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NADA protects Feb. convention dates

The National Automobile Dealers Association rejected a big trade offer with the National Football League that would have disrupted the scheduling of February's NADA convention in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called NADA President Phillip Brady and proposed swapping weekends in New Orleans.

Tagliabue asked Brady if the annual dealer convention, planned for Feb. 2-5, could be a week earlier. Doing that would have allowed rescheduling Super Bowl XXXVI from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3.

League officials wanted the change after Tagliabue postponed games Sept. 16 and Sept. 17. Moving the Super Bowl date would have allowed the league to keep its playoff schedule intact, but it's likely the regular season will be extended by one week and one playoff round will be eliminated.

After the call from Tagliabue, Brady huddled for more than three hours with NADA Chairman Robert Maguire, Vice Chairman Carter Meyers - who will become next year's NADA chairman at the convention - and Steve Pitt, executive director of the association's convention operations.

Late Tuesday, Sept. 18, Brady called Tagliabue and rejected the NFL's proposal.

A switch of convention dates would create "a logistical nightmare," said NADA spokesman David Hyatt. As many as 17,000 hotel rooms are booked, 30,000 attendees committed and 600 contracts signed for a convention that includes more than 500 events, he said.

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Tagliabue faxed a polite message to Brady, telling the NADA president that he and the NFL understood.

Game over? Not quite.

Diehard football fans, sportswriters and talking heads on cable TV speculated the NFL might want to sweeten the trade offer with cash.

Said Hyatt on Friday: "We have had no indication the NFL wants to discuss this further."

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