Fans butt heads with NFL team name People don't see connection to city

August 11, 1993|By Brian Fishman | Brian Fishman,Staff Writer Staff writers Ken Murray and Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

Rhinos may have good hearing, but let's hope, for their sake, they didn't hear what people were saying about them yesterday.

If the NFL puts a team in Baltimore, it apparently will be called the Rhinos, and folks who were talking about that name yesterday didn't sound very happy.

"It sounds terrible to me," said Gordon Taybeck of Baltimore. "I can't picture this city having a sports team with that name. No. 1, it doesn't have a thing to do with Baltimore. No. 2, it even sounds bad on the tongue."

State Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, said: "I think it is absurd. . . . It has no connection with Baltimore or Maryland, although we act like we're in the zoo half the time in Annapolis."

However, former Baltimore Colt Art Donovan said he liked the name, backing it up with a little wildlife lesson.

"Rhinos are tough animals," he said. "Even lions run from them. They say lions are the king of the jungle, but not when they meet rhinos and elephants."

At the Baltimore Zoo, home to the only rhinos in town so far, 25-year-old Daisey Mae stood still and picked away at the grass while dozens of people watched from several feet away yesterday.

Daisey Mae, one of two white rhinoceroses kept at the zoo, apparently was unmoved by the day's news. In one 15-minute span, she slowly ate from the ground and then trudged into a shady area. Daisey Mae stood still and did not once VTC acknowledge the small gathering of people or answer questions from a reporter.

Daisey Mae shares her pasture with three zebras, and they get along just fine -- there were no penalty flags yesterday.

But on the streets of Baltimore, people apparently didn't think the name was just fine.

"That's absurd," said Maria Parker of Baltimore. "It's ridiculous."

And though the NFL wants a politically correct name, Maryland politicians didn't find it correct.

"I'm all for getting a football team. I'm willing to put up $100 million. But not for the Baltimore Rhinos. I think that is too big a price to pay," said Del. Timothy F. Maloney, D-Prince George's, chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee. "It is ridiculous. It's preposterous. Zoologically speaking, I think it is a big mistake."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer's press secretary, Page W. Boinest, said the governor was surprised by the choice, and hoped the name would reflect something unique to Maryland.

Ex-Colts quarterback Bert Jones said: "I'm not going to say the NFL is stupid, but I can think of lots of other names they could possibly use."

Another former Colts quarterback, Marty Domres, said: "Something to do with the culture [would be preferable]. . . . It ought to have something to do with the bay. Rhinos just doesn't get it for me."

Even at the zoo, Rhinos wasn't a popular name.

"I wish the affiliation with Baltimore could be a bit more dignified," said Greg Fudge of Severna Park, while staring at Daisey Mae. "Rhino is a great name for a football team, but I'd rather see Baltimore have another name."

For some, the best choice for a new team would be the old name.

"It used to be Colts, but of course they could not use it," said Bayu Gabreamlak of Baltimore. "I would want that as the name. Football and Colts are synonymous to Baltimore."

But Mr. Lapides did offer one use for the name.

"Maybe the NFL should change its name to Rhino," he said, "because it is constantly goring the public."

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