Cass gets a share of credit

Ravens president worked with Steelers on NFL revenue plan

March 10, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

After labor peace was achieved Wednesday night, the NFL cited the Ravens as one of the franchises that provided a much-needed helping hand.

Ravens president Dick Cass and nine other team executives were singled out by commissioner Paul Tagliabue as key figures in achieving a collective bargaining agreement extension through the 2011 season.

Over a lunch meeting Wednesday afternoon, Cass and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Art Rooney devised a revenue-sharing concept called the "Ravens-Steelers plan." It was modified with a competing alternative called the "Jets-Patriots plan," which eventually became the proposal that was adopted.

Under the new deal, the 15 highest-revenue teams will contribute $850 million to $900 million to a fund that the lower-revenue teams will draw from.

"I believe the teams stretched financially to get the deal done with the union," said Cass, who became the Ravens' president in April 2004. "Once that deal was done with the union, we then had to agree among ourselves how to make sure we maintained competitive balance in the league. The only way to do that is to give more money to some of the lower-revenue teams.

"To try to take some money from one team to give to another is not easy. There's a lot of difficult issues involved with that. We have been discussing these issues for two years now. I think it took the pressure of the union agreement to try to bring everyone together."

Cass then chuckled when it was brought up that labor peace was partly gained from a plan devised with the Ravens' fiercest rival.

"In terms of amount of revenues, we're [Ravens and Steelers] fairly similar. We have some common interest when looking at league issues," Cass said. "Beyond that, we only exchange niceties before games. I'm sure they feel the same."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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