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BROWNS INCH CLOSER TO APPROVAL FOR MOVE TO BALTIMORE
Published January 18, 1996
As they emerged from a meeting with NFL owners in Atlanta, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Cleveland Mayor Michael White "each predicted yesterday that the future of pro football in Cleveland will be resolved within a month," according to the Akron BEACON JOURNAL. Tagliabue: "It's not going to be any long delay. We're in a position to move by early February." Tagliabue downplayed rumors the Bucs would move to Cleveland, and White denied having any contact with Bucs officials or "anyone remotely associated with Tampa Bay." But the BEACON JOURNAL's Adams & Hubbuch note, "White didn't seem to rule out that a third party might be negotiating to bring the Buccaneers to Cleveland" (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/18). ART'S SIDE OF THE STORY: ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Browns Owner Art Modell did not speak with the owners very much, rather he let his attorney handle the presentations since he felt "he would be too emotional" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/17). One anonymous team official, comparing the two presentations: "Art's lawyer blew away the city" (Don Pierson, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/18). Modell's attorney, Robert Weber, said a "violent" campaign against Modell made it impossible for him to return to Cleveland (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/18). A released issued by the Browns defended the move and outlined the chronology of relations with local politicians. Modell was quoted as telling fellow owners: "If the league allows the Mayor to hold the Browns hostage, then every one of you are hostages too" (Browns). Giants co-Owner Robert Tisch, who said Modell did not make such harsh comments in the owners meeting: "I don't know why he put out that release" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 1/18). OUTLOOK: In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli reports league officials "all but conceded that the relocation of the [Browns] is likely to be approved, even if reluctantly, within the next two weeks" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/18). In Chicago, Don Pierson writes, "The handwriting on the wall is becoming more clear: It's only a matter of time before the franchise is playing in Baltimore" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/18). USA TODAY's Gordon Forbes writes Tagliabue and the Cleveland delegation "appeared headed for a settlement" -- although no potential solutions were offered (USA TODAY, 1/18). ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "Some people I know in the league -- who are in the know -- don't really know what is going to happen" ("SportsCenter," 1/17). In Baltimore, Ken Rosenthal writes, "Peace is nearly at hand" (Baltimore SUN, 1/18). NO SYMPATHY: Raiders Owner Al Davis said Modell does not have "clean hands" on the issue of franchise relocation. Davis: "You've got to remember that Modell was the one who spoke out adamantly against the Rams and the Raiders and put a lot of obstacles in our way in Los Angeles. Then, here he is standing up and -- in about one month -- changing everything he said in the last 15 years" (Bart Hubbuch, Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/18). Davis went on to call Modell's move to Baltimore a "diabolic plot" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).