Schaefer: a perfect pitch to NFL


ROSEMONT, Ill. -- What Gov. William Donald Schaefer had to say to the NFL owners in what could be termed his "state of the franchise" speech left his listeners impressed.

Applause is never appropriate at presentations of this kind, but one owner, Al Davis of the Los Angeles Raiders, came to his feet and said he wished he had recorded the speech so governors all over America could hear it.

It took Schaefer only one minute and 15 seconds to put Baltimore's bid in perspective.

Schaefer first wrote the message in his own handwriting and, after Baltimore's participation was concluded, agreed to repeat the sentiments he conveyed.

Here's what the governor told the NFL owners:

"I wonder how I can say in one minute something that will be different and add something I want you to know.

"One: I know what franchises mean to a city. Prestige, jobs, tax benefits, new businesses.

"Two: I have always had a long and intense interest in pro sports. One of my first actions after being elected governor was to propose and pass legislation allowing us to build a baseball and football stadium.

"Three: This is important. I want all of you to make money and have a successful franchise. This is important to me because all of you are businessmen as well as sportsmen.

"Four: Economic impact is important, but there is another factor, and this is personal. It's called community pride. I want to make Maryland and Baltimore a whole and complete community with museums, schools, theaters, hospitals, homes and a football team."

Then came his concluding sentence. He left the owners this: "I was there when the team left, and I want to be there on the happy day when the franchise returns."

It was a concise, penetrating minute and 15 seconds. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke told a news conference shortly after the Baltimore presentation:

"The governor had about a minute and 15 seconds to make a presentation. I thought it as the best minute-and-15-second sales pitch I've ever heard in any form in my life. I thought he appealed to a lot of different interests. He appealed to the fan, community interests, he appealed to NFL tradition. I think the outcome of their decision is going to be impacted fairly heavily by what he had to say."

L As it turned out, it wasn't enough, at least not last night.

But as strong as the governor's words were, many owners may still remember them come Nov. 30.

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