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NFL LEADERSHIP STILL REELING FROM "PSYCHOLOGICAL JOLT"
Published November 9, 1995
NFL owners, closing their annual fall meetings in Dallas yesterday, were a "solemn group," writes Jody Goldstein of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The owners were still "numb" from the problems facing the league, with Browns Owner Art Modell's exodus from Cleveland topping the list. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: "This is more than just a public-relations jolt. It's a deep psychological jolt to the fans of the NFL" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/9). The move is raising "painful questions" about the NFL's "sometimes conflicting obligations to fans and profits" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 11/9). In Washington, Leonard Shapiro reports a number of owners said, "jolt or no jolt, they will have a difficult time voting against the Baltimore move, whether they like it or not" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/9). In Chicago, Don Pierson writes, "For a sport that boasts it is the best and most popular of all, the NFL suddenly finds itself on dangerously shifting sands." But Tagliabue disputed the notion the league is in "chaos." Tagliabue: "We have a tendency to look at life through rose-colored glasses" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/9). ROONEY LIKELY TO VOTE "NO": Steelers President Dan Rooney is seen as likely to vote against the move. Rooney: "Somebody's always going to be at the bottom of the (revenue) ladder, but the answer can't be just to pick up and move" (Bart Hubbuch, Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 11/9). MARA, JONES TO VOTE YES: Giants co-owner Wellington Mara: "[Modell] comes as close to fulfilling our rules and by-laws as the Rams did last year" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/9). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones also said he would approve. Jones: "I'm convinced after listening to Art Modell that he had lost his economic viability" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/9). Jones: "If we allow the clubs to do their own marketing and if they entrench and engage their community to get involved there, there would be less need to move." ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reports one owner said, "I don't see us voting no and walking into another lawsuit" ("SportsCenter," 11/8). COOKE SOUNDS OFF: Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke: "What we are facing is the disillusion of the long and proudly held stability of the National Football League. It is one of the crown jewels of professional sports ... And it is being tarnished by these vagabond moves. I deplore it tremendously" (Dave Sell, WASHINGTON POST, 11/9). CLEVELAND PUTS IN ITS BID: City and county officials formally delivered their $175M stadium renovation proposal to the Browns, although talks at the owners' meetings centered around Cleveland attracting another franchise. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones: "In my view, we'll see NFL football in Cleveland in the near term." Cleveland's package includes financing from a $128M bond issue (up from $111M); no rent or taxes from a team; the team would keeps all stadium, premium seating, advertising and concession revenues; a $19M reimbursement for renovations; a corporate commitment for nearly $8M in annual revenue from premium seats. While not likely to keep the Browns, the package could attract interest from several teams, including the Bengals, Bucs, Cardinals and Seahawks (Bart Hubbuch, Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 11/9). Asked who might relocate to Cleveland, Jones said, "I don't know which team. Wait a minute. I see it -- it's Al Davis" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/9). In Cleveland, the Ohio Lottery joined Revco in pulling its advertising with the Browns (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/9). ALL QUIET ON THE SOUTHWESTERN FRONT: NFL owners ended their meeting "without much discussion" on Jones' $750M antitrust lawsuit against the league (N.Y. TIMES, 11/9). USA TODAY header: "NFL, Jones border on conciliatory" (USA TODAY, 11/9). Jones did declare "unacceptable" a proposed compromise from the league that would charge $411,000 more for four seasons against the Cowboys' salary cap for Deion Sanders' contract (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/9). EXPANSION ON HOLD: Tagliabue said any league expansion is unlikely until 2000. In Toronto, Gary Picknell writes their "window of opportunity ... has apparently been slammed shut until the next century" (TORONTO SUN, 11/9). SUPER BOWL TICKET PRICES: The NFL has gone to a three- tiered ticket policy for the Super Bowl, raising the price of the top ticket $50 to $350. 23,500 tickets for Super Bowl XXX at Sun Devil Stadium will be at $350, 10,700 at $250, and 37,500 at $200 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/9).