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Even though the NFL's finance committee voted 6-1 to change cross ownership rules to allow owners to own teams in other sports, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue "ran into so much opposition" on the issue that he "tabled" it until the NFL's spring meetings in March, according to Vito Stellino of the Baltimore SUN. Bills Owner Ralph Wilson, who objects cross ownership: "It's virtually the last rule we have and we should defend it. If the rules are good enough for 75 years or whatever, why do we have to change?" Bengals Owner Mike Brown: "The rule makes these teams special to the people who own them" (Baltimore SUN, 11/3).
As MLB owners prepare to meet in Chicago tomorrow to vote on a proposed labor deal, "a move was afoot yesterday to maneuver the responsibility of killing" the deal from the owners to the players, according to Murray Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. Some owners have talked about making changes to the proposed deal, "most likely removing the players option for a sixth year," and sending it back to the union for its approval. Ownership would expect the union to "reject an altered agreement, but then it would appear that the players and not the owners were undermining labor peace." One owners' source called the idea a "cheap publicity stunt" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/5). USA TODAY's Hal Bodley notes the deal "appears doomed, with at least eight owners prepared to vote it down." In his updated ownership survey, Bodley has the Red Sox joining the White Sox, Cubs, Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Astros and Expos in voting against a deal (USA TODAY, 11/5). CNN's Nick Charles that MLB may let the Devil Rays and D'Backs vote on the deal even though they won't begin play until '98. Charles: "Allowing votes for the expansion teams only adds more potential opponents to stop the deal" ("SportsTonight," CNN, 11/4). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes that Twins are also "prepared" to vote against the deal (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/5). RAMIFICATIONS: In Chicago, Dave Van Dyck writes if the deal is defeated, "almost certainly, there will be another strike or lockout this winter or spring. And, almost certainly, [MLBPA Exec Dir Donald] Fehr would become a hero to his troops." One "insider" told Van Dyck, "It will get brutal. What you have seen so far isn't anything compared to what you will see" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/5). NO NIKE: Last Thursday, MLB owners rejected the first "big deal" put together MLB Enterprises CEO Greg Murphy, a proposed 10-year contract with Nike, according to Ronald Blum of the AP. Nike spokesperson Jim Small: "We're disappointed that baseball still can't seem to get its house in order." Under the deal, Nike would have logo rights to 15-to-18 team uniforms, stadium signage and ad time on network broadcasts. MLB team officials "were angered" that while Nike was making "a large commitment," up to $200M, a "very small percentage of the money would have been filtered down to individual clubs." Other clubs "complained" that teams on the MLB Properties board had more information on the deal than others. One official: "People felt it was an uneven playing field." Clubs were also against an "ambush" clause preventing teams from selling ads to Nike competitors (Ronald Blum, AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/5).