Novel idea: Clancy NFL owner? Best-selling author indicates interest in an expansion team for Baltimore.

August 28, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff Carl Schoettler and Molly Dunham Glassman contributed to this story.

Novelist Tom Clancy, whose best-selling spy thrillers have earned millions, is considering filing a $100,000 application fee for ownership of a prospective NFL expansion team in Baltimore, his attorney said yesterday.

"He is on the perimeter, looking into it," Baltimore attorney David Cohan said.

"He hasn't made a definite decision, but he is exploring it."

Cohan said Clancy became interested in expansion two weeks ago, but declined to say how. Cohan would say only that the author had "been a Colts enthusiast since he was a boy, going with his father to Colts games." Clancy declined to comment on the matter today.

Clancy, 44, is a Baltimore native who lives in Prince Frederick in Calvert County. He has written several best-sellers, the most recent of which, "The Sum of All Fears," a novel about nuclear terrorism, currently is No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Among his other works are "Red Storm Rising," "Patriot Games," "The Cardinal in the Kremlin," and "Clear and Present Danger."

Clancy was an insurance agent in Maryland when his first novel, "The Hunt for Red October," was published in 1984.

"[Clancy] is considering it very seriously," said Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority. "His accountants are studying the pro formas we gave them. He is a Baltimorean at heart. He'd like nothing better than to see the NFL return here."

According to his attorney, Clancy is "evaluating the economic viability of the situation. When he concludes that, he will be in position to make a definite statement."

Cohan also said the author was not seeking to align himself with any other group seeking an expansion team. "To the extent Mr. Clancy decides to pursue this, he would be the principal," Cohan said. And if he does pursue it, Cohan said, Clancy would be a "very formidable candidate."

Clancy's net worth has been a matter of considerable speculation, but he won't disclose it. But he's probably earned $60 million from his books and movies sales, according to an estimate in a Forbes magazine article. Fleming Meeks, author of the article, said Clancy would have paid his agent $4 million to $5 million, and maybe $20 million in income taxes.

Meeks noted that in his latest book Clancy's alter ego, Jack Ryan, says his money managers estimate he's worth $20 million. Meeks said that might be a good indication of how much Clancy is worth. He estimates Clancy's "liquid" assets at something between $20 million and $35 million.

Clancy also owns considerable property, notably a $2 million home overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

He's one of the latest in the swelling ranks of potential owners. Belgrad said there now are eight groups who have contacted the authority about an expansion team.

Five of those eight groups are known. In addition to Clancy, the other known investors are Bethesda real estate developer Nathan Landow, clothing magnate Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, Baltimore Blast owner Edwin Hale and former Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr.

Although Cleveland banker Alfred Lerner previously had expressed interest in a team here, he subsequently removed himself from the picture and has not returned recent phone calls.

Expansion cities must file applications with the NFL office by Sept. 16, and prospective owners must file by Oct 1. Owners must submit a fee of $100,000, of which only $50,000 will be refunded.

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