Seller Braman still sold on Baltimore, too

FOOTBALL

April 10, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

Now that Norman Braman has agreed to sell the Philadelphia Eagles, there's still one football game he's eager to see: the first game played in Baltimore by the city's NFL team.

Braman isn't deterred by the fact that Baltimore doesn't have an NFL team. He promised last January that the city will get one and he said last week that he still thinks it's going to happen.

"I still think Baltimore is going to wind up with a team. I hope I'm right. When that day happens and that first game occurs, I'll be there. That, I promise you," he said.

He added: "I have great affection for everyone up there. I still feel, in the words of Leo Durocher, that you were robbed."

Braman was referring to the fact that Baltimore was bypassed in the NFL expansion derby for two smaller cities, Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., even though it was offering a better deal.

Braman won't speculate on which teams might move to Baltimore, but the city of Anaheim certainly is doing its best to antagonize the Los Angeles Rams.

In the latest move last week, the Magnolia School District voted to go to court to evict the Rams from their training facility in a converted school.

Jack White, the Anaheim city attorney, said that doesn't mean the city won't try to keep them.

"I think we're going to make a very serious effort to put some proposals on the table," he said.

White concedes, though, that it may not be enough to keep the team.

He said: "I'm not sure Anaheim can compete with places that are willing to just open up an unlimited pocketbook to them. My understanding of the Baltimore situation is that the deal is backed by a state lottery. We can't compete with that if that's the case."

Meanwhile, the speculation is continuing in Los Angeles that the Rams will have a new address next year.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote in The Sporting News this week that "the Rams are gone" and added that Baltimore "makes the most sense" as their new home. He said St. Louis is the other top contender, but is hurt by the tangled lease situation there.

If Plaschke is right, Braman may yet get to see that game in Baltimore.

Goodbye

Although Braman is popular in Baltimore because he was the only NFL owner to support the city's expansion bid, he will be not be missed in Philadelphia. Fans there were all but dancing in the streets when Braman agreed to sell to Jeff Lurie.

The popular perception is that Lurie will spend more money than Braman, who lost such standouts as Reggie White and Clyde Simmons.

Lurie, though, will run into a salary cap problem. The Eagles had a $41 million player payroll last year. This year, they've got to cut it to $34 million to get under the cap.

Braman brushes off all the criticism he's gotten. "That doesn't bother me. It's been a marvelous nine years. I enjoyed it," he said.

In reference to the fact that his 1993 payroll was higher than the 1994 cap, he couldn't resist one jab at his critics in Philadelphia.

"Nobody's ever accused the press people there of being geniuses. Not too many people there can add one and one together," he said. He quickly added, "That's Philly. But I love them."

The quarterback

Mark Rypien finds himself in an unusual situation during the Washington Redskins' first mini-camp of the Norv Turner era this weekend.

"I'm geared toward playing here," Rypien said. "That's my first priority."

But he knows he may not be with the team when training camp opens in July.

Even if he's willing to take a pay cut of his $3 million salary -- he says he's willing to discuss that -- he knows he could be the next veteran to depart if the Redskins get a rookie quarterback in the first round of the draft.

"You hate for it to happen to you as an individual, but it has happened to prominent individuals here so you think the way things are going, you may be next in line," he said.

If Rypien does wind up leaving, he sounds as if he won't knock the Redskins.

"I don't think there's any way to say you're mad and disgusted with the Redskins," he said. "I think they're one of the victims of the collective bargaining agreement."

RF Meanwhile, Rypien can only wait to find out where his future lies.

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