Speros will ride out season without a name, if needed


In a week when he made Sports Illustrated and ESPN for his legal fight to use the Colts name, Jim Speros said he is prepared to ride his horse with no name for the rest of the season.

"I definitely can go the whole year without a name," the owner of Baltimore's nameless Canadian Football League team said. "I'm probably leaning toward that. We've shown the NFL it may be able to take the name from us, but it can't stop people from calling us what they want."

Speros scored a public relations coup last week by getting a 7 1/2 -minute segment on ESPN on Monday night, then a four-page spread in Sports Illustrated later in the week.

"The fans and media understand Baltimore is a great city," he said. "It was a good week. I think we've become a national story."

The national story takes a distinct turn on Aug. 3, when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit hears Speros' bid to get a preliminary injunction lifted.

The clock is running, and CFL commissioner Larry Smith knows it.

"We have a bit of strategy with Jim's legal people and himself," Smith said. "We'll see how it unfolds. We're in no rush. We realized from the start the importance of the name. At the same time, somewhere down the road we have to make some decisions."

Before the Aug. 3 hearing, Speros said he will call NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue one more time in an attempt to resolve the issue. Tagliabue has not returned Speros' calls.

One avenue Speros wants to pursue is naming the team the Maryland Colts. "That's been discussed as a possibility, internally with the team," he said. "I'd like to find out if there's any less or more confusion with that name."

Other than that, Speros said he won't speculate on alternatives, because it plays into the NFL's hands. But if he ultimately is forced to select another name, he said it'll be through the voice of the fans.

"If it happens, it'll be the fans who choose the name for the team," he said. "I want a name that represents the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

"But at this point in time, if I can't have Colts, it's better to have no name at all."

It's later than they think

Despite having a one-year jump on three new expansion teams, the Sacramento Gold Miners might be the most vulnerable American franchise in the CFL. Playing in an unadorned 24,000-seat stadium, the Gold Miners drew only 14,816 in their season opener in Week 1.

When they pulled out a 25-22 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 2, team owner Fred Anderson conceded the uphill fight he faces in Sacramento.

"This was a must-win game for us," he said. "It would have been a disaster had we gone 0-2, gone to Las Vegas [for last night's game] and lost and then come home. I don't think the fans would come out, and as everybody knows, I lost $4 million last year. I'm prepared to lose $2 million this year.

"If I lose significantly more than that, regardless of what I want to do, I'm not in a position to lose that much money. My pockets are not that deep."

Already, there is talk the Gold Miners might move to Los Angeles to help entice a network TV contract.

Can't touch that

When Baltimore held a tryout camp at Johns Hopkins University last March, Gerry Collins, a former Penn State running back, was among those who turned out. Although Collins was impressive, Baltimore couldn't touch him because the Ottawa Rough Riders held his negotiating rights.

This week, the 5-foot-7, 194-pound Collins resurfaced in Ottawa's backfield as a replacement for injured Michael Richardson, the CFL's leading rusher the past two seasons for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Collins produced 231 all-purpose yards, including 128 rushing on a 6.4 average, in a 22-21 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. He also caught six passes for 74 yards. Cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago, Collins was playing his first game in 1 1/2 years.

Perhaps what surprised Collins most was his receiving. "I never caught six balls in my life," he said.

Richardson is out for at least a month with a pulled quad muscle in his leg.

Doing it in style

British Columbia Lions place-kicker Lui Passaglia celebrated his record-setting 289th CFL game with a 41-yard field goal to help beat Hamilton in overtime, 42-25, Thursday. Passaglia, 40, who joined the Lions in 1976, surpassed the previous record of 288 games set by Ron Lancaster, who played quarterback with Ottawa and the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1960-1978.

He caught on

One night later, Saskatchewan slotback Ray Elgaard, 35, broke the CFL's all-time receiving record of 706 catches, set by Hamilton's Rocky DiPietro from 1978 to 1991. Elgaard made three catches in Saskatchewan's game against Toronto on Friday night to boost his career total to 709.

Elgaard has played his entire career with the Roughriders, starting in 1983. Baltimore coach Don Matthews coached him from 1991 to 1993.

"Ray is not the typical slot," Matthews said. "He's 6-3, 225. He has made an art of using the waggle motion to his advantage. He gets open with his strength and smarts. To get a record like that, you've got to stay healthy, and be in an offense that throws to you."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad