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TAXPAYERS MAY STOP WOOING OF FRANCHISES

SOME FOOTBALL NOTES collected while wondering whatever happened to Roosevelt Leaks. . . .

The era of franchise free agency may be gearing down, judging by two recent elections in California.

Lionel Wilson, mayor of Oakland for 12 years, was forced into a three-man runoff by voters incensed at his aggressive role in setting up a $600 million sweetheart package to lure the Raiders back to his city. Wilson acknowledged that his Raider support hurt him at the polls.

In Irwindale, Calif., unknown Fred Barosa upset councilman Joseph Breceda, who supported an unsuccessful $110 million stadium bid to lure the Raiders. Al Davis, the Raider major domo, took $10 million of Irwindale's guaranteed money, nevertheless.

In another vote in California, the Los Angeles Coliseum was protected by a preservation law. That means it can't be ripped apart to suit the Raiders, at least without the approval of a state authority.

Davis now seems boxed in. There is a belief that the Raiders will play in Oakland this year, accepting an offer drastically scaled down to suit the mood of the voters.

In fact, Davis has agreed to a $1 surcharge on Raider tickets if he moves to Oakland. The surcharge will go toward the city's beleaguered schools.

Put the elections together with the intention of the NFL to expand by four teams in this decade and the overheated pursuit of existing franchises -- including the one which plays in Rich Stadium -- is cooled down decidedly. The politicians now understand there is peril in reckless pursuit of sports franchises.
When the Jim Kelly golf tournament was held at Brierwood two weeks ago, National Football League Properties had their man on hand, attempting to romance the star quarterbacks in the tourney to sign exclusive contracts, tying them to NFL Properties merchandising.

The league's merchandising arm expects to make $800 million in licensing fees this year. Recently, it began to send out advance royalty checks ranging from $20,000 to $120,000 to the league's top players.

Properties' rival in licensing merchandise is the NFL Players' Association. The decertified union has taken in about $4 million over the last few years through licensing, but the individual players never see a dime of it. That money is used to finance the association.

Jerry Rice and Roger Craig of the 49ers and Randall Cunningham of the Eagles already signed with Properties. Barry Sanders of Detroit received a $100,000 check pending his signing a contract.
The Green Bay Packers are instituting a tailgating policy that is sure to be observed with interest by other teams.

The Pack no longer will allow fans to enter parking lots as early as four hours before game time, the previous policy. They will not be allowed to linger in the parking lots indefinitely after the game either.

The moves are aimed at alcohol abuse and drunken driving.
You won't have Ben ("He was givin' him the business!") Dreith to kick around any longer. At least not so prominently.

Dreith, a referee in the NFL and before that the AFL for the last 30 seasons, has been demoted to line judge. So has Fred Wyant, another veteran referee.

Dreith is not going quietly. He publicly criticized the grading system and consistency of Art McNally, the league's retiring supervisor of officials, as well as other NFL policies.

Dreith also told Gordon Forbes of USA Today that "75 percent" of the NFL's officials are opposed to instant replay. In the past, Dreith and Wyant might have been dropped completely, but now there is a fear of age discrimination lawsuits.
There may be an interesting hassle coming between ESPN and the NFL.

The league, vigorously opposed to state lotteries involving football games, wants to end picking against the spread by forecasters on any NFL telecasts.

Picking against the spread is a staple of ESPN's Pete Axthelm on the cable network's pregame and post-game shows. Axthelm was the only major forecaster who even mentioned the spread last season.

ESPN paid heavily for telecast rights in the NFL's rich new contract. It may fight to make its own programming decisions.
The asking price on ex-Bill Greg Bell was marked down to a fourth-round draft choice, which is what the Raiders paid the Rams for him.
Just a few weeks ago, George Steinbrenner said Deion Sanders "will be the next Rickey Henderson."

Going into Tuesday's games, the Next Rickey was hitting .116 with six runs batted in, one stolen base and numerous adventures in the outfield. In other words, Neon Deion is playing baseball like a cornerback.

If he doesn't show up at the Atlanta Falcons' training camp by July 26, it will cost Sanders a huge rebate from his signing bonus to the football team.

Maybe Steinbrenner meant "the next Rex Hudler."

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