SI Vault
Edited by John Papanek
July 24, 1978
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July 24, 1978


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When the NFL owners get finished with their next piece of business, Jack Kent Cooke may lose part of his sports empire, but Joe Robbie may lose his wife. Oh, well, whatever happens it will be for the good of the old NFL.

The league is considering an amendment to its constitution that would prohibit not only owners but also their kin from investing in teams outside football. The reason for such a restriction, which no other sport places upon its owners, is, says NFL Executive Director Don Weiss, "to ensure that our owners direct their interests and energies into stabilizing and maintaining the growth of their franchise and the NFL. We feel they should make a choice. If they want to be involved with the NFL, it must be a 100% involvement, without any diversions or distractions."

The league's provincial "no outside ownership" rule has been in effect for 10 years, though it has gone unenforced. If this formal amendment is approved, and the Los Angeles Times reports that 24 of the 28 teams are in favor of it, Cooke ( Redskins), who also owns the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, and Lamar Hunt ( Chiefs), who is a part owner of the Dallas Tornado and the Chicago Bulls, will have to choose: us or them.

That is a reasonable choice. But what about Robbie ( Dolphins) and Ed DeBartolo Jr. ( 49ers)? DeBartolo's father owns hockey's Pittsburgh Penguins, and Robbie's wife has an interest in soccer's Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Does the NFL consider itself more sacred than the American family? Do "diversions and distractions" include fathers and wives? Would DeBartolo disown his father to keep his team?

Said DeBartolo Jr., "No comment. We're studying it."


A year ago when the first offspring of Triple Crown winner Secretariat got to the races they became the most closely watched group of 2-year-olds in history. But although many had been sold at auction for extravagant prices—one for as much as $1.5 million—once they got into starting gates they failed to live up to expectations. Because Secretariat himself had been so precocious, winning four races by late August of his first year, the supposition was that his get would win race after race. However, no son or daughter of Secretariat won a race in this country until Sacrebleu in December, and by the end of the year his nine runners had only two wins and $18,221 in purses among them.

Secretariat's second crop is composed of horses of a different color. In recent weeks Terlingua, a strapping filly, has won her first two races, the $44,800 Nursery Stakes and the $97,475 Hollywood Lassie, both at Hollywood Park. And last Friday at Belmont Park, trainer LeRoy Jolley, who handled both Foolish Pleasure and Honest Pleasure, sent out General Assembly, another Secretariat 2-year-old, who won his first race handsomely.

Indeed, there could be a similarity between Secretariat and Mill Reef, one of the best European runners of recent years. Mill Reefs first crop was highly priced, carefully watched—and fizzled. His second crop is racing now, and in recent weeks his son Acamas won the French Derby and his son Shirley Heights the English and Irish Derbies.

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