CFL Colts. It might be the best compromise since...


March 24, 1994

CFL Colts. It might be the best compromise since. . . Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Sure, the downtown stadium moniker seemed an unwieldy mouthful at first, too. But the compromise jury-rigged by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and then-Orioles owner Eli Jacobs eventually grew on the public. Besides, the name turned out to be inclusive enough to satisfy various tastes; folks call it "Oriole Park," "Camden Yards," "The Yard" and on rare occasions, even by its proper name.

That's the beauty of the "CFL Colts," the nickname that Virginia businessman Jim Speros announced as his choice for the

Canadian Football League franchise he is bringing to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium this summer.

Adding "CFL" to "Colts" might sound clumsy, but Mr. Speros and his backers hope the combination is sufficient to discourage the National Football League from tying up Mr. Speros in court.

The NFL had already threatened to sue him if he infringed on the trademark name "Colts," still used by the Indianapolis team that fled Baltimore 10 years ago. Even though Colts' wear is among its worst sellers, the NFL is, of course, going to defend against any breach of its $2 billion-a-year merchandise empire. Mr. Speros decided to take the risk, though, after attending a Colts Corral bull roast in Glen Burnie and being awed by the reverence that area fans still hold for the name "Colts."

The inner beauty of the name dreamed up by Mr. Speros one sleepless night is that it might clear legal hurdles, yet capitalizes on the fact that the NFL can't restrict speech, press (such as news headlines) or other forms of expression.

The tee-shirts and other paraphernalia being readied may read "CFL Colts," with the Canadian league's maple leaf logo -- we have maple trees in Maryland, too, eh? -- but folks will call them the plain, old "Colts." And if former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey gets invited to spell out the name in body language for half-time ceremonies, he might even omit spelling out "CFL."

If we reach that point, Mr. Speros would have already successfully accomplished that contortion.

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