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MODELL SELLS MINORITY INTEREST IN RAVENS, REST TO FOLLOW IN 2004

Art Modell's 38-year run at the top of American sports has apparently entered its final years, as the Baltimore Ravens team owner has agreed to relinquish his franchise to a new investor as soon as 2004.

Modell struck a tentative agreement Friday to sell 49 percent of the Ravens to Anne Arundel County (Md.) businessman Stephen J. Bisciotti. The $275 million price includes an option enabling Bisciotti to buy the rest of the team's shares in four years for an additional $325 million, according to sources familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

That gives the team a value of about $600 million.

Bisciotti said Sunday he intends to invoke his option to become the team's sole owner. The deal, which still must pass muster with the National Football League, gives Bisciotti the right to purchase the other 51 percent of the team anytime between 2004 and 2006, one source said.

Pack, Vikes in playoff battle

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, archrivals who fancied themselves as the NFC's best four months ago, are now scrambling just to make the playoffs as a wild card.

The loser of tonight's showdown at the Metrodome (9 p.m., Ch. 7) between two 7-6 underachievers probably will miss out on the postseason.

"This is the biggest game we've ever played there," Packers quarterback Brett Favre said. "A lot of people thought this would be for the (division) championship. But it's not. It's for survival."

Carruth returned to Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rae Carruth was back in a Charlotte jail awaiting legal action on accusations he helped kill his pregnant girlfriend, a charge that carries a possible death sentence.

The former Charlotte Panthers receiver returned to North Carolina on Sunday afternoon with investigators who spent the day driving him back from Jackson, Tenn.

Around the league

Tennessee Titans end Jevon Kearse set the NFL rookie record for sacks Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Kearse sacked Danny Kanell on the first play of the Falcons' second possession. That gave him 12 1/2 sacks for the season, tying Simeon Rice (1996) and Leslie O'Neal (1986). Kearse broke the tie in the third quarter by sacking backup quarterback Tony Graziani for a 12-yard loss. Kanell had sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Problems with pins holding his right thumb together might cause Tennessee Titans safety Blaine Bishop to miss the rest of the season.

Detroit Lions offensive tackle Ray Roberts will miss the rest of the season after tearing ligaments in his right knee.

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