Turned Away at the NFL's Door

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WASHINGTON: Howard Milstein just wants a place at the table. But the guys who own the furniture keep moving it. Milstein, a billionaire real estate developer, and his partners have offered $800 million to buy the National Football League's Washington Redskins franchise. The bid was not only $200 million better than anyone else's, it would be the largest price ever for a North American sports team. Still, the NFL owners don't seem to want Milstein's money. Although Milstein says he has restructured the financing to meet league guidelines, sources say the offer is too highly leveraged. It's an ironic argument from a group of older white men who mainly got their teams for a song way back when or had them passed down from Daddy. There is also Milstein's "combative" style -- but again, that hasn't disqualified others. Sports-industry experts say the unspoken factor is that Milstein is seen as an interloper in this genteel men's club. "For some of these owners, Milstein is one generation removed from a tailor," says a former NFL executive. There is a handful of Jewish owners in the NFL, but the Old Guard still controls the door. "Before they let Milstein sit in on the most exclusive club in America, they make sure he is the right kind of guy," says the executive. "For the owners, Milstein apparently isn't."