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League seeking Browns solution NFL can't agree on best path to take

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NFL officials meeting this week on the league's probable loss of a franchise in Cleveland discussed a number of possibilities -- including passing a resolution of intent to return a team to the city -- but arrived at no consensus, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The high-level summit, which included NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the chairmen of the league's broadcast and finance committees, was convened to address the uproar caused by the Browns' move to Baltimore.

Among the options discussed: getting another team for the city or passing a resolution demonstrating an intent to eventually move a team there, as the league has done for Los Angeles.

Sources said the discussion touched on a lot of possibilities. Tagliabue told the panel that he had not yet analyzed Cleveland's stadium renovation package, which the Browns say is inadequate for any team. Tagliabue met last week with Cleveland Mayor Michael White.

Browns executive vice president James Bailey attended, and the conversation focused on getting another team in Cleveland rather than on keeping the Browns there. That will be the subject of two meetings. The stadium and finance committees will hold a joint meeting Jan. 4 to review the relocation application. Both the team and Cleveland's mayor will be given an opportunity to make presentations.

The full ownership is scheduled to vote Jan. 17.

Also attending Wednesday's meeting: NFL president Neil Austrian, Broncos owner and broadcast committee chairman Pat Bowlen and Saints owner and finance committee chairman Tom Benson. Browns part-owner Alfred Lerner has been working behind the scenes to see if another team can be moved to Cleveland by shoring up the city's stadium financing plan and facilitating a relocation if necessary, sources said.

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