NFL seeks Modell view on Browns ownership Ravens owner intends to give positive feedback even on ex-partner Lerner

September 03, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell will meet today in New York with the special committee appointed by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to evaluate the candidates attempting to buy the new Cleveland Browns franchise.

Modell, though, contradicted a report by a league spokesman that Tagliabue had invited Modell to the meeting to comment on his former business partner, billionaire banker Al Lerner. Lerner heads one of the four groups attempting to buy the team.

Modell said he'll give his views on all four candidates.

"[Tagliabue] knows I'm qualified to speak on all the groups because they're all good friends of mine," Modell said.

Lerner, a former minority owner of the Browns who sat on the dais in Baltimore when the Browns' move was announced, distanced himself from Modell in the wake of the backlash over the move in Cleveland.

Modell conceded that he and Lerner had a parting of the ways since the move, but said he had no plans to be critical of him.

"I'm going to be positive," he said.

Modell said he is still supporting the group headed by cable TV executives Larry and Charles Dolan that includes former Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts coach Don Shula.

The other two groups are headed by developer Howard Milstein, part-owner of the New York Islanders, and developer Bart Wolstein.

Modell said he'd also be in New York on some television matters. He downplayed the significance of the meeting as he jokingly said, "I may even get a free lunch."

A league spokesman also denied a report in a Cleveland suburban newspaper that the league was asking Modell not to be critical of Lerner.

Besides meeting with Modell, the seven-man committee will review the bids by the four groups.

The 30 owners are scheduled to vote on Tuesday in Chicago on awarding the franchise after receiving the committee's report.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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