Strike up the band: Boogie thinks he'll waltz into NFL

John Steadman

November 13, 1991|By John Steadman

When the rest of the crowd stopped grooving while the band continued to play, it generally suggested something special was about to happen. The other dancers shut down their gyrations, formed a circle to watch what was going on in front of them and, quite often, responded with applause. Leonard Weinglass, along with his partner, were provided all the leg-room they needed. The cat could boogie.

So Leonard Weinglass became known then and ever after among his contemporaries as "Boogie" Weinglass, who had more moves than a drunken man on roller skates. The jiving kid was a hot ticket. He still is.

Now the pony-tailed Weinglass, who is 50, maturing somewhat, but not too quickly, thank goodness, wants to own a football team in Baltimore. He is married, the father of three young children and has 675 clothing outlets around the country with earnings in the last fiscal year of $37.5 million.

There have been reports he was once a gambler. Past tense. "That used to be," he said, "but it ended in 1979." That's long enough for the statute of limitations to expire. And certainly it represents an appreciable period of time for a man to get out from the under any tag of suspicion regarding the National Football League.

"A lot of people work for me. Ask them if I gamble. The answer is no. I don't even know a bookmaker. I have been in a casino only four times and at a race track about six times my whole life. Certainly, no more than that. Gamblers are losers, and I'm not a loser."

What Weinglass, a poor boy from the Easterwood Park section of Baltimore, has done is to become a momentous success story. And he, along with associates, made application for a NFL

expansion franchise. Why such a gnawing ambition?

"I love the sport and love Baltimore. It would be an honor to own a team. I'm not a jerk. It upset me when Abe Pollin took the Bullets to Washington and Bob Irsay stole the Colts from Baltimore and moved to Indianapolis. I've had a chance to buy basketball and baseball franchises but since they didn't involve Baltimore I wasn't interested."

It's Weinglass' hope if he is fortunate enough to be tapped with the responsibility of helping to put Baltimore back in the pro football business that he could possibly, if the league approved, consider George Young for a high executive position. Young is now employed by the New York Giants in the capacity of general manager. They once had a teacher-student relationship.

Weinglass was enrolled at Baltimore City College and Young taught history and coached football. It was Young who monitored the deportment of the young, irrepressible Weinglass and, although frustrated at times, never gave up.

"Wouldn't it be a twist of fate, if I got the team and George was available to put it together and make the football decisions?" pondered Boogie.

The matter has indeed crossed his mind. "Boogie" also has assembled a group of expansion team investors, including David Bernstein and Richard Pearlstone, among others, that he insists have a combined net worth of $350 million. There are two other candidates in contention, too, namely author Tom Clancy and Malcolm Glazer of Palm Beach, Fla.

"I think I'm going to be the winner when the league makes its final decision," he prophesied. "I won't 'bad-mouth' the competition. I've been a victim myself, like when allegations are made that I gambled years ago. Coming out of high school, I had a scholarship offer from Western Maryland College to play basketball but I got married instead."

"Boogie" believes his position is enhanced by the fact he rents store space in "at least 80 shopping malls" owned by Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., operator of the San Francisco 49ers, who is a member of the NFL expansion committee. He interprets this business connection as playing a significant role in his and Baltimore's favor.

Since he has been the winner of numerous dance contests and is now a leading figure in the corporate business world, he holds high hopes of coming out ahead in the quest for a franchise.

If it happens, keep the band playing all night and let "Boogie" celebrate with a revved-up, non-stop adaptation of the "Weinstein Wiggle", which is not exactly the limbo.

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