BALTIMORE'S CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: "Thousands" of fans of the CFL Champion Stallions gathered at Baltimore's Inner Harbor yesterday to greet the team. Stallions Owner Jim Speros was cheered when he said, "We're Baltimore's team, and we want to be Baltimore's team" (Drake Whitam, Baltimore SUN, 11/21). But a SUN editorial previewing today's meeting between Speros and MD Gov. Parris Glendening, refers to the "gypsy-like" CFL. The SUN states: "The CFL Stallions represented Baltimore well, but given the business realities of professional sports these days, it may be time to seek greener pastures" (Baltimore SUN, 11/21).