"Bill Francione," Ken said. "The parent company is actually called MF, Inc. Cute, right? Francione was Mr. Inside, Dick was Mr. Outside. When Francione died, Business Week said they were the greatest team since Johnson met Johnson."
"Weren't they supposed to be buying NBC?" I said. "Or maybe it was CBS. Whose stock is more in the toilet?"
"Anytime anything big goes on the market, they're supposed to be a big player-sports teams, airlines, networks, the L.A. Times, you name it. There's never been a hot property Dick Miles didn't want. He was always the hustler, Francione was always the one putting one foot in front of the other. But Dick tells me they'd agreed to go after the Hawks just before Francione died. Just as a way of having Dick deal with his sports jones once and for all."
"His Jerry Jones," I said."
"He says he's craved action his whole life, and that we've got the best kind in the whole wide world."
"Jesus Christ, Ken. How much is he willing to pay?"
"Half a billion."
"No shit. Now you really can tell him to go fuck himself. That midget who owns the Saints, Bobby Finkel, paid eight hundred million, and that was nearly ten years ago."
There was a pause at the other end of the line. I was standing at the front window, looking across the street to the beautifully manicured park, where a big redhead was walking an English cocker spaniel small enough to fit inside her handbag. She looked up suddenly, as if I'd trained a searchlight on her, and smiled. I smiled back.
"I meant for our half," Ken said.
"Half a billion for your half?"
"Kind of gets your attention, doesn't it?"
"Let me get this straight. Miles is willing to be the guy who finally pays one billion dollars for one football team?"
"This is a great country, isn't it? Even if England has better museums."
Then Ken said, "Daddy always said you couldn't put a price on what it meant to own the Hawks, and I always thought he was right. Until now."
"Five hundred million to you guys," I said. "And the same to me?"
"I might have missed something while you were doing the math," Ken said. "But what happened to fuck him?"
From Red Zone by Mike Lupica. Copyright Mike Lupica 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam Publishing.
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