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PHIL GRAMM GETS IN THE MIX TO BRING FOOTBALL BACK TO HOUSTON
Published May 29, 1996
U.S. Senator Phil Gram will bring NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to Houston today to begin talks "aimed at easing the testy relations between the city and the league," according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The two will meet with Mayor Bob Lanier and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels. A "key to the discussion" will be U.S. Rep. Martin Hoke's (R-OH) Fan Freedom and Franchise Protection Act, currently before Congress. That bill would require leagues to restore teams to abandoned cities within five years. Gramm has been "unwilling to support the bill," but an aide said he might change his mind if Houston does not get a team to replace the Oilers (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/29). In Nashville, Rep. Ed Bryant (R-TN) said he has had talks with GOP House leadership and believes the Hoke bill will be "quickly killed" (Penny Bender, Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/24). NEWS & NOTES: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports, in addition to a $500,000 fine for any contact between an owner and another city over relocation, other sanctions, including the loss of draft picks, could be levied ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/28). In Baltimore, Vito Stellino writes in his column ("Tagliabue's no- move edict has no teeth") that the Commissioner "seems to have forgotten that action speaks louder than words" (Baltimore SUN, 5/26)....In Tampa, Nick Pugliese writes "straw polls" at the latest NFL meetings in Charlotte showed that "old-guard owners still have enough votes to block changes" to the league's cross- ownership policy -- "hardly good news" for the Dolphins' Wayne Huizenga or the Seahawks' Paul Allen (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/26).