Open air, open mind: Glazer dislikes domes, but ...

Pro football

November 14, 1991|By Ken Murray

Malcolm Glazer says he's a traditionalist. When it comes to a new Baltimore football stadium, that would mean an open air facility, grass field and the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

What it also would mean, if the head of First Allied Corp. is named owner of an NFL expansion team here, is no dome.

"I like tradition," Glazer said recently. "I think people like different climates. A sterile 72 degrees with lights is a little too sterile for me. I like it where you don't know what the weather will be."

The Maryland Stadium Authority hasn't committed itself on what kind of stadium it would build for an NFL team. But authority chairman Herb Belgrad leans toward a dome because it would be cost efficient, enabling the city to get more for its money by hosting more events than just football games. Because of available funds, though, it would be necessary for the new owner to pay the extra $40 million to $50 million needed to construct a dome.

To which Glazer replied, "Whatever is best for Baltimore . . . I'd leave it up to the [stadium authority]," sounding, perhaps, like it was still open for debate.

On the subject of nicknames, Glazer takes an equally magnanimous, although realistic position. He said he wants the fans to pick the nickname. But don't hold your breath waiting for the team to be re-christened the Colts.

That would require a large, lump-sum payment to Indianapolis owner Robert Irsay, who already has reaped a huge financial bonanza for leaving Baltimore in the middle of the night in March 1984. The thought is repulsive, even to Glazer, who is one of three men seeking Baltimore owner ship. Author Tom Clancy and businessman Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass are the other two.

"He did something that was not very nice to the city," Glazer understated. "We shouldn't reward him [any more] for that."

* ODE TO JOE: Did the San Francisco 49ers' dynasty hinge solely on the right elbow of quarterback Joe Montana? And when he went out of the lineup, were the 49ers doomed to a no-playoff season?

In hindsight, the 49ers can better appreciate how valuable Montana really was with his fourth-quarter wizardry, his on-the-field leadership, his iron will to win. But losing Montana wasn't the only thing that has gone wrong for the 49ers. They also have themselves to blame for their current 4-6, out-of-the-running mess. To wit:

* There has been a noticeable lack of leadership. The loss of safety Ronnie Lott (through Plan B free agency) was accentuated in the 49ers' 12-6, Week 5 loss to the Raiders, for whom Lott now plays. 49ers linebacker Charles Haley was so distraught that Lott, dressed only in a towel, had to be brought into the Niners' locker room 20 minutes after the game to get him under control.

* There have been questionable coaching decisions. The 49ers had rushed for 108 yards in the first half of a loss to Atlanta two weeks ago, averaging 4 yards a carry. Yet at the start of the second half, after quarterback Steve Young had gone out with a sprained knee, the 49ers curiously called passes on six of the first nine plays for third-string quarterback Steve Bono. In a game they lost on a Hail Mary pass at the finish, the 49ers ran for only 21 yards in the second half with Bono getting his first serious playing time in the NFL.

This oddity was repeated in last week's 10-3 loss to the Saints. The 49ers again averaged 4 yards a carry in the first half, running 17 times and passing 12. But in the second half they ran the ball on only six of 30 plays. When Montana was quarterbacking, offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren was held in high regard. Now?

* Management decisions have backfired. The 49ers wouldn't meet the asking price for running back Bobby Humphrey of Denver, whom they badly needed. But they did make a trade for disgruntled Green Bay linebacker Tim Harris. Through five games, Harris is sack-less. His biggest contribution was a tipped pass last week.

* The 49ers sound and look like a loser. After each loss, they lament turnovers and penalties, two of the surest indicators of a bad team. The Niners lead the league in penalties. All six losses have been by a touchdown or less. And that's where Montana could have made a difference.

* STRETCH RUN: The Redskins are rolling toward the first perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins went 17-0. More important, though, is gaining home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. And the teams with the two best conference records will get coveted first-round byes. This is how the final six weeks shape up for the three NFC division leaders:

* The Redskins lead the East at 10-0. They play four of their six remaining games on the road, but only one of those teams (Dallas, 6-4) has a winning record. The combined record of Washington's final six opponents is 27-34.

* The Saints lead the West at 9-1. They play four of their last six on the road, against two winning teams. The record of their opponents is also 27-34.

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