Orioles owner's bid for an NFL team could be hurt by stand during strike

April 23, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

If Peter Angelos has made enemies among his baseball partners, how is he likely to be received by the National Football League?

It depends on whom you ask.

Mr. Angelos has approached a number of NFL teams, offering to buy outright or assume a minority stake if a team is moved here. He has met with the NFL commissioner and team owners and, although others have expressed interest, has essentially assumed the lead in the city's continuing effort to replace the Colts, who moved to Indianapolis 11 years ago.

Mr. Angelos has brought a vitality and financial wherewithal that the city's NFL effort has lacked. But even supporters worry privately that the conservative league may find his style too abrasive and look for an excuse to keep him out.

"Certainly the owners want someone who would be a compatible partner and would not have the appearance of going out on their own," said Thomas Guilfoil, general counsel for the Arizona Cardinals.

Mr. Angelos acknowledges that some people believe his baseball stand will affect a football application.

"There are those who believe that. I choose to believe otherwise," he said. "I think speaking your mind is OK as long as you are standing on principle." NFL owners are reluctant to talk about Mr. Angelos on the record, for fear of "prejudging" his potential application, something that could fall afoul of antitrust laws.

Those who have spoken offer mixed reviews, with some expressing concern about a possible lawsuit from Mr. Angelos, about his baseball investment -- cross-ownership is prohibited by NFL rules -- and his stated desire to move a franchise.

"I don't even know the man, and I wouldn't want to prejudge him," said Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell.

He noted, however, the cross-ownership prohibition, to which only one temporary exemption has been granted: Wayne Huizenga owns baseball's Florida Marlins, hockey's Florida Panthers and football's Miami Dolphins.

In general, Mr. Modell said, the league values solidarity among its owners. "We try to get as much consensus and do as much by consensus as possible," he said.

In an interview earlier this year, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, said, "I'm very interested in getting people such as Mr. Angelos involved in the NFL. I would be excited about the interest shown by Mr. Angelos."

Ernie Accorsi, an assistant general manager of the New York Giants who previously worked for the Orioles under Mr. Angelos, predicted the NFL still would want Mr. Angelos because of his accomplishments with the Orioles and his principled positions.

"I know there is a purity about him, and whatever his position, I think any sports owner would respect that," Mr. Accorsi said.

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