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PRO FOOTBALL: THE POST-STRIKE GAMES BEGIN : The Raider-Seahawk Rivalry Adds a Dimension or Two Today

October 25, 1987|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

With less fanfare than you might have imagined possible, the Bo and Boz eras of the Raider-Seahawk rivalry are about to begin at the Coliseum today. But then, what's $18.4 million worth of rookies--$11 million for Brian Bosworth, $7.4 million for Bo Jackson if he consents to take it--compared to the big news:

The season is on again. After three weeks of "replacement" football, everyone is in a somber mood, indeed. The Seahawks were so angry at a crack by a Seattle TV anchorman about loading their picket signs into the back of their Mercedes Benzes that player representative Kenny Easley reportedly considered leading his troops on a boycott of the press. That would have repaired their image, all right.

Boz, just back from his tour of the talk shows, was so caught up in the new mood that he neglected to issue his standard warnings of doom to the opposition, as he did before his first game to John Elway, necessitating a trip to Coach Chuck Knox's office. Hold out your wrists, Brian, this is going to hurt me more than it does you.

It must have worked, because Boz got through this week without saying he was going to deviate Marcus Allen's septum and chase Bo Jackson back to left field in Royals Stadium.

The Raiders? They're some happy group, too. Most of them struck and lost money. The rest of them came back and went 0-2.

"We're all still in a little funk," Rod Martin said at mid-week.

On the positive side, they managed to get through the week without a melee. Vince Evans said that by Wednesday, Martin, who taunted him from the other side of the picket line during the strike, was affectionately calling him "Slabhead," one of Evans' USC nicknames when they were there together. Be thankful for small favors.

Since the Raiders have been away, or most of them, you might need an update. Some points of interest:

--The schedule. Nobody really knows how good they are but after the next six games, they will. After today, the Raiders will be at New England, at Minnesota, at San Diego, home against the Broncos, and at Seattle.

--Quarterback. It's Rusty Hilger, remember? He's the young quarterback from Oklahoma State whom the Raiders made No. 1, despite popular skepticism. He had a shaky camp, was shelled in his debut at Green Bay, but returned to play OK against the Detroit Lions. Marc Wilson remains No. 2. What Evans' addition means to the rotation is anyone's guess, although he isn't dressing today. Oh, and next week, Jim Plunkett will be eligible to get off injured reserve.

--Offensive line. It's being rebuilt, with rookies John Clay and Bruce Wilkerson replacing Henry Lawrence and Mickey Marvin on the right side. The returns are still out.

--Wide receivers. Now it's James Lofton and Mervyn Fernandez. With the problems at quarterback, and against two opening foes that played zone and wouldn't let anyone get deep, no one has been able to get a good reading on them. Dokie Williams, a deposed starter, has asked to be traded to the Chargers, but he shouldn't hold his breath.

--Bo. The 1985 Heisman trophy winner was working as the No. 2 tailback last week and appears ready to go today, 10 days after arriving in town. The Raiders got a break when he arrived just as the strike ended. What was expected to be a media circus turned out to be mere curiosity by the usual band of press. Marcus Allen has taken it graciously, so in a season of disruptions, this one barely registers.

--Secondary. Lester Hayes has been all but officially retired and the new man on the left corner is Lionel Washington, who is getting a long look from opposing quarterbacks.

And about your Seahawks:

They're the same wild, wacky, full-of-laughs bunch that gets upset when pundits pick them too high, or too low, or too close to the middle or make cracks about where they put their picket signs.

They finished last season 10-6 and with five straight victories, including 31-14 at Dallas, 37-0 over the Raiders at the Kingdome, and 41-16 over the Broncos in the same house of horrors.

Naturally, in the absence of anyone looking truly imposing in the American Football Conference, they were given some Super Bowl mention before the season started.

Au contraire, says Knox.

"That doesn't mean anything to us," Knox told Los Angeles reporters last week. "We were picked in some publications to finish fourth in this division. The Giants have been picked to repeat by many people. They're 0-5 right now.

"So it doesn't cost you guys anything to make predictions because you have no investment in it."

Now for the key facts: Knox's top priority, since good quarterbacks were unavailable, was to improve his linebacking this season. All he came up with were 6-foot 4-inch, 244-pound Tony Woods of Pitt in the first round, Stanford's Dave Wyman in the second and Bosworth in the supplemental draft. Mission accomplished. Also, his in-and-out quarterback, Dave Krieg has been in again lately.

Knox keeps reminding pesky reporters that his team is just 1-1--"We're a .500 football team and that's reality"--but since the loss was at Denver, Seattle fans can be forgiven if they haven't started burning their season tickets yet.

Raider Notes

Strike hangover? Late last week, 55,000 tickets had been sold. Last season's game here drew 73,055, without Bo Jackson or Brian Bosworth. . . . Activated Saturday (or a big Raider welcome to) were: Jackson; safety Eddie Anderson, the gung-ho hitter off the strike-breaker team; and Steve Wright, who was lured over the picket line by a guaranteed contract. Brought back from injured reserve were rookie fullback Steve Smith and guard Bill Lewis. Not dressing today (or say goodby to?) are Ethan Horton, James Davis and Dean Miraldi.

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