Probable Eagles owner has lot of family backing

March 31, 1994|By S.A. Paolantonio and Tim Panaccio | S.A. Paolantonio and Tim Panaccio,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

PHILADELPHIA -- Don't fret, Philadelphia Eagles fans.

When he buys the team for $185 million, Hollywood producer Jeffrey Lurie will have plenty of money left to invest in players, facilities and the front office to keep the Eagles a strong force in the highly competitive NFC East.

That's what Lurie's Boston-based financial adviser, Ed Rudman, said yesterday, confirming that the sale of the team by Norman Braman, a Miami car dealer, was imminent.

"The people of Philadelphia will not have to worry," Rudman said. "The family has the resources to back Jeffrey up in this deal. He's very well-set."

Lurie, 42, is the multimillion-dollar heir to the Smith family publishing and movie-house empire based in Boston. Rudman said the money "is not coming from the Smith side of the family per se," but said Lurie was putting up enough equity to make the debt manageable.

Rudman, confirming the sale price of $185 million, said the financing was being handled by the Bank of Boston, which put together the funding for the purchase of the New England Patriots for $155 million in January.

Robert Kraft, a Boston businessman who bought the Patriots, reportedly put up $50 million in family equity -- or a little less than a third of the purchase price. By that formula, Lurie would need to put up a little more than $60 million in equity. "Everything is done, certainly from our end," Rudman said by telephone. "All the financing is in place. We're just waiting on Mr. Braman's OK on a few things and his signature. The deal is done otherwise."

On his first day back at his Miami office after a three-week cruise in the Far East, Braman declined to talk with reporters. "Same position, same everything, no comment," he said.

When asked why he was selling the Eagles, Braman pretended not to hear the question. Several questions later, Braman turned and smiled.

"No comment," he said.

Braman spent most of the morning huddled with two business associates. Shortly after noon, he emerged from the meeting looking weary.

As Braman left for home at 5:30 p.m., he still wasn't talking. Asked about his trip to the Far East, Braman said, "The trip was fabulous. I'd be happy to fill you in on it."

In Philadelphia, Braman's daughter, Eagles vice president Suzi L. Braman, said that as of now, it looked as if she was going to remain in the team's front office when the ownership changed hands.

"I'm going to be staying," she said.

It appeared that football matters were on hold at Veterans Stadium. Sources close to the Minnesota Vikings said the Eagles were not prepared to complete a trade for defensive end Chris Doleman until the sale was final.

Don't look for ousted Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson to coach the Eagles any time soon. In a Dallas interview, Johnson was asked about speculation that the Eagles' new owner might be looking for a new coach.

"Do I even need to respond?" Johnson said with a laugh. "Philadelphia is too far from the equator."

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