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Volume 24 No. 158

Franchises

     If the Jets are not bought by Winnipeg investors by May 1,
the team could be on the move, according to Kevin Paul Dupont of
the BOSTON GLOBE.  Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow said he will not
extend the deadline from May 1, "perhaps because he believes he
can pocket $75 million plus (US funds) by selling south of the
border."  Dupont reports that Ogden Corp. has a standing offer to
move the team to the Target Center in Minneapolis, and if the
team is sold that could mean the July 8 amateur draft, to be held
in Winnipeg, would move -- possibly to L.A (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).

     Former Kings goalie and front office exec Rogie Vachon has
been appointed President of the team.  Vachon replaces Bruce
McNall, the former owner of the team who plead guilty in December
to a bank fraud scheme.  Vachon will be responsible for all
operating aspects of the team and report to Kings Chair Joseph
Cohen (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 3/18).  Former Bruins Asst GM & Coach
and ESPN analyst Mike Milbury was reportedly offered the dual
position of Kings GM-Coach. Milbury said last night that he
intends to stay at ESPN for the rest of the year ("National
Hockey Night," ESPN, 3/19).

     Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere was offered $225M from a buyer
who would keep the team in the L.A. area, according to Will
McDonough of the BOSTON GLOBE.  The proposal, "which came through
the NFL office to Frontiere," was rejected last week at the
league meetings.  One owner said Frontiere would have received
$200M up front and $5M a year for five years.  The owner said
there were "three parties interested in buying the team and
keeping it in Anaheim.  The $225 million was the best.  Almost
all of the owners would like to see her sell and get out of the
league.  There was a deal to be made here and the Rams screwed it
up" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
     NEXT STEPS:  Representatives of the Rams and FANS Inc. met
for four hours in St. Louis to discuss their strategy.  L.A.
lawyer Max Blecher, who represented the L.A. Coliseum during the
Raiders move in the early '80s, was present.  The focus of the
meeting was "retooling the relocation agreement" between FANS
Inc. and the Rams, and possible legal action against the NFL.
FANS Inc. spokesperson Tom Eagleton:  "I think you're going to
see some (legal) action by March 31st" (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS
POST-DISPATCH, 3/18).  But a move to St. Louis "is still a
possibility," writes Pat Yasinskas in Tampa.  "Don't be surprised
if the Rams sweeten the pot for the league" (TAMPA TRIBUNE.
3/19).
     AND THE EXPERTS SAY:  In an analysis of the NFL's history in
anti-trust lawsuits, the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH examines the
Rams' chances for legal success.  Three factors from the owners'
meeting "strengthen the Rams' case, should the team sue,"
according to anti-trust experts.  1) Statements by Patriots
management saying they voted against the move because they could
not compete with the Rams under the deal -- "this is a classic
anti-competitive statement."  2) "Indications of collusion
between the NFL and Fox."  And, 3)  The suggestion that the
league treated Frontiere differently because she is a woman
(O'Neil & Freivogel, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/18).
     THE BOYS CLUB:  Although league management seeks to be
"socially progressive," the owners' treatment of Frontiere proved
"they are relative Neanderthals and hardly ready yet to follow
the impressive lead" of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, according to
Len Pasquarelli in Atlanta.  It's "all too obvious there was some
sexism involved" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/19).  In Fort Worth,
Brian Higgins writes the owners "engaged in a game at which they
proved to be curiously adept.  It's called extortion."  Higgins
believes that "for a league that prides itself on a slick
business history, the NFL imposed a horribly unfair business
decision on the Rams" (FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/19).

     Several NFL teams await the league's decision on the Rams to
decide their own future.  In Cincinnati, Bengals President Mike
Brown reiterated his teams need for a new facility, but stressed
he has no desire to move.  However, an NFL spokesperson said the
league's top priority is putting teams in St. Louis and L.A. as
early as '96.  And if NFL owners "can find another team to move
to Los Angeles, the league probably would approve the Rams move."
A source close to the NFL said one option considered by the
owners in Phoenix is to build a stadium at Hollywood Park to be
shared by the Raiders and either the Bengals or the Browns.  But
the Bengals' Brown said it "sounds like some imaginations are
running wild."  Brown:  "No one has brought these plans up to me.
No, the league can't make you move.  It can only bar you. ... We
need a new stadium to compete, or we will have to look at other
options" (Green & Hobson, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/18).  One
"possible scenario" has the Bengals moving to St. Louis if the
Rams remain in Anaheim (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).  In
Cleveland, Browns Owner Art Modell said his team had a stronger
case to move under the NFL relocation guidelines than the Rams.
Modell said his team will not play in Cleveland Stadium when the
lease runs out in '98, "unless there is a major overhaul under
way."  Modell:  "It's not a threat.  It's simply a matter of
fact."  If the stadium issue is not resolved, Modell said he
would consider selling the team to a buyer who might move the
club (Tony Grossi, Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 3/17).

     With the Celtics scheduled to hold "Reggie Lewis Night"
Wednesday evening at the Boston Garden, two new reports over
continue to suggest the former basketball star may have used
cocaine.  On Saturday, the BOSTON GLOBE reported in a page one
exclusive that former Northeastern AD Irwin Cohen informed NU
President John Curry that Lewis and a teammate "tested positive
for cocaine in March of 1987."  Cohen was suspended with pay from
his new position as Assistant to the President while NU
investigates the case.  Curry told the GLOBE:  "I can no longer
say that Reggie Lewis was free from drugs while he played at
Northeastern" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/18).  In this morning's WALL
STREET JOURNAL, Ron Suskind reports that former NU player Derrick
Lewis, a "close friend" of the Celtics star, said "the two of
them used cocaine together on several occasions," including five
days before Lewis collapsed during a playoff game in '93 (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 3/19).  Reggie Lewis' widow, Donna Harris-Lewis,
again claimed that her husband did not use drugs, but the BOSTON
GLOBE reports that Harris-Lewis called Dr. Gilbert Mudge, Lewis'
cardiologist, on the night of his death and left a message
stating:  "There were many things that we could never tell you.
There were many things that you didn't know" (Stephen Kurkjian,
BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
     CELTICS RESPOND:  The Celtics said they will host the Lewis
event on Wednesday.  Celtics Chair Paul Gaston said the night
will celebrate Lewis' life, "not for the mistakes he might have
made along the line."  Gaston said he was undecided whether he
will pursue the $100M lawsuit he threatened last week against the
Journal over the original story.  Gaston:  "My beef all along
last week was I was accused of committing insurance fraud and
this doesn't change that" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
The GLOBE's Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Northeastern story
raises more questions:  "Follow the money. ... What did the
Celtics know and when did they know it? ... When is the last time
anybody saw Dave Gavitt?"  Gavitt was Celtics CEO at the time of
Lewis' death.  Shaughnessy urges the Celts to put the event "on
hold ... This just doesn't feel like the time to be raising any
banners" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
     MEDIA WATCH:  NBC, which was criticized by some for ignoring
the Lewis story during last week's NBA coverage, mentioned the
GLOBE piece yesterday during "Prudential's At the Half."  Hannah
Storm noted the revelation that Lewis had tested positive for
cocaine while at Northeastern.  Storm: "We should mention here
that there is no indication that Lewis used cocaine after 1987.
He entered the NBA later that year" (NBC, 3/19).  In New York,
Phil Mushnick writes that it is time for NBC to "admit what
several key NBCers privately admit with regret.  NBC has become
extremely selective about what it reports based on its
relationship with its two most important business partners -- the
NFL and the NBA. Especially the NBA" (N.Y. POST, 3/20).  In L.A.,
Mark Heisler addresses NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol's
characterization of the original Journal piece as "wholly lacking
in substantiation."  Heisler notes that it "was based on
interviews with 12 doctors, some of whom treated or were
consulted by Lewis" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19).