History not on city's side in quest for Rams

PRO FOOTBALL

May 08, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

Here we go again.

Baltimore, which has taken three strikes in the past 10 years in its bid to get another NFL team, now gets one more at-bat.

When the Los Angeles Rams gave the city of Anaheim the required notice last week freeing them to move in 1995, the speculation started that Baltimore will be their new home.

An Orange County Register columnist even listed Baltimore as a 2-1 favorite, with St. Louis a 5-2 second choice.

Considering Baltimore's history, however, it's not wise to list the city as a favorite.

After all, the city had shots in 1984 to get the New Orleans Saints and in 1988 to get the St. Louis Cardinals and blew both of them.

In the fall of 1984, civic leaders failed to support an effort by Baltimore businessmen to buy the Saints. They didn't want to raid another city so soon after Baltimore had lost the Colts.

In 1988, the city failed to put its best foot forward and couldn't convince Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill that a new stadium in Baltimore was better than sharing a college facility in Phoenix.

When expansion finally came last fall, Baltimore found out the city will never be awarded an expansion team as long as Paul Tagliabue is commissioner. He tilted the process against Baltimore and never gave the city serious consideration.

Now, Baltimore's only chance of getting back into the NFL is to get a team to move here.

If nothing else, the Rams now appear ready to move.

Officials in the league office even passed the word to the Los Angeles Times last week that the league won't oppose the team's move.

They said the TV networks would prefer having just one team in Los Angeles because they could then show more national games in the large Los Angeles market. This means the league is unlikely to try to stop the team from moving by legal means.

Behind the scenes, though, the league probably will try to persuade owner Georgia Frontiere not to move to Baltimore.

"We like the idea of the Redskins being a regional team," one league official said recently.

Now it's up to Orioles owner Peter Angelos to convince Frontiere that it's in her best interests to move to Baltimore.

Angelos was quoted last week at a social occasion as saying "it looks pretty good" for Baltimore.

Publicly, Angelos is much more cautious.

He said he doesn't remember making that comment, and if he did, it was in a social setting and he didn't realize it would be printed.

"All I would say [publicly] is that we're doing our best and trying real hard," Angelos said.

In any case, don't expect a fast decision.

Frontiere is not noted for making quick decisions. She often has a difficult time simply picking her photo for the team's media guide, which is why it's usually one of the last to be published.

"We're not going to do anything quickly," Rams executive vice president John Shaw said last week.

Meanwhile, Baltimore can only wait.

The ??? Raiders

While the Rams have set the wheels in motion to move next year, the other Los Angeles team -- the Raiders -- continues to act in its usual mysterious fashion.

Owner Al Davis flirted recently with Orlando and has now agreed to talk to Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker.

Davis, though, has decided he wants a "relocation fee." Something between $25 and $50 million.

Since nobody's offering that, he is likely to remain at the Los Angeles Coliseum for at least another year, almost by default.

The A League

When Mike Lynn, the former general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, started talking to CBS about forming a new league for 1995, he called it the "A League" for the lack of something better.

Once the word about the talks leaked in a trade publication, Lynn said he may stick with the "A League" title.

"Everybody likes it," he said. "It's like the A Team."

Lynn's talking about a 12-team league with corporate sponsors. Four of the cities would be New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London; Memphis, Tenn., is another likely city. There also would be a team in Texas and a team in Florida.

Lynn's main problem is that CBS wants him to have a plan in place in just three months if he's to make it a go.

He said the corporations involved will pick the rest of the cities, and the Baltimore-Washington area is a possibility. But with the Rams' situation up in the air, this area might get bypassed.

The Tobin file

Bill Tobin, the new Indianapolis Colts executive who livened up the draft by knocking Baltimore draft analyst Mel Kiper, has come up with another move that is even more baffling than his decision to bypass quarterback Trent Dilfer.

He promoted scout George Boone to the position of director of college scouting last week.

When Boone was making the draft picks for the Cardinals from 1973-91, his first-round flops (Steve Pisarkiewicz, Steve Little, Clyde Duncan and Kelly Stouffer are examples) helped cost St. Louis the franchise.

If Boone is going to have much impact in the Colts' draft, Kiper's going to have more fodder in future years.

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