NFL owners eliminated the horse-collar tackle yesterday, then maintained the suspense for at least one more day regarding the sale of the...

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WASHINGTON — NFL owners eliminated the horse-collar tackle yesterday, then maintained the suspense for at least one more day regarding the sale of the Minnesota Vikings and the selection of a site for the 2009 Super Bowl.

Beyond those formalities, the first day of a two-day owners’ meeting put on full display stark differences among the teams over revenue sharing, which need to be resolved before a new collective-bargaining agreement is reached with the players’ union. Somewhat related was New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson’s confirmation that he has been offered more than $1 billion for his team, an offer he didn’t accept but used to illustrate the financial problems that might prompt him to move the franchise elsewhere — perhaps to Los Angeles.

“What would it take to keep it in New Orleans?” Benson said. “We need to work out a reasonable situation.”

The owners’ only definitive action was the 27-5 vote to ban the horse-collar tackle, in which a defender grabs the back inside of an opponent’s shoulder pads and yanks the player down. A 15-yard penalty will be called only if the tackle immediately brings the ball carrier down, and only if he’s in open field.

The proposed $600 million sale of the Vikings to Zygmunt Wilf, New Jersey real-estate developer, was discussed by the league’s finance committee and could be approved by the owners today, although some details in the agreement between Wilf and current owner Red McCombs are holding up the process.

“From what we can see right now, just logistical issues,” said Benson, who heads the finance committee. “It’s just a matter of getting the paperwork done.”

Also on the agenda today is the selection of a 2009 Super Bowl site. Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Tampa, Fla., are the contenders, although Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams said he considered the vote to be a two-city race between Atlanta and Houston.

“It’s going to be a close call,” he said.

Also yesterday, the league’s finance committee asked Malcolm Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner, to explain Manchester United’s relationship with a Las Vegas casino. Glazer recently succeeded in a $1.47 billion takeover of the soccer club, which is involved in a proposed venture with Las Vegas Sands Corp. that would build a resort and casino near United’s Old Trafford stadium.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Glazer’s acquisition did not violate the NFL’s cross-ownership rules and that there was no problem related to the debt Glazer is incurring.

“The only issue is related to our policy of ownership interest in gambling casinos,” Aiello said.


• Racial diversity within NFL coaching staffs and front offices is improving while its players’ union continued to excel, according to a University of Central Florida study.

Richard Lapchick of UCF’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave the NFL grades of B for race and a D-plus for gender, although the league has a higher percentage of woman executives at the very top than the other major men’s sports leagues.

The NFLPA maintained A-pluses for race and gender, the best among the professional players’ unions reviewed. Almost two-thirds of the positions on the NFLPA’s board were occupied by blacks, led by executive director Gene Upshaw.

That figure is in line with the racial makeup of league’s players, 69 percent of whom are black.

• S Cory Hall signed with the Washington Redskins after two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

• The Arizona Cardinals signed WR Charles Lee to a one-year contract. Lee, 27, a seventh-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2000, spent two years with the Packers and three more with Tampa Bay.

• Tennessee TE Ben Troupe has a foot injury that might cause him to miss the rest of the offseason but should not affect his availability for the 2005 season.

“Obviously this injury is more than a sprain,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “His season is not in jeopardy.”

• The Minnesota Vikings and K Paul Edinger agreed to terms on a one-year contract. Edinger, who spent the past five seasons with Chicago, was cut by the Bears earlier this month after they signed Doug Brien.