Fowler insists he has the money to buy team

Updated: February 18, 2005, 9:43 PM ET
Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Reggie Fowler apologized Friday for mistakes he made in misleading the public about his background and reiterated he has the money to buy the Minnesota Vikings.

The Arizona businessman, poised to become the NFL's first black owner, has an agreement to purchase the club from Red McCombs -- pending league approval.

Fowler met with the Twin Cities media to accept responsibility for inaccuracies in a biography distributed earlier this week by a public relations firm he's using, attempt to repair his image and pledge his sincerity and passion to fans.

His original bio claimed he played in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders and in the Little League World Series as an 11-year-old.

Fowler, a star linebacker at Wyoming, was actually cut in training camp by the Bengals and also by the Edmonton Eskimos -- not the Stampeders. Clarifying the Little League confusion, Fowler said he played with an All-Star team at a tournament in California that was called the World Series.

Though he refused to declare any parts of the botched bio embellishments or deceptions, Fowler acknowledged that he intentionally doctored his resume years ago -- to show he graduated from Wyoming with a degree in business administration and an emphasis in finance.

Fowler, who took business classes but actually received a degree in social work, said he fudged his resume after graduating in the early 1980s to look better for prospective employers.

As for the CFL confusion? Fowler said he remembered Thursday -- by looking at a W-2 form -- that he reported to Calgary initially before being sent to Edmonton, where he was cut after a brief stint.

The biography came from his office in Chandler, Ariz., where Fowler runs Spiral, Inc., a diverse business that has numerous real estate holdings and owns companies in several industries, including broadcasting, aviation and manufacturing.

Estimating the last time he created a resume was more than 20 years ago, Fowler said the errors -- other than the degree discrepancy -- came from oversights and said there was no intent to deceive.

"When you don't pay attention to what you put out," Fowler said, "you're subject to errors. I'm a perfect example of that."

Fowler admitted he was unprepared for the onslaught of scrutiny his pursuit of the team, and subsequent public relations missteps, would bring. He repeated his desire to live in Minnesota, something McCombs didn't do, and insisted that his ownership group has no plans to move the franchise.

"I've obviously learned over the last week that it's important to be a part of your community," Fowler said. "I've never owned or operated an NFL club, and I'm going to need to be real close to it -- for a real long period of time -- to understand how it works. So the only way that I'm going to do that is to live here and be part of not only the team but the atmosphere in the community."

He again declined to reveal his net worth or confirm any reports about his company's revenues. But Fowler said he and his limited partners are wealthy enough to complete the transaction. He insisted the NFL and McCombs are satisfied with his financial condition after 10 months of research.

"If both those groups did not feel that we were capable of doing what we're doing," Fowler said, "we would not have been allowed to sign a purchase agreement."

On other subjects:

  • Fowler confirmed he is working with three New York-based real estate developers, Alan Landis, Zyggi Wilf and David Mandelbaum. He also said that Twin Cities auto dealer Denny Hecker will be one of the four limited partners.

  • Fowler said he's divorced from his former wife, Lori. It was finalized in 2002, and he said all the financial settlements have been made. (In 1998, author Tom Clancy's purchase of the Vikings fell through when a divorce settlement significantly decreased his worth. McCombs bought the team later that year.)

    Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press