Expansion ponderings while awaiting decision

Phil Jackman

October 25, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Points to ponder while waiting for a couple of NFL franchises to drop as the gentle rain from heaven tomorrow:

* One of the contending cities from among Baltimore, St. Louis, Charlotte, Memphis and Jacksonville can really spice up their final-final presentation by offering to pick up the tab for treble damages of $114 million the league owes to Billy Sullivan, former New England Patriots owner.

* There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that they passed the collection plates and baskets two extra times during all church services in St. Louis yesterday.

* Even if successful, two years is much too long to wait for a team, especially one that's going to go either 2-14 or 1-15 playing in sumptuous Memorial Stadium the first season.

* It is not a inviting prospect that, if successful, we are about to set sail on the three-year debacle to name the proposed home of our helmet-heads. A natural for a stadium located on the edge of Pigtown, of course, would be the Pig Pen.

* Wouldn't it be something if, after all those years of practicing, marching, keeping the moths away from the uniforms and appearances yonder, the Baltimore Colts' Band disbanded? Or the prospective owner turned thumbs down on bands, cheerleaders and fan clubs?

* Flash! His nibs, Governor Schaefer, has let the NFL know he's happy with the ownership groups, somebody named Boogie and Gang Glazer. Of course, Hizzoner once thought Bob the red-faced owner Irsay was a heckuva fella, too.

* Come on, Coach Meathead, put in so-and-so. Never too soon to start a quarterback controversy.

* Unfortunately and as in the case of the just-concluded World Series, all anyone will remember about this unconscionable humbling of five cities by the Pigskin Monopoly is the end result.

* Charlotte, the candidate among the "frantic five" that has changed its proposal the most times (at last count it's 11), is thinking about getting around its stadium problems by declaring itself as a team that plays all road games.

* Isn't it strange that commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a lawyer no less, has been cautioning the owners not to express an opinion on expansion? He must have been away on a Georgetown

basketball trip (to Hawaii-Loa) the day the professor covered the Bill of Rights.

At the same time, Tagalong took a swipe at a few other amendments by suggesting the NFL expansion and finance committees come in with a two-city recommendation for their fellow owners to rubber stamp.

* What's going on here? Just as a movement is afoot to get rid of the Minuteman mascot at the University of Massachusetts because a Revolutionary War volunteer is toting a musket, here are our Bombers plastering "Enola Gay" on the side of their helmets.

* Everyone should stand for something, so I'm for Ragweed, so prominent here in the fall, being adopted as the team flower.

* It's not as though Charlotte's confident or anything, but commissioner Tagalong's favorite town has a victory parade slated for Friday. No word on where it will be, considering the team plans on playing its first season in Clemson, S.C.

* How big a deal can all this expansion business be when, on its "NFL Today" and "NFL Live" pre-game shows yesterday, CBS and NBC didn't even mention the "Chicago Showdown?"

* Pssst, how many of the owners, if they vote for a city strictly

because it guarantees the best gate-receipt payoff, realize they're going to have to match the visiting team windfall sooner or later?

Of course, what this means is they'll go to the city and state yammering they need new, enlarged stadiums, added luxury boxes, etc., etc.

* True story: Four seventh-graders met with a recreation director to divvy up players for a junior high league. They made their selections and, in no more than five minutes time, came up with the names Cowboys, Indians, Panthers and Bombers for the teams. Five minutes.

* It's hard to understand how, with 13 different owners comprising the expansion and finance committees and seven on the NFL executive committee, the highly respected and esteemed owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Bob Irsay, didn't land one of these prestigious positions. He probably turned down the appointments.

* The main money man for Memphis is a gent named Bill Dunavant and he says, "No sir, we won't make any money at this." That's a pretty safe assumption, guy. The city has been seeking a franchise for 28 years and this should count for something, right?

* Please, Fred Edelstein, inform us that St. Louis and Charlotte are "mortal locks" to land franchises so we can all rest easy.

* Hopefully, one of Baltimore's competitors will not revert to dirty pool and point out that the Colts averaged 27,000 spectators per game in 1982 (less than half the league average of 58,000) during its presentation.

* Back in 1991, commissioner Tagalong said, "If you make the assumption that we already are where we are going to be because we are on television, there is no case for expansion. But if you make the assumption that live football in new markets is an added factor for the league, there is a case." Huh?

* Remember when the Greater Baltimore Committee commissioned a study to see how pro football would go over here and an outfit named Migliara/Kaplan Associates came to the conclusion that a team would be able to unload 199,000 tickets per game, plus 700 sky box suites?

* "To be honest with you, all the good names for a team are already taken," said Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, who obviously ran into the same problem back in the days when he was coming by a nickname.

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