For Cass, taking job as Ravens president was `easy decision'

Ex-D.C. lawyer replaces D. Modell

act is Bisciotti's first as majority owner

Pro Football

April 14, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens officially named Dick Cass team president yesterday, a position the former Washington lawyer didn't have to think about too long before accepting.

"It took me about two seconds to respond to Steve's question of would I be interested," Cass said of the offer from new majority owner Steve Bisciotti. "Easy decision."

Actually, Cass has been on the job for weeks, serving as the Ravens' primary representative during the Terrell Owens hearing last month and accompanying Bisciotti and former Ravens owner Art Modell to league meetings in February and March.

Cass' appointment marks Bisciotti's first act since purchasing the majority share of the Ravens from Modell six days ago.

"His legal expertise, his working knowledge of the business, his relationships at the league office and the respect he has already earned around the league will be a significant asset for the franchise," Bisciotti said in a statement.

Cass' background includes more than 30 years as a lawyer, an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a degree from Yale Law School.

"We're thrilled," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Dick has a lot of experience as to how this league works. His background is going to lend himself, as we go forward in any number of instances as we've already found out. Having a legal opinion on board at any giving time is going to be very important."

Cass, 58, has spent the past 32 years at the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, where he became a partner in 1979. Cass will head the administrative and business side of the Ravens and serve as Bisciotti's primary adviser.

"I came from a law firm that has about 550 lawyers, and I was on the management committee of the law firm," Cass said. "I managed a group that had probably 150 lawyers. So I'm accustomed to managing people.

"My principal responsibility [with the Ravens] will be on the business side. I'll be involved in the football side only insofar as helping set budgets. I'll be sitting in on meetings and personnel meetings, but I'm not going to have any meaningful input in that regard."

Cass succeeds David Modell, who had served as president since the team moved from Cleveland in 1996. Modell has assisted Cass during the transition period.

Cass said one of his early goals is to improve M&T Bank Stadium by building more bathrooms in the upper deck, putting more televisions in the concourses and supplying more information on other NFL games.

Though working with the Ravens might be relatively new for Cass, he is a veteran when it comes to league issues.

Cass represented Jerry Jones in the acquisition of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Stadium in the late 1980s and continued to serve as an adviser for a number of years.

Cass also advised the NFL during the early 1990s on the collective bargaining agreement with the players association. Moreover, Cass represented the estate of Jack Kent Cooke in the sale of the Washington Redskins to Daniel Snyder in 1999.

The son of a Coast Guard officer and one of four children, Cass spent his formative years in Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, California, Florida and Massachusetts before graduating from Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy, where he was student body president and captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.

"I love the sports business," Cass said. "I love being involved in football. The part of [law] practice I always enjoyed the most was doing sports work, particularly football work. So I really leaped at the opportunity."

NOTES: The Ravens will continue to hold training camp at McDaniel College through 2010 after the sides agreed to a six-year contract extension yesterday. The deal includes the installation of synthetic turf - the same Sportexe Momentum Turf used at M&T Bank Stadium - at the college's main athletic field.

"We're excited about extending the relationship with McDaniel," Billick said. "I think it's important that you establish camp away from your regular training facility. This is the perfect location for us because it is a camp mentality. We do feel special up there. It's great the fans have the access they do, and the way they've responded. That's something that I will fight for as long as I'm here."

The Ravens will hold their first practice July 30. Players are scheduled to report a day earlier.

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