Schaefer displays perfect pitch in speech to owners BALTIMORE GETS THE STALL

October 27, 1993|By John Steadman | John Steadman,Staff Writer

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- What Gov. William Donald Schaefer had to say to the NFL owners in what could be termed his "state of the franchise" speech left his listeners impressed.

Applause is never appropriate at presentations of this kind, but one owner, Al Davis of the Los Angeles Raiders, came to his feet and said he wished he had recorded the speech so governors all over America could hear it.

It took Schaefer only one minute and 15 seconds to put Baltimore's bid in perspective with a minimum of words that offered clarity and conviction.

Schaefer first wrote the message in his own handwriting and, after Baltimore's participation was concluded, agreed to repeat the sentiments he conveyed after extensive interviews with the assembled group of media members.

Here's what the governor told the NFL owners:

"I wonder how I can say in one minute something that will be different and add something I want you to know.

"One: I know what franchises mean to a city. Prestige, jobs, tax benefits, new businesses.

"Two: I have always had a long and intense interest in professional sports. One of my first actions after being elected governor was to propose and pass legislation allowing us to build a baseball and football stadium.

"Three: This is important. I want all of you to make money and have a successful franchise. This is important to me because all of you are businessmen as well as sportsmen.

"Four: Economic impact is important, but there is another factor, and this is personal. It's called community pride. I want to make Maryland and Baltimore a whole and complete community with museums, schools, theaters, hospitals, homes and a football team."

Then came his concluding sentence. He left the owners this: "I was there when the team left, and I want to be there on the happy day when the franchise returns."

It was a concise, penetrating minute and 15 seconds. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke told a news conference:

"The governor had about a minute and 15 seconds to make a presentation. I thought it as the best minute-and-15-second sales pitch I've ever heard in any form in my life. I thought he appealed to a lot of different interests. He appealed to the fan, community interests, he appealed to NFL tradition. I think the outcome of their decision is going to be impacted fairly heavily by what he had to say."

The governor also praised Schmoke's comments at the end of the video presentation.

"The last person on the video was the mayor. He made a very strong statement -- 'Give Baltimore the ball.' It was a fine ending to the video," he said.

Schaefer's remarks were direct and, according to the listening owners, put points on the expansion scoreboard for Baltimore.

He wasn't Knute Rockne or William Jennings Bryan, the last of the great orators, but he was merely William Donald Schaefer, and that made an impression.

THE WAITING GAME

MA

Chronology of yesterday's NFL meetings (all times Eastern):

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: The finance committee held an unscheduled meeting to "discuss business," but not expansion business, said league spokesman Joe Browne. The discussion included the judgment of $114 million awarded to former New England Patriots owner William Sullivan, who said the NFL illegally blocked him from selling public stock.

a.m. to 3 p.m.: The expansion and finance committees met in joint session and heard presentations from two potential ownership groups in St. Louis -- Stan Kroenke, a developer from Columbia, Mo., and Fran Murray, who was involved in St. Louis' original investment group.

p.m. to 6 p.m.: The five expansion finalists made their presentations to the full body of NFL owners, a process that ran longer than expected. Baltimore made the fourth of five presentations.

6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m: Browne addressed the media and raised a number of possibilities, among them that the expansion committee could make a recommendation of just one city when its intent was to recommend two. He also called "slim" the possibility that more than two cities could be awarded franchises. At about the same time, the expansion and finance committees met again to work toward a recommendation.

p.m.: The full membership went back into meeting.

p.m.: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the Carolina Panthers had been unanimously selected as the league's 29th franchise, and that the decision on the second expansion city would be made Nov. 30.

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