Neigh-sayer brings era to an end

July 08, 1995|By KEN ROSENTHAL

What, no lawsuit?

Jim Speros must be stunned.

The party is over for the only owner in sports whose marketing strategy was to get sued.

And the fun is over for the only team in professional sports that receives more attention for its name than its game.

Stallions, it is.

Finally. Mercifully. And peacefully, too.

The NFL trademarked Stallions for an expansion team in St. Louis, but the league is so tired of Speros' act, it won't grant him the publicity of another lawsuit.

Speros said that wasn't his goal, but he took a parting shot at the NFL yesterday, saying, "You can't just tie up a name without using it."

"We wish them the best of luck," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, dripping with sincerity.

And so a glorious chapter ends for the CFL Colts, make that CFLs, make that Baltimore Football Club, make that Stallions.

The name is etched in stone, unless Speros finds a corporate sponsor with a better suggestion.

You laugh?

Speros is so shameless, he rode into Memorial Stadium yesterday on a horse, making like Robert E.

Lee in an expensive suit and designer sunglasses.

He's so shameless, he would have named the team "Mustangs," if only he could have enlisted the Ford Motor Co. as a promotional partner.

The Baltimore Ford Mustangs.

Hard to believe Ford turned it down.

"Mustangs are selling very well," Speros said, laughing at himself. "They didn't need my assistance in Baltimore.

"They complimented me for maybe trying to help their sales. But they said right now, they can't keep them [the cars] on the lot, and inventory is backed up for three years.

"They didn't say no, but they certainly didn't look at it as a positive sales reinforcement. They think they have enough publicity."

Really?

We thought Ford needed the CFL to overcome Chrysler and GM.

Whatever, for all of Speros antics, he's completely harmless, and his heart usually is in the right place. Besides, it's not as if he's doing something important, like running an NFL team.

Stallions? The name would have been perfect from the start, but as we all know, it was better business to fight the NFL, and Speros was right to milk the moment.

By the way, you can still shout C-O-L-T-S.

Speros says.

CFLs? That name was an original, but the CFL might not be called the CFL much be longer, so it wasn't exactly a keeper.

Baltimore Football Club? Speros hadn't yet investigated the Kentucky Fried Chicken connection -- BFC with KFC. Of course, if the Colonel antes up, he's flexible.

Colts? Oh yeah, the Colts.

That's how this whole mess got started.

Speros said he didn't want another court fight with Stallions, but his little horse ride yesterday had historical precedent, going all the way back to Year One, BFC.

The last time Speros pulled his blazing saddles act was before last year's home opener, when he was challenging the NFL over the Colts name.

Deja sue?

It sure seemed like Speros was picking a fight -- he noted ominously that Stallions was a "business risk." But he sounded genuinely relieved to learn that the NFL would not sue him again.

"A sigh of relief," he called it.

So, Stallions, it is.

Speros announced breathlessly that the Colts Marching Band would play on -- the apocalypse could strike, and the band would play on. But he also said Stallions was the name for a new generation of fans.

That, evidently, was the Pepsi pitch.

Speros said he wanted to seize the name before a team in the Arena League or World League could "grab onto" it. And he said he would teach Leonard "Big Wheel" Burrier -- he of C-O-L-T-S fame -- how to spell Stallions.

"No problem!" Big Wheel shouted, confident he could handle the extra four letters.

So, that's it for the name game. CFLs edged Stallions, 37 percent to 35, in a Sun poll that was published Dec. 16. The next day, Speros said he would stick with no name, fearing legal action if he went to Stallions. But he reserved the right to change his mind.

Buy those T-shirts quickly -- if the Stallions don't beat San Antonio tonight, the name could go the way of the Orioles' gray caps. They were 0-1 as the Baltimore Football Club, and look what happened.

"I truthfully feel it's the best name for the club," Speros said.

Until further notice.

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