It's posturing with a view toward positioning. Malcolm Glazer attempting to create good will for himself in what he hopes will be a successful bid for a Baltimore football franchise, has hit attention-getting musical notes but at the same time is letting someone else blow his horn. Meaning the Baltimore Colt Band.
Glazer wants the public to know he has more than a portfolio of impressive financial holdings to offer the National Football League expansion committee. He's now playing the public relations game with more than subtle effectiveness.
Making Glazer look good by enhancing his popularity with the home folks is the first objective of marketing manager Bob Leffler. And there's no more popular way to prove such a point than by befriending the volunteer band, which has been marching non-stop in Baltimore since the Colts, as a team, were organized in 1947.
The band draws cheers so Malcolm and his family, watching from the sideline, share in the applause, at least vicariously. It may not have the same cultural influence as assisting a civic symphony, but it shows Glazer is eager to please.
"Some of our instruments were so old they were falling apart," said John Ziemann, president of the band. "In our last parade we actually had to pick up some of the pieces.
"The Glazers heard about our situation and wanted to help us. We've received a new set of contra/tuba bass horns and melophones, thanks to them. The entire band is eternally grateful. Mr. Glazer wanted to know if we would continue as the Baltimore Colt Band, even if the city wasn't awarded an expansion team. We gave him an emphatic yes and that pleased him."
Now the band becomes a direct beneficiary of the Glazers' desire to put points on the scoreboard in the public relations game. Why not? The band is a Baltimore tradition. It's not a version of "can you top this" because what the citizens of Baltimore think -- or how the band sounds -- isn't going to influence whether the Glazers or the two other potential ownerships vying for the franchise gain an inside position with the league.
Tom Clancy, the prominent author who just received a world record advance of $13 million for his next book, and his partner, Jim Robinson, a movie producer, whose credits include "Robin Hood," are in the competition, along with a group headed by Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and other businessmen. Clancy, Robinson and Weinglass are Baltimore-born.
Malcolm Glazer is from Rochester, N.Y., but now lives in Palm Beach, Fla. "I believe in Baltimore," he said, "or I wouldn't be here. Baltimore is the proper city for the league to have a franchise."
No quarrel there.
Meanwhile, Weinglass reported that Joe Washington, a former NFL player with the Chargers, Colts and Redskins, will be joining his team. It would mean the addition of a minority member, which always pleases the NFL. But there are still months to go before the league makes its selections -- the places where two new clubs are going and choice of owners.
First, the way has to be cleared for expansion, something NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has advocated since assuming the position in 1989. Another step in the interviewing process will come about tomorrow when Neil Austrian, president of the NFL and Tagliabue's chief assistant, will meet individually with Baltimore ownership prospects before the preseason game at Memorial Stadium between the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.
Nothing of a definitive nature is expected to emerge from the sessions. It is just an effort on Austrian's part to get to know them all better, meaning the Glazers, Clancy, Robinson and Weinglass. Baltimore, this week, has had what amounts to a late-summer football festival, leading up to the exhibition between the Saints and Dolphins.
The game is sold out and has been since the eve of the Super Bowl. Leonard "Big Wheel" Burrier is ready to roll out the cheers. The band, of course, will be breaking in its new instruments, marching the field and adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
The Glazers, no doubt, will be smiling because of their latest musical involvement.