Let's charm NFL with multitude of rich people

September 29, 1991|By MIKE LITWIN

Talk, unlike NFL franchises, is cheap. I offer Nathan Landow as proof.

When the time came to put up or shut up. Landow decided he didn't have to do either. With a $100,000 registration fee due Tuesday, Landow dropped out of the race to own a possible expansion franchise in Baltimore.

And, while he was at it. he picked his own winner. That would be Malcolm Glazer, of the much-moneyed Glazers. Landow didn't stop there however. He said all the competing groups should pin him in backing the Glazers. They"ve got the cash, he said, as if that were that. Or, for that matter, as if he'll actually seen their books.

Do you unierstand the logic here? Landow can drop out, his hands stuffed safely in his pockets, if he wants. Butwhy should anyone else? How can it possibly hurt Baltimore's expansion chances to have more than one ownership group?

Yes, all the other cities seeking an expansion team have settled on a single ownershp group while Baltimore entertains multiple suitors. But, if anything that would indicate Baltimore is more loved. No wonder they call it Charm City.

And this popularity has other charms, too. If you take the competing groups, as now constituted, they have everything any NFL voter could possibly want in an owner. It's a smorgasboard ownership groups.

You want a guy with a ponytail? You got Boogie Weinglass.

You want a best-selling author? You got Tom Cancy.

You want to know how to build your own cruise missile? You still got Tom Clancy.

You want a Film director? You got Barry Levinsor. Maybe you saw the movie - the NFL owners walking down the city sreets saying. "Bal-ti- -more, it was the most beautiful place you've ever seen in your life."

You want some rich guys from Rochester, N.Y? You got the Glazers, the pros from out of town.

I don't know what Phyllis Brotman's group offers, or even if it'll pony up the cash by Tuesday, but, whatever, Baltimore comes to the NFL with a varety pack. How can this be a negative?

One thing for sure. it's a little premature to determine which group is best for Baltimore or for the NFL. Not that there aren't same opinions being heard. One comes from Boogie Weinglass: "We deserve it, plain and -simple."

This is an interesting observation. Why does Boogie's group deserve the team? Because, he says, Baltimore needs local ownership. Where was Boogie when he said this? Yes, at his home in Aspen, Colo. Is there anyplace in the world more unlike Baltimore than Aspen? It is the un-Baltimore, Well, there's also L.A. That's where his partner, Barry Levinson, lives.

Sure, Boogie and Barry are real, deep-down-inside, crabs-and-white-stoops Baltimorears, but they don't live here, although same of the other folks in their group do. But how Baltimore do you have to be? The Glazers, from out of toun, have said they intend to take up residence here. Two Sons have announced their plans to become Baltimoreans and even, if necessary, to learn how to talk Baltimorese. They could have gone anywhere to spend their money, but they want to come here.

Local ownership is always preferable, of course, but out-of-town ownership is not necessarily a bad thing, despite some recent evidence to the contrary. Bob lrsay was a bad owner, but not because he was from out of town. Eli Jacobs, whatever you think of him, would be the same person if he grew up across the street from William Donald Schaefer.

A good owner is someone who can hire good people to run the team and who keeps an open checkbook ready. Place of birth does not guarantee either quality.

The Glazers, wherever they're from, have already made a contribution. The simple fact is this: After Robert Tisch dropped out of the local picture to become part-owner of the Giants, a lot of people in the NFL thought Baltimore lacked anyone with enough money to make a serious bid. The Glazers have changed that by their very presence. Maybe the other groups have enough money, too, but the important thing is that the perception of Baltimore's chances has improved. One writer in Charlotte, N.C., a competing city, said that Baltimore went in search of a heavy hitter and came up with Babe Ruth.

No one has seen the books yet from any of the competitors, who will open them for the NFL by Tuesday. There is no sense in trying to guess what the NFL wants, other than obscene gobs of money. But whatever other qualities they might have in mind for an owner, it can't hurt to offer a selection.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.