Baltimore team officials began preliminary meetings last night with focus groups and NFL Properties about acquiring a name for the city's new football team.
Also, Baltimore coach Ted Marchibroda continued his search for a defensive coordinator, and has interest in Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Marvin Lewis and Carolina Panthers secondary coach George Catavolos.
Baltimore vice president David Modell said the focus groups will be considering names from The Sun expansion poll in 1993 and the recent name poll from Channel 45, as well as entertaining new ideas. Modell reiterated yesterday that there is no time frame.
"We're going to follow the course that we planned, and not get caught up in the time constraints," said Modell, son of team owner Art Modell. "Basically, the focus groups will be managed by NFL Properties, but I will have a hands-on approach. We'll have a moderator who will lead the discussions.
"We want to get a texture feel from the community about certain names. We're using some old suggestions, and I'm sure people can extrapolate that names like Ravens, Bombers, Bulldogs and Marauders are on the list."
So is the name Colts, according to Modell. Art Modell has been negotiating with Indianapolis general manager Jimmy Irsay over the name since the first week of February, and reportedly would pay as much as $5 million to return the name to Baltimore. The final offer could come at the league meetings in mid-March, a team official said.
Art Modell said no figure has been discussed with Irsay.
"There has been some discussion, but I'm not holding out too much hope for the return of the name," said David Modell.
Marchibroda interviewed more assistants during the weekend and yesterday at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio. Catavolos, 50, coached with the Indianapolis Colts from 1984 through 1993 before joining the Panthers. Lewis, 38, has been with the Steelers since 1992.
Marchibroda said he will not look to the college ranks for a de- afensive coordinator, but confirmed that the league has a March 1 deadline for hiring assistants away from other teams.
"We'll have it done before the end of the week," said Marchibroda. "Considering the delays we've had, I think we're on schedule."
Marchibroda also said the team's move is still on schedule for mid-March, with the franchise expected to be at full production in Baltimore by April 1.