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MIKE DOWNEY

Maybe We Should Petition for a Recall of L.A. Fans

November 14, 1994|MIKE DOWNEY

Vote today: Proposition 287.

Anybody who starts a fight at a football game can be kicked out of the state of California and made to move to the other 49 states, Mexico or Canada.

Man, if this was the last Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles contest in NFL history, say a little prayer. Be thankful nobody got killed.

Bringing new meaning to the phrase "Beat L.A.!" spectators galore got punched and kicked as though they were Rodney King or Reginald Denny. At last report: 14 arrested, 55 ejected. Plus, both of the starting quarterbacks were driven from the football field on golf carts to go have X-rays. Plus, both of their replacements were sent sprawling by cheap shots that drew penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"This is football, not boxing," a plaintive Anthony Newman of the Rams said when Sunday's civil war mercifully ended.

Teammate Shane Conlan was so aggrieved by what he saw happening in the Anaheim Stadium grandstand, he said: "I felt like putting on my stuff (equipment) and going up there. People spend a lot of money to bring their families and they can't watch the game because some pathetic idiots want to fight. They need to get a life."

Precious few of these pathetic idiots were from out of state. Alas, these were our pathetic idiots.

Here's an idea:

Let's keep the Raiders and Rams here and send Oakland and St. Louis the fans.

Oh, well. This concludes another special Sunday here in the land of spilled milk and funny honey. We finally get a nice turnout and look what happens. We get blacked out of the Cowboy-49er game on TV. Our own game develops into a mishmash of broken plays, broken players, insensitive people and senseless penalties. And everyone lived unhappily ever after.

Lost in the process was some newfangled play-calling by the Raiders that was more than welcome, some eyebrow-raising strategy by the Rams that included 21 consecutive pass calls, some pinpoint accuracy by Jeff Hostetler and Chris Chandler before they got knocked into La-La Land, some clutch kicking by Jeff Jaeger and at least 60,000 spectators who did not get handcuffed.

The contest itself was slapdash but spirited, with the Raiders defeating the Rams by the exact same score, 20-17, of their 1991 game at the Coliseum. Who knows when or where their paths will cross again? Live long and prosper.

Should have been a nice day, this one.

It was such a pleasure to see a full house. To see traffic on Katella that was not headed for an amusement park. To see the Raiders come to their senses and begin doing imaginative things with the football (although, when Jaeger makes a field goal and gives them three points, perhaps the Raiders had better keep the three, even if their opponents do commit a penalty that gives them a first down).

At crunch time, it was still Tim Brown who came up with shoestring catches that kept drives alive. But guess what? Rocket Ismail, James Jett, Jamie Williams, Andrew Glover--look! They finally got their hands on the old football.

The game was no tea party, as Vince Evans and Chris Miller discovered when they were summoned to replace Hostetler and Chandler. Possibly as payback, Evans got bulldogged out of bounds by the Rams' Fred Stokes, one series after Miller took a pop in the chops near his own bench from the Raiders' Jerry Ball. It got nasty out there.

Hostetler, though, said, "They were playing clean and hard, trying to make things happen. I didn't see anything other than that."

Except up in the stands.

There might never be another NFL game, L.A. vs. L.A., and that would be a low down dirty shame. Let's hope these two football teams stick around, if only to offer collateral for all of their loyal customers who are out on bail.

If we do lose football here, we will have these people to blame/thank. But what can be done? You can't penalize customers for unsportsmanlike conduct. Businesses can't refuse to sell tickets to people who might cause trouble. You can't round up the usual suspects.

Greater Los Angeles has a situation on its hands not unlike Europe's with soccer hooligans, and anyone with potential solutions is hereby invited to shout them out, or propose a ballot measure.

Until then, all the public can do with these games is what the athletes do. Take them one at a time.

* UNRULY BEHAVIOR: Police counted at least 26 altercations and arrested 14 people during the game. C11.

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