Tagliabue says Rhinos aren't a runaway name Commissioner speaks of alternatives

September 01, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue dodged the Rhinos yesterday.

In a conference call with football writers around the country previewing the season, he said he wasn't aware NFL Properties wanted to name Baltimore's prospective expansion team the Rhinos before the name was made public. He made it obvious that he thinks it's appropriate to look at alternative nicknames.

"I thought that maybe they could take a look at other alternatives and try to work it out and see if they could get a stronger response from within the community and I guess that's the track it's on at this point," Tagliabue said. "I guess it's being looked at again now, which is, I think, a sensible way to go."

Tagliabue also said he wasn't sure whether cities had to have nicknames before the new teams are named in October. Officials from NFL Properties had indicated they wanted the cities to have nicknames in advance so they could start selling T-shirts as soon as the teams were granted.

Tagliabue said, "I don't really know what the latest conversations have been with the five expansion cities on that. There have been different approaches.

"I know that some people within the expansion cities thought it was very important to go forward and nail down a name. Other people have different views. I'm just not close enough to the discussion process to know where it stands right now as we move toward these late September presentations by the five cities."

Tagliabue didn't comment on whether he thought the Charlotte stadium financing plan is workable in light of the fact the city has sold only three-fourths of the premium seat licenses needed for the financing.

"I really don't feel I'm in a position to have a complete view of the financing issues at this point in order to be commenting on it," he said.

Tagliabue was certain about one thing. He said the league has no plans to expand by more than two teams in October.

"The membership [owners] feels that expansion by two is the step to take at this time for a whole variety of reasons. That's the approach we've had since we committed to expansion in 1991. I don't see that changing at this point, although it's certainly something that I'm sure will get discussion beyond October and next year," he said.

When Tagliabue was asked if the NFL would expand again in the next 10 years, he said, "It gets to be somewhat speculative, but I would think that could very well happen."

The NFL hasn't expanded since 1976 when it added Seattle and Tampa Bay.

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