Reggie, we hardly know ye
Reggie, we hardly know ye
The tale of Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler's bid to purchase the Vikings keeps going from weird to worse. Right after Red McCombs accepted Fowler's $600 million-plus offer, it emerged that several details of Fowler's biography were, how you say, made up. He had never played in the Little League World Series or worn the proud colors of the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not graduate from the University of Wyoming with a business degree. No sooner did that storm pass than reporters Chris Serres and Jay Weiner dropped a series of bombshells such as these in last Saturday's Star Tribune: "Fowler or his businesses have been sued more than three dozen times in the Phoenix and Denver areas over the past 15 years on a wide array of allegations.... He has borrowed heavily against several of his commercial properties in the Phoenix area.... He is the landlord and business partner of a man who years ago was involved in a college basketball point-shaving scam."
Well, look at the bright side: Maybe he made up the part about being business partners with a convicted gambler, too. Fowler got past his resume fibs relatively unscathed by stepping up to a microphone and saying, "I made a mistake." How did he get to be 46 years old without learning to avoid easily falsifiable whoppers? It just proves the rich really are different from you and me. If Fowler can even be called rich for present purposes, that is. He has steadfastly refused to say how much he's worth. The Arizona Republic estimated his assets somewhere slightly north of $400 million, which, even if correct, would be barely good enough for a basement apartment on Owner's Row in the NFL.
Anybody here remember Donald Watkins, the Alabama businessman who was going to buy the Twins and spirit them away when baseball said it would not contract the team in the early months of 2002? The deal never transpired, and of course it was the purest coincidence that early 2002 also marked Carl Pohlad's most recent all-out lobbying push for a publicly financed stadium. Skeptics could be forgiven for wondering whether Fowler's bid is a similar kind of nothing-to-lose gambit on the part of the incumbent ownership. Fowler's group offered about $200 million more than did Wolves owner Glen Taylor; there was little downside from McCombs's point of view in running it past the NFL's ownership committee even if it amounted to shooting the moon. But with alleged gambling ties on the table, how many people still think Fowler will ever own the team?