The National Football League's two-day owners meetings ended today with updates being made on several complex issues.
First, the league's legal counsel noted that the NFL, having selected a new legal representative recently, will press forward with "depositions and discoveries" with regard to the U.S. Football League's $1.32 billion antitrust suit enjoining the NFL from playing on all three networks, according to league spokesman Joe Browne.
The league recently retained the services of attorney Robert Fiske of the New York firm of Davis, Polk and Wardell, for the USFL suit.
Browne also said the owners reviewed the recent developments in the changing ownership of the New Orleans Saints.
Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and car dealer Tom Benson have signed a 21-year agreement to keep the Saints in New Orleans in exchange for a state sales tax exemption and $2.5 million in concessions on revenues at the Superdome. Benson said his purchase of the team from John Mecom would be closed this weekend in Houston, for between $64 million and $70 million.
Browne said that Benson, already approved by league owners, officially will be named new owner Tuesday.
League owners gave Commissioner Pete Rozelle the okay to explore holding two overseas exhibition games each year -- one in Europe and one in Tokyo. The games between two NFL teams would be held on the fifth weekend of the exhibition season, but wouldn't start until 1987, Browne said. If the foreign games become a fixture, they'd be assigned on a rotating basis so that each of the NFL's 28 teams would play in one of them every seven years, Browne said.
Owners delayed any action on corporate ownership until their next meeting Oct. 15-16 in New York but held out the possibility of a special meeting being called before then to discuss the issue. NFL policy is for team ownership to a single individual with 51 percent ownership. But two clubs sold in the past year, the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, were sold to partnerships without a 51 percent owner.