April 27, 2011
Leonard Tose’s daughter, Susan Tose Spencer, recently discussed the lockout with the Las Vegas Sun. (She currently lives in Las Vegas.) Not surprisingly, Spencer, who was the first (and still only) female GM in NFL history, sides with the owners.
“The players are employees, but they’re not taking any risks,” she said Tuesday. “They’re not spending any money on expenses.
“As a business owner, I say it’s my business, because I put the money up. If I buy a new franchise today, I’m spending $800 million to $900 million, and I may have to borrow money to build a new stadium. It’s all my risk.”
Of course, her dad was a legend in this town, for his selfless giving to employees and to charity, his lavish and ultimately disastrous lifestyle, and for the fact that he very nearly moved the team to Phoenix. This from a 1984 Sports Illustrated article.
The game of holding cities hostage, one played with increasing success by pro sports entrepreneurs, was raised to a high art last week by Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose. After threatening to move the Eagles to Phoenix, the financially embattled Tose—he reportedly is $40 million in debt—agreed to keep them in Philadelphia in return for concessions from the city fathers that included construction of luxury boxes in Veterans Stadium, deferral of stadium rent for 10 years, a new practice facility and a bigger share of food and beverage concession revenues…When rumors of a possible move to Phoenix surfaced a few weeks ago, Tose said, “The only way the Eagles will move will be over my dead body.” Early last week the real story emerged: Negotiations were under way for James Monaghan, a Phoenix resident, to pay Tose $30 million or more for a one-quarter share of the Eagles, who would move to the Arizona city. The news was a downer in Philadelphia, where a crowd booed Tose as he came out of a barbershop and where the Daily News’ Mark Whicker wrote of Tose, “Loyalty? That’s just a word in the dictionary…behind loser, a few pages behind liar.”
The press wasn’t always so angry at Tose. In fact, many of the reporters loved him, because the cordial Tose was the only owner in the NFL who served filet mignon and lobster in the press box. He was known for his incredible generosity, often tipping waiters with $100 bills. He helped start the Ronald McDonald House, and he often dipped into his pockets to help local charities, schools, and the Philly Police Department.
As for his disastrous lifestyle, he was a heavy drinker and a remarkably terrible blackjack player, always a terrible combination. This from his obit in the NY Times:
The casinos sent limousines and provided him with his own table, dealer, cocktail waitress and monogrammed glasses kept filled with scotch. He sometimes played seven $10,000 hands simultaneously. On one night, he signed $1 million in credit markers. In 72 losing nights, he lost $14.67 million at the Sands alone.
On some nights, he won big, stuffing athletic bags with hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end, he lost it all, by his estimate more than $20 million at Resorts International and $14 million at the Sands.
He lost all of his money to divorce and to the casinos, and on his 81st birthday he was evicted from his Main Line mansion. He lived out his last few years in a small Center City hotel, with many of his bills being paid by former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. When Tose died in 2003, Vermeil gave the eulogy. He began by saying, “Leonard Tose was an original piece of work.”
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