Clancy hopes his elaborate NFL introduction is best-seller, too

John Staedman

March 11, 1992|By John Staedman

Put points on the scoreboard for Tom Clancy, the author who wants to restore professional football to his old hometown. Clancy has made an impressive attempt to gain attention, as all prospective owners are trying to do, by sending the National Football League commissioner and team owners an elaborate gift parcel that includes signed copies of his best-selling books and a personal introduction via video.

Since the NFL has gained immeasurable popularity through television, both in ratings and dollars earned for rights fees, Clancy took the same cue and is utilizing a similar method to formally present himself. But in this respect, it's a different tact. The attractive effort combines elegance and good taste wrapped up in an expensive and heavy (18-pound) package that has a gold-embossed stamping which reads:

' ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER FROM TOM CLANCY All six of Clancy's best-selling books, each personally autographed to the recipient, are included in a sectionalized packet. Then there's a surprise -- a volume-like pull-out that appears to be another book. Only it's a videotape, comprising 12 minutes, that introduces Clancy and a new approach he hopes draws the interest of the NFL.

The film opens with Clancy visiting Memorial Stadium, locating the top-deck seats he used as a child to watch the Colts, as he reflects warmly on his boyhood heroes in shoulder pads. Clancy is then pictured at a meeting with the editorial chiefs of G.P. Putnam & Sons, publishers of his last five novels, all of which went to No. 1 on the nation's reading list.

Then there's a longer segment on his involvement with the military. Prominent officers from the Army and Navy tell the world what they think of Tom Clancy. He's also shown with his family in Prince Frederick, where he now lives; speaking to a Cub Pack and taking part in ceremonies at Fort McHenry. The Rev. Joseph Sellinger, S.J., president of Loyola College, where Clancy was educated, offers praise for the 44-year-old's accomplishments.

Enclosed, too, is a cover letter from Clancy to every NFL owner, major and minority partners. The message, unlike his novels, is brief and to the point. It reads as follows:

"Ten years ago today, I had not yet begun work on my first novel, 'The Hunt for Red October.' In the last 10 years I have been blessed with two more children, worked pretty hard and enjoyed a good deal of luck. Today, I hope, to earn the right to return football to my hometown, Baltimore.

"You will want to know who I am. For starters, I've produced a video to give you an introduction to my interests in football and in life, and to introduce you to some of my friends.

"Beyond that, here for your enjoyment, are my six published novels. I have long had a rule for living: If I don't mean it, I don't say it. You will learn much about me from my words.

"I will be in Phoenix for your next league meeting. I hope I will have the chance to meet with you. Sincerely, Tom Clancy."

The quality of Clancy's presentation to the owners will make an impression, considering he offers worldwide name recognition, believes in being a red, white and blue patriot and has earned high marks as a citizen and family man. Will this be enough to get him the franchise when Baltimore, come October, learns if it has been awarded an expansion team?

"I don't have any idea," answered Tom with a smile, "but I think I'd vote for me."

At this point, Clancy's interests go up against rival groups headed by Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and Malcolm Glazer. He's currently flying solo while the others are fortified with extensive financial support, far more than Clancy has produced thus far. But this by no means shuts out other partners from subsequently joining him.

There's no way, unless you're Clancy, to know the price of this latest literary/video effort? One figure heard, for the video alone, is $88,000 but it's unsubstantiated. The executive producer of the work is the Maryland Communications Center Inc., headed by director Pamela R. Jones. The firm of Whiteford-Cohen

Productions was responsible for the filming, which is worthy of an Academy Award consideration in the field of a mini-documentary.

From the time Clancy made his desires known -- that he wanted to own the Baltimore expansion club -- until the present, he has invested close to $250,000 of his own money. He filed the NFL application, accompanied by a check for $100,000, gave $50,000 to the Maryland Stadium Authority to help promote Baltimore and now assumes the cost of the video production.

Clancy's total worth, accrued from books and movies, has been placed at $45 million and growing but, again, that's a mere guesstimate. To his credit, he's standing alone at this point while other potential investors decide if they'll join in his mission.

The man's sincerity can not be challenged. He has already spent more of his own money in the preliminary phase of readying a bid than any owner in the previous 35-year history of the Colts' franchise. Not bad for a kid who grew up in a rowhouse en route to conquering the literary world.

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