A federal magistrate in Providence, R.I., recommended yesterday that former New England Patriots owner William Sullivan Jr.'s $348 million lawsuit against the NFL and 21 of its teams be thrown out on technical grounds.
Sullivan charged in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Providence in May, that the league and the teams conspired against his plans to sell part of the franchise.
The NFL said in 1987 that Sullivan could not sell 49 percent of the club to investment bankers, as he proposed, because it violated a league rule against ownership by corporations outside football. He sued, claiming the ban was a violation of federal antitrust regulations.
But U.S. Magistrate Timothy M. Boudewyns said the suit against the NFL, the 21 teams, former commissioner Pete Rozelle and current commissioner Paul Tagliabue did not belong in federal court in Rhode Island.
The Patriots play their games in Foxboro, Mass., less than 20 miles from Providence, and conduct training camp at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I.
Sullivan claimed that the Providence court had jurisdiction because the league's rejection of his investment plan prevented Rhode Islanders from investing in the Patriots.
* STEELERS: NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue plans to hear Terry Long's appeal of his positive steroids test Wednesday in New York, according to the lawyer for the guard.
Attorney George Saunders said he expects Tagliabue to rule on the appeal before the season opener.
* COWBOYS: Linebacker Jesse Solomon, who stalked out of camp this week, said he telephoned coach Jimmy Johnson to repeat his demand for a trade or release.
The coach had told Solomon that Ken Norton would replace him as the strong-side starter, with Jack Del Rio replacing Norton in the middle.
* VIKINGS: Defensive tackle Keith Millard, 29, the NFL Defensive player of the Year in 1989, says he's been told he won't start the opener because the knee he injured last season hasn't improved enough.
Ken Clarke, 34, will start in his place.
* BENGALS: Reserve offensive tackle Kirk Scrafford could miss three weeks because an injured knee is healing slowly.
Scrafford's condition may create a season-opening roster spot for seven-year veteran Brian Blados.