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Chapter 11 – Long Shot: The Spring and Fall of the USFL

“I’ve always been a football fan.  I love sports, and having my own team seemed the realization of a great fantasy.  I also liked the idea of taking on the NFL, a smug, self-satisfied monopoly that I believed was highly vulnerable to an aggressive competitor.

In any partnership, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Fans like winners.  They come to watch stars – great, exciting players who do great, exciting things.

To me, committees are what insecure people create in order to put off making hard decisions.

“… I like consultants even less than I like committees.  When it comes down to making a smart decision, the most distinguished planning committee working with the highest-priced consultants doesn’t hold a candle to a group of guys with a reasonable amount of common sense and their own money on the line.

“Among other things, she reported that a majority of fans who’d been surveyed in a poll wanted the USFL to stay in the spring.  You can probably guess how much stock I put in polls.

“I also liked the fact that Flutie had great media potential.  He was good-looking, well-spoken, and gutsy – the sort of guy the press loves to write about.”

“I knew it was highly unlikely that the other owners would go along – and they didn’t – but my attitude is that you can’t get hurt asking.”

“I’d say to Harry Usher, our commissioner, ‘Why aren’t you out lobbying the press?’ And he’d say, ‘It isn’t important.  It’s the jury we’ve got to convince.’  Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.”

Chapter 12 – Ice Capades: Rebuilding the Wellman Rink

I never had a master plan.  I just got fed up one day and decided to do something about it.

“‘Let him have a go at it,’ said Newsday, ‘After all, the city has proved nothing except that it can’t get the job done.'”

“Bullies may act tough, but they’re really closet cowards.  The only people bullies push around are the ones they know they can beat.  Confront a strong, competent person, and he’ll fight back harder than ever.  Confront a bully, and in most cases he’ll fold like a deck of cards.”

“It’s fortunate for those city officials that they chose to go into city government rather than business.  The deal they were suggesting was far worse for the city than the one I’d originally offered.  I wasn’t about to fight them at my own expense.”

“Just as I was making this discovery, a city worker walked by and stepped right on one of the few living plants on the site.  He didn’t look back.  In a way, it was a perfect metaphor: the rink being trampled by one of the people who was being paid to fix it.

“Now I saw it as a symptom of the bigger problem at Wollman Rink: there was absolutely no one in charge.  Leadership is perhaps the key to getting any job done.  There wasn’t a single day when I didn’t check on the progress we were making on the rink.  Most days, I visited the site personally.”

It was a simple, accessible drama about the contrast between governmental incompetence and the power of effective private enterprise.

“I’ve yet to get a call from any city official seeking a meeting.  I can’t honestly say I’m surprised.  The bad press has died down, and that’s all any of them were really concerned about.”

“What Koch didn’t understand is that the city council could have done some of the very same things I did.  … there is no conceivable excuse for not completing it in a year, much less for failing for six years.  That’s incompetence, plain and simple, and incompetence was at the heart of this whole sad saga.”

“The law was designed to increase competition and reduce building costs, but it does just the opposite.  No single general contractor is permitted to have overall responsibility, and the result is frequent delays, disputes, and overruns.”

“Skating isn’t my strong suit.”