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NFL Begins Review Of Fowler's Finances

By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page D03

FT. LAUDERDALE, March 9 -- A committee of NFL owners began looking into the finances of Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler, who is attempting to purchase the Minnesota Vikings for $625 million, but a decision on whether he will be approved by the full ownership is not expected until May.

Roger Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer, said the finance committee was in the preliminary stages of doing due diligence on Fowler, who is trying to become the first African-American owner. He completed a purchase agreement with current owner Red McCombs on Feb. 14, but still must be approved by three-fourths of the league's 32 owners.

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Eight of the 10 members of the finance committee attended the meeting. The finance committee took only one vote, and that was to recommend approval of the sale of a 10 percent minority interest in the Washington Redskins from minority partner Fred Drasner to owner Daniel M. Snyder and the remaining minority partners.

The price of Drasner's share was not announced. The transfer of the 10 percent to the remaining partners still must be approved by the full ownership, with a vote expected at the league's meetings in Maui starting March 21. Sources said the owners almost certainly will approve the finance committee's recommendation.

Fowler did not attend Wednesday's finance committee meeting, described by Goodell as a "productive session. . . . We're at a very early stage. To make any judgment on his ability to complete the transaction would be premature at this time. Right now it's a very normal process, and it's proceeding on our normal schedule."

The league committee usually takes 60 to 90 days before presenting a potential owner to the full membership. Fowler and McCombs announced the sale of the team Feb. 14, and Goodell said a likely scenario is that the sale will come up for a vote at spring meetings in Washington on May 23.

There has been some controversy involving the initial biographical résumé Fowler's public relations firm released when the sale was announced. Discrepancies were reported, and Fowler has released a corrected version.

Fowler has at least four partners, but as the managing partner he will be responsible for putting up 30 percent of the sale price. Published reports have indicated that Fowler owns all or part of 300 businesses, and he reportedly is selling 25 percent of his aviation simulator company SATCO for $300 million.

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