Greg Glessner, former bartender and future lawyer, looked up from his law books the other day to entertain a brilliant solution to the Baltimore Ravens' off-field legal problems. Last week, Glessner noted, a federal jury ruled for Fred Bouchat, the doodling security guard from Pigtown who claimed the Ravens had inappropriately appropriated his amateur design for the team logo. Bouchat (pronounced Boo-shay) could get up to $10 million in damages before this is over and, according to the Daily Record, the Ravens could be forced to open their financial books to public scrutiny. Ouch.
"Here's the perfect resolution," said Glessner. "Earlier this year, the Ravens offered naming rights to the new stadium for $10 million. They should name the stadium 'Bouchat Field.' This would easily satisfy the suit, and the Ravens wouldn't have to pony up $10 million. Bouchat would get the recognition he desires and deserves. The stadium previously known as nothing would get an actual name, not something like Qualcomm or MCI."
(By the way, do you think Art Modell cares who buys the stadium name at this point? Will the prospect of Rapa Scrapple Field or Slomin's Shield Stadium turn him off sufficiently that he turns down money from such corporations? I don't think so. I think he'd name the place after Peter Angelos if Da Boss put up the money. Hmmm ...)
Glessner makes another point about the Bouchat suit and his unique settlement proposal: "The world would see that there can be serious consequences to picking such a stupid-looking logo."
This kid is good, isn't he?
I couldn't agree with him more - especially with the last point.
What's convincing about the Bouchat claim is that the two logos - the one he says he sent by fax to the Ravens in April 1996 and the one the team unveiled two months later - are so similar in their awkwardness. If the end result of this legal untidiness is a new, more tidy logo, that will be for the good. No knock against Fred Bouchat - I spoke to him the other night and he seems like a nice fellow; he's sincerely concerned that the Modell family is mad at him now - but we've seen better logos, haven't we?
I'm a believer in "less is more" when it comes to a sports insignia, and the Ravens logo fails that test. From a distance, the winged emblem looks like Ace Ventura's hairdo. Up close, it's way too busy - actually overwrought. I've heard this grumbling for three years. So the Bouchat suit might provide the Ravens with an opportunity to get a new look.
New look, new logo, new sales of new merchandise bearing new logo - hats, T-shirts, sweat shirts. What's not to like?
This just in ... from the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities: a handbook on etiquette. The commission published it for the first time this fall "to increase awareness of appropriate ways to speak and refer to persons with disabilities."
The politically correct ways?
"The handbook is not about being PC, unless PC is understood to mean 'polite and courteous,' " says Ivi Nelson Collier, who chairs the commission's public information and awareness committee.
According to the handbook, most men and women with disabilities do not like to be referred to as "handicapped." We shouldn't refer to people with mental disabilities as "retarded." We shouldn't use the term "wheelchair bound" because it implies a restricted existence for people who use them, a life confined. Wheelchairs actually provide mobility. They make things possible.
The handbook says we shouldn't say people with multiple sclerosis are "afflicted with" it or "suffer from" it. We shouldn't use "healthy" in contrast with "disabled" because, the handbook says, " 'healthy' implies that the person with a disability is unhealthy; many people with disabilities have excellent health."
The handbook explores what it calls "myths" about people with disabilities: They're brave and courageous. ("Some are and some are not, just as with everyone in the world.") They're happier with their own kind. ("True enough, since that would include everyone on the planet.") They don't like children asking about their disabilities. ("Reasonable interest is to be expected," the handbook says of curious kids, "and most people with disabilities do not mind respectful questions; however, some do mind.")
Another myth: "Nondisabled people are obligated to take care of their fellow citizens with disabilities." Fact: "This is untrue, but less abuse of designated parking spaces would be greatly appreciated."
The book also has dos and don'ts for prospective employers and a brief explanation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. I found it helpful. The commission can be reached at 410-887-3580 or 410-887-2799 (TTY).
Mfume for mayor?
When he campaigned in Baltimore last weekend for votes for fellow Democrats, Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP and former congressman, found no shortage of people asking him to run for mayor next year. Who could be surprised? Watch this space.
TJIDAol.com is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. Readers also may contact him at 410-332-6166 or by mail at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
Pub Date: 11/09/98