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Swann and promoter reach deal

| Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Former Steeler Lynn Swann reached a last-minute settlement Monday with a sports promoter who Swann said owed him $90,000 for a weekend of autographs and a personal appearance in 1999.

Attorneys for both sides spent four hours negotiating the deal behind closed doors in U.S. District Judge Donald J. Lee's chambers in the federal courthouse, Downtown.

A jury trial was scheduled to start yesterday in the lawsuit. About two dozen former Steelers were on the witness list.

'There were grave disagreements' in the case, Swann told reporters after the settlement.

'It's safe to say that Swann is satisfied with the agreement,' said his attorney, Sandy Garfinkel. 'Both sides didn't get everything that they wanted or could have potentially gotten, but (a) trial is costly and the results are always uncertain.'

'The parties have worked out a settlement agreeable to both sides,' said Charles E. Bobinis, who represented Michael Mahone, owner of Hot Corner Sports in Putnam Valley, N.Y.

Both sides refused to disclose terms of the agreement.

In May 1999, Swann, a wide receiver who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, and about 50 other former Super Bowl Steelers gathered for a 'Team of the Decade Reunion Weekend' at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The players greeted fans and autographed posters, helmets, footballs and other collectibles at the event organized by Mahone.

Swann's contract stipulated that he would get $100,000 for 3,000 autographs. Swann said he received $10,000 up front, but Mahone stopped payment on a $90,000 check after the event.

In court documents, Mahone said Swann owed him 1,019 autographs and cost him nearly $400,000 in lost sales of the signed items.

Claiming breach of contract, Swann sued Mahone shortly after the event under his company's name, Swann Inc., a two-person operation located in the Grant Building, Downtown.

John Stallworth, a former wide receiver for the Steelers, joined Swann's lawsuit in January 2000, claiming he was owed $28,000 for his appearance.

Stallworth, who lives in Huntsville, Ala., settled his end of the dispute late last year under a confidential agreement, according to Garfinkel.

All other Steelers involved in the event were paid, Garfinkel said.

Mahone said outside court that he is talking with Steelers officials about opening a sports memorabilia shop in the area between PNC Park and the new Steelers stadium, which includes the former site of Three Rivers Stadium.

A waterfront park, retail outlets, public roadways and parking are slated for the property.

Despite the dispute with Swann, Mahone said he still represents current and past Steelers for autograph signings, celebrity cruises and other promotional events.

Christopher Zurawsky can be reached at czurawsky@tribweb.com or (412) 391-8793.

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