Clancy calmly awaits Vikings word Ruling on ownership expected next week

Pro Football

March 12, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has spent five weeks and two hearings studying novelist Tom Clancy's bid to buy the Minnesota Vikings, but Clancy doesn't seem concerned about the delay.

"Everything has a procedure to it, I'm not going to get upset," Clancy said yesterday after Tagliabue held a second meeting for 6 1/2 hours in his offices in New York.

A league spokesman said Tagliabue will finally rule next week on the claim of current team president Roger Headrick that he has the right of first refusal to match Clancy's offer for the team.

Headrick is one of 10 owners of the team and the other nine have agreed to sell to Clancy.

Four of those owners were called to New York yesterday for the second hearing. Headrick is contending that since they are considering joining Clancy's group, their main goal is ousting him. Neither Clancy nor Marc Ganis, who helped negotiate the deal, attended either hearing although Headrick did.

But Ganis said the issue is whether or not the sale was an open bidding process won by the highest bidder.

Even if Tagliabue rules for Clancy, it will be several weeks before the owners vote to approve the sale and Clancy can take control. It will be not be on the agenda at the annual owners' meeting in Orlando, Fla., in two weeks.

"It's like the settlement for buying a house," Clancy said of the length process.

Ganis hinted that he and Clancy will take legal action if Tagliabue rules in favor of Headrick, who has been one of his close allies in league matters.

Ganis pointed out that a noted Chicago litigator, Scott Szala, is representing them. Although he wouldn't speculate on the possibility of litigation, Ganis said, "We don't want to threaten anything, but we have a fiduciary responsibility to protect our legal rights."

When the colorful Clancy was asked if a lawsuit was a posssibility, he said, "You don't put a hand grenade under a can of beans. I'm mainly concerned right now about getting my damn book done."

His next novel is due to his publisher at the end of the month.

There has also been speculation that Clancy has been unhappy with Headrick's spending spree.

Counting Jake Reed, who was signed at the end of last year, Headrick has committed $93.1 million, including $24.5 million in signing bonuses to retain four players. The other three are defensive lineman John Randle, tackle Todd Steussie and running back Robert Smith. That's almost half the slightly more than $200 million Clancy bid for the team.

"I haven't said anything about it," Clancy said in declining to comment on Headrick's moves.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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