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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

NFL Needs a Governor on Stadium Blackmail

November 17, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

If you love Dennis Miller, I know your first choice was Gray Davis, but NBC has elected to play it safe and has selected Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to be an announcer on its new pro wrestling phony football league, which is being billed as everything the NFL is not.

This is very interesting, because every so often when Ventura drops by his state, he does battle with the NFL's Vikings, and now he will have the national platform to drop a full body slam on them whenever he wishes.

Call it a coincidence, but on the same day Ventura was selling himself to the XFL, a group of NFL owners met and said they might move the Vikings out of the NFC Central Division in anticipation of the team leaving Minnesota.

You know what's coming next: 40 years ago we got the Minneapolis Lakers and that seemed to work out, and although this city might be overrun with purple and gold, what do you think of the Los Angeles Vikings?

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NFL OWNERS HAVE a June 1 deadline to realign the league into eight four-team divisions to begin play in 2002, and are expected to vote on a final proposal as early as March at their annual meetings in Palm Springs.

Placing the Vikings in the west is the NFL's way of igniting a war with Minnesota, using the threat of moving to L.A., or San Antonio, where Viking owner Red McCombs does his business, to get a new stadium. Vintage NFL blackmail.

"It would concern me to put the Central Division together the way it is," Packer President Bob Harlan told a Minnesota newspaper, "and then in a few years have the Vikings in a stadium situation and no longer be in Minnesota."

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HERE WE GO again. Last week's plague on our house came from Arizona.

However, a final Maricopa County moron tally indicated 52% of the vote agreed to give Cardinal owner Bill Bidwill the money to build a new stadium and stay in Arizona for 30 more years. That's hard time for the whole state.

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LAST MONTH THE EAGLES were on the horizon, ready to land in L.A. But Thursday a deal appeared to be near between the City Council and the team that will keep it in Philadelphia for 30 more years in a new stadium.

It has been a good month for the NFL's extortion efforts to secure new stadiums. There was no chance of losing the Chicago Bears to some other city as long as Cade McNown came along with the team, so city and team officials completed a deal this week to gut Soldier Field and build a new stadium on the same site.

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THE VIKINGS HAVE a lease for the Metrodome running through 2011, but they are looking for nearly $300 million in tax money for a new stadium that will give them the luxury boxes that other owners now have in their playpens.

Ventura went on the radio in the past week blasting the Vikings' owner for seeking public funds. It's believed by many that McCombs, known for his impatience and who bought and sold the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs, will sell the Vikings if he can not make any headway in securing a new stadium.

The NFL is turning up the heat on Minnesota to help McCombs, but remember these people think ice fishing is a form of recreation.

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I READ ABOUT how Laker Coach Phil Jackson likes to needle folks and carry on, and what do you think Kobe Bryant is doing to him?

You know it drives Jackson crazy when Kobe goes one-on-one with the basketball world, the ball flying here, there and everywhere.

And then Kobe comes on like he did in the fourth quarter and in overtime at Sacramento on Thursday night, and you know what Jackson's telling himself: Man, have I got a great job here.

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THE WAY I have it calculated, UC Davis, a Division II football program, would be a four-point favorite to beat USC in a game at Toomey Field according to Jeff Sagarin's NCAA ratings, which are used by USA Today.

I'm sure the Aggies would disagree, feeling they could blow out the Trojans after compiling a 10-0 record and watching USC play, but Sagarin presently has UC Davis ranked No. 46 in his poll, and USC at No. 51.

According to his ratings, UCLA should beat USC by 10 Saturday.

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PURDUE, WITH THE fourth-ranked passing team in the nation and Drew Brees at quarterback, will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl if it can defeat Indiana, which is presently ranked 113 of 114 ranked teams in pass defense.

If Oregon beats Oregon State, the Ducks advance, but it won't happen. The Beavers will win, and Washington will play Purdue after beating Washington State.

If there's a need for more ushers, the Trojans will get in.

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I BELIEVE ON his last birthday Met pitcher Rick Reed turned 62, but reports out of New York say the Dodgers are not only willing to shower him with millions of dollars, but want to do it for three years, which will allow Reed to wait before collecting social security.

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IT'S NO JOKE when they say Arizona keeps the heat on its coaches. The Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Arizona State have all fired their coaches, and now the University of Arizona's Dick Tomey is rumored on his way out.

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I SUGGEST ALEX Rodriguez be sent to his private office without catered dinner for finishing only third in the American League MVP voting.

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MY FAVORITE FOOTBALL team is the University of Kentucky.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Rhana:

"I am a struggling writer. Do you have any suggestions on how to get a great writing gig such as the one you have?"

Find out what the really big boss' favorite team is and claim it as your own--even though Kentucky stinks.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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