Baltimore, in its hour of baseball triumph, has its other ear glumly cocked to the football word from bouncin' Bob Irsay: goodbye Baltimore, maybe; hello Jacksonville, goodbye Jacksonville, hello Memphis, goodbye Memphis, hello . . . oh, hello again, Memphis.
Setting aside Los Angeles and Phoenix, for now, Irsay, the absentee owner from Skokie, Ill., gave officials of the Tennessee city an on-again, off-again act Monday night and came on again yesterday with the serious listen to the pitch to play Colt football in an expanded Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Irsay and a Memphis group headed by Mayor Wyeth Chandler's liaison, John Malmo, got together in a Chicago hotel amid reports that a market research firm employed by Irsay had recommended Memphis over Jacksonville.
Memphis was said to be offering Irsay $7.5 million a year, guaranteed, for 10 years and $32 million expansion of the Liberty Bowl, if Irsay signs a 22 year contract to keep the club in Memphis. Irsay stormed out of the meeting -- "he became abusive and left the room in a huff," said Malmo.
Eavesdroppers say Irsay blew up because he was demanding 8 or 9 percent in money his own company, Colt Construction of Chicago, would receive to oversee the Memphis stadium expansion from 50,000 capacity to 70,000; the city would not go above 6 percent.
But by the time the man from Memphis went home, he could report to City Council yesterday morning, "We misinterpreted (Irsay's) actions last night. He says he wants to continue to negotiate. . ."
NFL officials have placed Irsay's proposal to move on the Oct. 31 Dallas meeting agenda.