NFL

Bon Jovi's publicist refutes Bills to Toronto speculation

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The Canadian Press
11/25/2013 4:11:42 PM
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While Jon Bon Jovi is interested in becoming an NFL owner one day, he's not currently pursuing the Buffalo Bills, the New Jersey rocker's publicist told The Associated Press on Monday.

"The Bills are not for sale, and he has too much respect for Mr. Wilson to engage in any discussions of buying the team," Ken Sunshine said, referring to Ralph Wilson, the team's Hall of Fame owner.

Saying Bon Jovi has "a day job that's doing very well," Sunshine added: "It's preposterous to say he's had any discussions with the Bills and Erie County."

Sunshine spoke by phone a day after CBSSports.com posted a story citing unidentified sources that Bon Jovi is among the parties positioning themselves to purchase the Bills after Wilson's death. Wilson, who turned 95 last month, has maintained he has no interest in selling the franchise during his lifetime.

Sunshine didn't deny Bon Jovi's interest in one day being an NFL owner, saying his client has made that no secret.

Bon Jovi has developed relationships with several NFL power-brokers, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

His interest in football went so far as to lead a group to establish an Arena Football team in Philadelphia in 2004. Bon Jovi owned the team through 2009, when the AFL folded for one season.

The future of the Bills is always a hot topic of discussion and speculation given Wilson's age and because he has ruled out the possibility of his family taking over the team after his death. The Bills will instead be sold, though that sale would likely be put off for a few years, with the franchise being operated through a trust.

Wilson, who lives in suburban Detroit, has already scaled back his control of the team. On Jan. 1, Russ Brandon was promoted to the position of team president, giving him full control of the franchise's day-to-day operations.

The team's short-term future in Buffalo was also secured in December, when the Bills signed a 10-year lease with the state and Erie County to continue playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The $271 million deal includes a provision that essentially locks the Bills in for the next seven seasons. The franchise would have to pay $400 million if it decides to leave before 2020. The team then has the option of buying out the remaining three years of the lease for $28 million.

Several groups have expressed interest in purchasing the Bills, including one led by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.

In response to the report regarding Bon Jovi, the Bills released a statement on Sunday, saying: "The organization does not respond to reports of the interest other parties may have in ownership or of speculation concerning various groups that may have such interest."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also issued a statement Sunday saying he's had no discussions with Bon Jovi.

Sunshine disputed another portion of the CBSSports.com report, which cited unidentified music industry sources as saying Bon Jovi's pursuit of an NFL team was likely connected to the dismissal of the band's longtime lead guitarist, Richie Sambora, in April.

Sunshine said the split had nothing to do with Bon Jovi's NFL aspirations and referred to previous reports that Sambora was never fired. He noted the guitarist said he was dropping out of the band's world tour because of "personal issues."

Last week, Sambora told TMZ that he's been in contact with Bon Jovi and indicated he is open to rejoining the band.

The Bills (4-7) are coming off their bye weekend off and preparing to host Atlanta in Buffalo's annual "home" game at Toronto on Sunday.

Bills in Toronto (Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
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