Ex-Eagles owner Tose dies at 88

Published April 16, 2003|Updated Sept. 1, 2005

Leonard Tose, a former Eagles owner and jet-setter who gambled away his fortune, died Tuesday at 88.

Mr. Tose died in his sleep in the hospice wing of St. Agnes Medical Center in Philadelphia, former Eagles general manager Jim Murray said.

Mr. Tose, who made his fortune in trucking, once estimated he lost as much as $50-million gambling. He spent his last years alone in a downtown hotel room.

He bought the Eagles in 1969 for $16.15-million, then a record for a professional sports franchise.

In 1976, he lured Dick Vermeil from UCLA to coach the hapless Eagles, who had one winning season from 1962-75. Vermeil's 1980 team lost to Oakland in the Super Bowl.

Mr. Tose flew to Eagles home games in a helicopter, was married aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth 2 and fed reporters filet mignon and shrimp cocktail.

Many of his spending sprees were for good causes. Mr. Tose was a driving force behind charities such as the Ronald McDonald House and the Eagles Fly for Leukemia program.

He was popular with players and employees, as evidenced by those who came to visit him in the final hours, including Murray, former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey and former receiver Harold Carmichael. Vermeil called.

"I think the National Football League has lost one of its most unique characters in a position of ownership that ever existed," said Vermeil, now coach of the Chiefs. "He was not ordinary. He lived life to the fullest."

Gambling debts forced Mr. Tose to sell the team to Norman Braman in 1985.

"He never claimed to be God's gift to the football world, but he was the best supporting person you could imagine," Bergey said. "All the players loved him."

He was married five times and had one daughter, who served as a vice president of the Eagles when her father owned the team.

BENGALS: Kicker Neil Rackers signed a one-year deal to remain after a season in which he made 83 percent of his field goals.

CHARGERS: Defensive tackle Leonardo Carson and guard Michael Keathley signed one-year deals to remain.

COLTS: Defensive tackle Josh Williams, cornerback David Macklin and running back Ricky Williams re-signed.

COWBOYS: Cornerback Mario Edwards signed a one-year deal to stay and free-agent kicker Ola Kimrin signed.

SAINTS: The team, which has trained at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La., since 2000 will move to Metarie, closer to its New Orleans home. Its new indoor practice area will be finished before camp starts in July.