ROSEMONT, Ill. -- John Kent Cooke, son of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and the club's executive vice president, said last night he has never opposed Baltimore's NFL expansion bid and wouldn't speak out against the city.
"I've never spoken against Baltimore or Maryland," he said after listening to the presentations of all five finalists. "I'm not going to speak out against Baltimore. I will do what I think is best for the league."
He added: "I love Baltimore. I love Maryland. I love Virginia. I've got my boat in Annapolis, and I sail the Chesapeake. In their [video] presentation, they had Thomas Point Lighthouse [south of Annapolis]. I sail by it every weekend."
Cooke, who is representing the Redskins because his father rarely attends NFL meetings, said he wouldn't decide how he would vote until he heard the recommendation of the expansion and finance committees.
Those committees gave their recommendations last night, asking that the Carolina Panthers be approved as the first expansion team since 1976 and that the league's decision on the second expansion team be delayed until Nov. 30.
Cooke and the rest of the 28 owners unanimously approved those recommendations.
Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis are the remaining contestants for the second team.
"I do not intend to speak against any applicant," Cooke said before the vote. "I think they all were fine applicants. My decision will be what is best in my opinion for the league. I expect every other owner to do the same thing. That's the way it should be."
Baltimore's proximity to Washington often has been described as the weakness of the city's bid.
Rankin Smith, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, has said that John Kent Cooke has let it be known the Redskins don't want a team in Baltimore.
Cooke denied he has spoken against Baltimore.
"I haven't said any of that. That's not true," he said.
Cooke's comments weren't a surprise, because the Redskins have made no attempt to market the team in Baltimore. They have sold out every non-strike game since 1966 and have a waiting list of 40,000 for season tickets.
Despite speculation that the Redskins would oppose Baltimore, Cooke said, "I haven't read any of that.
"As far as I'm concerned, the whole area is like our family. I'm not going to speak against anybody in our family, either. It's my home. It's hard to describe. It's like my front yard and my back yard."
When he was asked if he thought a team in Baltimore would hurt the Redskins, he said: "I didn't say that one way or another. I just told you what I intend to do."
Cooke said all five of the cities gave impressive presentations.
"They all knew what they were talking about," he said.