Schaefer ready to start hunt to get even

December 03, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer sent a public message to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue: Baltimore still wants the ball and is going to try to go out and get one.

"A lot of people know we're going to keep on trying. We're not going to let Tagliabue get off by making a monkey out of us completely. We're still going to stay in there," Schaefer said yesterday on his weekly radio appearance on WBAL.

He said the official announcementwouldn't come until next week.

"There are some things going on right now, I'm glad to say. There are things brewing. . . . We won't talk about it until the middle of the next week when we'll make up our mind on the way we're going to go," he said.

His comments yesterday indicated he's ready to go full speed ahead. He even predicted that teams are going to move in the NFL.

"There are some cities that are going to lose a team and we're going to know about it," Schaefer said. "We just don't want to be whip-sawed back and forth. I think we've got enough friends and we'll be able to tell whether we're being used."

Schaefer said it doesn't matter whether a team moves to Baltimore on its own or whether Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass or Malcolm Glazer, the two original potential owners in Baltimore, buys a team and moves it.

"There are people in the country that know we got a pretty raw deal and know that Baltimore is a great opportunity for football," he said. "If Mr. Weinglass buys a team and brings it here, it'd be fine, it'd be great. No problems at all. If Mr. Glazer buys a team, fine, be my guest. If somebody else buys them here, it's the same answer."

The unanswered question is whether the league can block a move. The league has set up certain criteria for moving, but its legality could be challenged in light of the recent antitrust suit won by former New England Patriots owner Billy Sullivan, who had been forced by the league to sell the team.

After Baltimore lost out in the expansion contest Tuesday, two teams told Herbert J.Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, that they might be interested in moving to Baltimore. One of those teams contacted him again yesterday, Belgrad said.

The two candidates come from the pool of five teams that earlier had been mentioned as moving possibilities -- the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, though, have indicated they now plan to stay in Cincinnati.

But Belgrad, who was optimistic that the St. Louis Cardinals would move here in 1988 (they went to Phoenix) or that the city would get an expansion franchise, is now stressing it's no sure thing a team will move.

"I don't want to build any false optimism," Belgrad said. "We're ready to talk if somebody wants to talk to us, but there's a lot of distance between talk and a letter of intent," he said.

He added the city can't offer much more than it has offered already. "We have a package on the table and we think it's an exciting package, but there's not a lot of give on our part. We're not in a negotiating mood," he said.

Schaefer, meanwhile, said that Tagliabue led him on when Baltimore was never a viable contender.

"I wish he would have given all of us fair treatment by saying, 'You're not in the ballgame, so why spend the million or so dollars and the energy you're going to have to put in?' " Schaefer said.

"There were two sets of rules. We couldn't have won. We were never in the ballgame. Mr. [Alfred] Lerner coming in made no difference at all. They were hoping we wouldn't bring anybody else in so that they could sort of use our ownership [against us]. I think the thing that was most interesting was that Mr. [Art] Modell didn't vote for us," he said.

Lerner is a minority partner in the Cleveland Browns, whose majority owner is Modell. He voted for Jacksonville.

Schaefer said he still would have brought in Lerner if he had to do it over again, because it prevented the NFL from saying the ownership groups were a problem.

"Tagliabue, he's smooth, he's good," Schaefer said. "He talked to Mr. Weinglass. He talked to Mr. Glazer. I think he even talked to Mr. Lerner. All of us, we really thought we had a shot. You don't think he [Lerner] would have come in if he would have known the cards were stacked against him. The commissioner decided Jacksonville was it.

The governor said that if Tagliabue visits Camden Yards this summer, as he did last year, "I'm going to have it announced on the loudspeaker that we have the commissioner of football in Seat 10, Row 14."

Meanwhile, he couldn't say enough good things about Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, who backed Baltimore to the end.

"Tagliabue couldn't scare him. He couldn't push him around. He was our champion," Schaefer said.

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