Afc Owners

October 24, 1993

Team: New York Jets

Owner: Leon Hess

Background: Hess, 78, is a native of Asbury Park, N.J., where his father ran a fuel delivery business with two trucks. Hess left school at age 18 to drive of those trucks and eventually worked his way up to become the chairman of his own oil company, Armerada Hess Corp. He first bought a piece of the team in 1963, eventually took control from Sonny Werblin and has been the sole owner in 1984. He's considered by many to be an ideal owner who stays in the background and lets the football people run the team with virtually no interference.

Views on Baltimore: If Hess skips the meeting, he'll leave the vote in the hands of team president Steve Gutman, who would likely vote for the committee recommendation.

Team: Miami Dolphins

Owner: Tim Robbie

Background: Robbie, 38, is the son of the late Joe Robbie, the former team owner. Robbie graduated from Tulane in 1977 and was an executive for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League before joining the Dolphins. Before the elder Robbie died, he put Tim, his other son, Dan, and his daughter, Janet, in charge of the team. Faced with crushing debt because Joe Robbie privately financed the team's new stadium, the three sold half the stadium and 15 percent of the team to H. Wayne Huizenga.

Views on Baltimore: Because former Colts coach Don Shula is likely to put in a good word for Baltimore, and because Robbie was impressed with the city when the Dolphins played the exhibition game here, Baltimore is counting on his vote. Robbie likes public financing of the stadium because his father piled up so much debt building his stadium privately.

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Owner: Bob Irsay

Background: Irsay, 70, is a native of Chicago. He built an air conditioning company that he sold in 1971 to get the cash to buy the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and trade them for the Colts. He moved the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984. During his tenure, the team has yet to win a playoff game, and he's having the same problem selling seats in Indianapolis (the local TV blackout has been lifted for only five of the past 26 games) that he did in Baltimore.

Views on Baltimore: This is one vote Baltimore's not counting on, although Baltimore officials have been careful not to criticize him in their presentation. Baltimore's hope is that if it's included in the committee's recommendation, he'll vote for that.

Team: Buffalo Bills

Owner: Ralph Wilson

Background: Wilson, 74, grew up in Detroit. He graduated from the University of Virginia and attended Michigan Law School. He is chairman of Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Enterprises, which has its headquarters in Detroit. It is a diversified management and investment company with interests in construction, television broadcasting and the venture capital industry. One of only three original AFL owners still in the league. Even though he helped the NFL grow by forming the AFL, he opposes expansion by more than two teams.

Views on Baltimore: Wilson hasn't made up his mind, but it could be helpful for Baltimore that he's good friends with Wellington Mara, a Baltimore supporter.

Team: New England Patriots

Owner: James Busch Orthwein

Background: Orthwein, 69, is a member of the St. Louis Busch family, but his business was advertising, not beer. He began his business career with D'Arcy Advertising Co. in 1947 and worked his way up to become chairman of the board in 1970 and president and co-chief executive officer of a merged company before retiring in 1983. He joined the St. Louis effort in 1990, bankrolled Fran Murray's minority interest in the Patriots and wound up buying the team to protect his investment. His original plans were to sell the team to a New England investor and return to the St. Louis effort. Instead, he pulled out of his majority ownership position with the St. Louis effort and has yet to sell the Patriots.

OC Views on Baltimore: He's the mystery man in this whole process.

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Owner: Dan Rooney

Background: Rooney, 61, is the son of the team's founder, Art Rooney Sr. He was born the year before the team was founded (1933) and grew up with it. He's been actively involved in the team for 38 years. Although his father didn't officially name him team president until 1975, he started running the team on a day-to-day basis in the late 1960s. He's one of the most influential owners in the league and played a major role in negotiating labor agreements in 1977 and 1982 and earlier this year.

Views on Baltimore: As one of the old-guard owners, he is sympathetic to Baltimore, but he's likely to support the committee recommendation if it's unanimous.

Team: Cleveland Browns

Owner: Art Modell

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