Nathan Landow read the fine print at the bottom of those profit and loss statements and decided he didn't need to wait for the writing on the wall.
Landow, a Bethesda real estate developer, called off his two-year bid for an NFL expansion team in Baltimore yesterday, then threw his support to Malcolm Glazer, citing Glazer's offer to pay as much as $200 million in cash for the franchise.
"Cash is king," Landow said. "That is the bottom line."
The bottom line for Baltimore is that there are now four groups of investors poised to submit a $100,000 application fee for ownership of a team when the NFL expands by two in 1994.
Those fees are due next Tuesday, and only $50,000 is refundable to a group that loses out.
Landow's withdrawal yesterday was a concession to the financial clout of Glazer's First Allied Corp., which has holdings across the country.
"I doubt anyone can surpass the offer made by Malcolm Glazer," Landow said. "If all the other prospective owners are honest with themselves, they'll take a second look at it.
"I know a good deal when I see it. We're all businessmen."
For the moment, the other three groups of investors -- novelist Tom Clancy, clothing magnate Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and a group that includes advertising executive Phyllis Brotman and three other Baltimoreans -- all plan on filing applications Tuesday.
Brotman, whose group has dropped Green Bay Packers Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Willie Davis in the past week, said her people were negotiating with a second potential majority owner. She said whether he joined or not, her group had the $100,000 in an escrow account and would apply.
"We think we can handle the money," she said. "Our greatest desire is to have the city returned to the NFL."
It is Landow's opinion that Baltimore should follow his lead and get behind the Glazer family. That includes the Maryland Stadium Authority, which, with the Greater Baltimore Committee, charged with bringing the NFL back to Baltimore.
In a statement he issued to the media, Landow said, "If NFL expansion to Baltimore is to become a reality, it is critical that the city unite behind a single ownership group. Other cities already have that advantage. Competition among prospective owners would inevitably hobble the city in its larger and more important contest with the other 10 cities seeking a franchise."
Bryan Glazer, the 26-year-old son of Malcolm Glazer and vice president of First Allied Corp., said he "greatly appreciated" Landow's support and called the move another positive step for his father's candidacy.
"The NFL is going to pick the best ownership group possible," Glazer said. "It would be helpful if it was [just] one group. It would make the city's proposal stronger. But we're confident our proposal will be looked at favorably."
The chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, Herbert Belgrad, said it would consider throwing its support to one owner in the right situation. He said he has asked the NFL for guidance in the matter.
"We are ready to move as quickly as we feel it's in our best interests to do so," Belgrad said. "In my view, it was premature to do what the Landow group did.
"I don't have sufficient information to make a decision. I'm impressed that the Glazers are ready to pay cash. But that's not the only criteria. In addition to the financial criteria, you need votes. And I don't know how many votes they have."
Bryan Glazer, meanwhile, said that should his father become the owner of a team here, he and his brother Joel would move to Baltimore.
Bryan currently lives in Chicago, and Joel in Washington. Both are vice presidents in charge of acquisitions at First Allied. Their father lives in Palm Beach, Fla.