The Baltimore NFL expansion derby is down to three owner finalists -- businessmen Malcolm Glazer and Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and author Tom Clancy.
They are the three groups who have sent in their applications to the NFL along with a $100,000 filing fee. The deadline for filing is today.
"The race is on," Clancy said.
Although Baltimore may be the only one of the 11 contending cities with more than one owner group, Bryan Glazer, one of Malcolm's sons, said: "This brings attention to the city, which is a plus for everybody. We're all trying to achieve the same goal, which is to bring a team to Baltimore."
The field was cut to three yesterday, when the old Bart Starr
group -- renamed the Maryland NFL Expansion Group Ltd. -- pulled out and decided not to apply.
They were the second group in the past five days to decide not to file. Maryland land developer Nathan Landow decided not to apply Thursday and threw his support to Glazer, owner of First Allied Corp. Landow said Glazer has the most financial clout and felt it would help Baltimore to unite behind one group.
The old Starr group decided not to file because it couldn't find a wealthy backer. After Starr failed to recruit a backer, he dropped out, and the group took on a more local focus and attempted to persuade chicken magnate Frank Perdue to join them.
Perdue had turned down offers in the past to get involved. When he again declined, the group pulled out.
Phyllis Brotman, a spokeswoman for Maryland NFL Expansion Group, said she wasn't sure if the members would support one of the three groups or try to join one of them.
"We've heard from the people involved," Clancy said. "I'll meet with anybody. I've met with KGB officers, and they tell good jokes, particularly now."
Clancy remains confident about his chances.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm the only application that matters, or I wouldn't be doing this," Clancy said. "The activity in the other groups is interesting, but it's not terribly important to me, because we have other things to worry about. The object is to get a football team for the city of Baltimore. If we all work together toward that goal, we're going to get it. I'll give it my best shot."
Clancy, though, is revealing the least about group or financial backing. He compares it to the writing of one of his techno-thrillers. He said he never reveals anything about his books until they're published and people can read them.
By contrast, Glazer says he has the cash to write a check for up to $200 million to buy the franchise as the sole owner, and Weinglass, chairman of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc., which operates a nationwide chain of clothing stores, said his group has a net worth of $350 million and will have no trouble buying the team.
Weinglass and Clancy are stressing the value of local ownership, and two of Glazer's sons, Joel and Bryan, say they plan to move to Baltimore and live here if the family gets a team.
Although the filing deadline is today, an NFL spokesman said the league won't announce the names of all the applicants in each city until tomorrow.
The NFL is committed to cut the field by next March, but it's uncertain if action will be taken before then. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue hasn't even gotten around to scheduling a meeting of the expansion committee.
Roger Goodell, NFL director for club relations and international development, is in charge of analyzing the applications and preparing a report for the expansion committee.