Relatively close, but not related

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- A key official in the NFL's expansion process is related to one of the investors from the winning city of Jacksonville, Fla.

Joe Ellis, director of club administration, is a first cousin of Jeb Bush, a member of the investment group led by J. Wayne Weaver. Bush is a son of former President George Bush and is a candidate for governor in Florida. He holds a minority share in the Weaver group.

Weaver's group yesterday won the league's 30th franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ellis said he did not recuse himself from the deliberations because, "It never swayed my opinion one way or the other."

Several representatives of some of the losing bidders, however, said that the relationship could have given Jacksonville access to inside information and should have been disclosed.

"I think they might have told us," said Mathias J. DeVito, a coordinator of Baltimore's NFL bid.

Ellis said he never provided his cousin with any information. "It's not the case," he said.

Roger Goodell, NFL vice president of operations, said, "That had nothing to do with the decision. Since it wasn't a factor there wasn't any sense disclosing it."

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