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Shula Joins Cosby In Browns Bid

Don Shula has joined a group including Bill Cosby and the chairman of Cablevision Systems Corp. that is trying to buy the Cleveland Browns.

Shula will appear with Cleveland lawyer Larry Dolan and his brother, Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan, at a news conference Tuesday to discuss his role if the group succeeds in its bid to buy the expansion Browns.

A news release from the Dolan group said the NFL's all-time winningest coach would become an executive vice president of the Browns.

Shula, a Browns player in the 1950s, would have "direct responsibility to lead and assist the franchise's selection of a general manager, head coach and related team personnel," the release said.

It did not say whether Shula would also have a financial stake in the team. Through spokesmen, Shula and the Dolans each declined interview requests Monday.

At a news conference June 2 aimed at stirring up excitement about their bid, the Dolans and Cosby outlined a plan to have the brothers each own 30 percent of the team, hold 30 percent in trusts for two sons, have Cosby own 5 percent and let other investors own 5 percent.

They said at the time they were trying to persuade former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and others to join their effort.

Kosar, who did not return a call to his office Monday, has expressed interest in buying the team and has aligned himself with toy tycoon Thomas G. Murdough.

The NFL has said it has about six serious candidates to buy the Browns.

The Dolan group has waged the most public campaign to win the team. Cosby's news conference was broadcast live locally and Shula has strong local connections.

A Cleveland-area native, Shula played at John Carroll University and then for the Browns from 1951 to 1955, when Cleveland won two league titles.

It was Shula's Baltimore Colts who lost to Cleveland 27-0 in the 1964 title game -- the Browns' last championship. And it was Shula's Miami Dolphins who beat Cleveland 20-14 in a 1972 AFC playoff game that was Miami's 15th victory in a perfect 17-0 season.

Shula went on to win 347 games in his NFL coaching career.

After owner Art Modell moved the Cleveland franchise to Baltimore in 1995, Shula turned down a chance to become the Ravens coach or a member of their front office.

The Dolans and Cosby have also said they want their players to be role models and bringing the highly respected Shula on board may be a way for them to achieve that goal.

In a motivational book he co-wrote in 1995, Shula said his coaching beliefs included valuing "character as well as ability," leading by example and choosing respect over popularity.

"Those beliefs are at the heart of everything I do with my coaches and players," he wrote.

Cleveland's new Browns are to take the field in 1999.

The NFL is expected to set a price for the team through a bidding prcess as early as next month and choose an owner by September. Most estimates put the price between $300 million and $350 million.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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