Some of Baltimore's players shrugged with indifference. Some sounded happy about the change. But everyone pretty much agreed that the team's new nickname -- Stallions -- is a huge improvement over the Baltimore Football Club.
"It's great to have a name. Baltimore Football Club sounded like a rugby team," guard John Earle said. "Now, we have our own identity, along with the horse logo, which is good. Now, I can say I play for the Stallions. That sounds so much better."
Rookie linebacker Jason Bryant drove home yesterday to Harrisburg, Pa., where his family and friends congratulated him on the team's new name.
"People knew all about it, which is good. They were saying how they saw the owner [Jim Speros] on TV riding a horse," Bryant said. "I like the name. I thought of Stallions the first time I saw the logo."
"It sure is better to be the Stallions than the CFLs or the BFC. It was annoying seeing BFC in the paper every day," rookie quarterback Dan Crowley said. "There shouldn't be a professional football organization without a name."
Kick returner Chris Wright said having a new name makes it feel like a new era to him. "It was strange to be known as a club instead of a team. I'm glad we've got our own name, and I'm glad to be part of it. Now, we can go undefeated from here on as the Stallions."
As for veteran offensive tackle Shar Pourdanesh, the new name carries little weight one way or the other with him.
"It doesn't mean a thing to me," Pourdanesh said. "It doesn't change any aspect of the game for me. I still have to go out there and block. Maybe after the season, I'll reflect on the name change."
New name in town
Speros was all smiles last night, partly because of some encouraging attendance figures.
A crowd of 31,016 showed up for the home opener, still well below last year's average of 37,348 and a bit shy of the 1994 regular season low of 31,172. But, considering that by the end of Monday barely 20,000 tickets had been sold, Speros was happy with the turnout.
"We sold about 4,000 tickets during the week, and we expected a big walk-up crowd tonight. Since we opened at 8:30, we were averaging between 100 and 150 tickets per hour," Speros said. "I think coming up with the new name sparked people up a little bit, and with this weather, you can't pick a better night for football."
Small world department
Before coaching in the World League, and eventually the Canadian Football League--first in Sacramento--San Antonio head coach Kay Stephenson spent a little over eight seasons in the National Football League.
Most of those years were spent with the Buffalo Bills, the last three as head coach. In Stephenson's final two years, 1984 and 1985, Stephenson's strength coach was a guy named Jim Speros.
When asked if he was surprised that Speros eventually became the owner of a football team, Stephenson said, "He was a real bright, ambitious guy back then. I'm not surprised."
When you are the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, you can afford to be fashionably late.
Joe Smith, the former Maryland player, was supposed to perform the coin toss last night. Instead, Smith and former Wake Forest star Randolph Childress didn't show until near the end of the first quarter.
"Mike Anderson [a partner of Len Elmore, who represents Smith and Childress] got pulled over on the freeway," Smith said. "We were trying to make it here and we got pulled over."
Childress, who was driving in a separate car with Smith behind Anderson, said: "We tried to get here too fast. I didn't think we were going that fast. We didn't get a ticket, but we came off an exit too fast."
This isn't the first time Smith has been late to make an appearance.
"I was supposed to throw it out [at an Orioles game] but I got there a little late, too," Smith said.
As far as CFL football, Smith is learning the game.
"Actually, this is my first game," Smith said. 'I don't even know the rules. Somebody just explained the rules to me. I really don't get to see much football live. It seems very exciting. The crowd is really into it."
Another former Maryland star, Walt Williams of the Sacramento
Kings, joined Smith and Childress at the game.