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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

By Chance, He Already Owns Raider Bandwagon

November 29, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

I would like to apologize to the Rams if, by chance, there was a misunderstanding how we felt about their making it to the Super Bowl last year.

It was a very emotional time and, I don't know, maybe there were some jokers out there who had a problem with it, but I think we're all in agreement now that it would be good for everyone if the Raiders went on to play in the Super Bowl.

As I always say, let bygones be bygones.

In fact, I'm excited. I get chills thinking about the Rams and Raiders playing in the Super Bowl, Al Davis asking Georgia Frontiere for the first dance to kick off the annual commissioner's party two nights before the big game, everyone in a circle around the lovely couple as they move around the floor.

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NOW MAYBE SOME of you were slow to warm to the rejuvenated Rams, but let me say, I was the first on my block to buy a black Honda Accord with silver trim, so I'm no Johnny-come-lately to embracing the silver and black.

Fact is, I've done my part in this push to greatness. I can't say I was the first to suggest to Coach Jon Gruden that he go after Chief quarterback Rich Gannon, although I would not be surprised if that was the case. I just remember our first meeting, and buying the beer for Gruden so he could avoid the embarrassment of being carded.

I remember we were playing golf in Arizona, and I asked him if he had a cell phone--concerned that Davis might be calling all day to tell him what club to use. I noticed he didn't laugh. I remember beating him that day too, but it's been a long time, and maybe I lost and beat Rick Neuheisel later. I get those blond guys mixed up.

Anyway, I saw all those scowls and funny faces long before TV fell in love with him, and I swear that on one hole he gave such a dirty look to the ball it jumped from behind a tree. I knew right then he was born to coach the Raiders.

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NOW, I CAN'T openly say I'm rooting for the Raiders, because in this business, we have an obligation to be objective, but our guys must maintain the home-field advantage to get to Tampa. This will not only scare the opposition--their nervousness leading to many turnovers--but it will be an economic boon to our Northern California neighbors, what with the extra police, ambulances, jail keepers, hospitals, doctors and nurses who will have to be put to use.

As good as things are going, Davis might make enough money this year to pay the $225,000 in salary he failed to give Denver Coach Mike Shanahan after firing him, and once paid off, maybe Shanahan won't be so determined to beat every last penny out of the guy.

The Raiders are so hot, they might sell out the stadium if enough fans from L.A. make the trek north. And what a party it will be in the Black Hole, the liquor flowing, fans lost in drunken stupors, willing now to fight and keep their warriors in Oakland no matter what the cost. A love story, if you will.

Imagine the scene, the opposing team's bus pulling into the parking lot, the fans coming together to rock the massive vehicle. the spiked and growling Raider fans plastered against the windows. You think Jay Fiedler is going to get off that bus?

If it will help the Raiders, I'm sure we could even interview the Charger fan stabbed by a Raider fan a few weeks ago. That should cut down on the other team's fans traveling to the game.

As it is now, it takes two police forces, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and the Oakland Police Department, to provide the more than 120 armed lawmen required to keep order on a regular-season Sunday.

With the built-in tension the playoffs provide, I'm sure the opposition could be rattled further if we let it slip that the National Guard will be on call. Shoot, this could be the first AFC title game decided by a forfeit--the other team failing to show up. Go Raiders! And keep on going . . .

If we can help, we're here for you.

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SOME OF THE Clippers, such as Lamar Odom and Jeff McInnis, brought their intensity to Staples Center to play the Lakers.

Tyrone Nesby brought a bundle of big, heavy jackets--in full Laker colors--and hung them in his Clipper locker, no doubt eager for the contest to end so he could deliver his "Nes" wear--like some kind of civilian groupie--to each of the Lakers in person.

Maybe that explains why he made only one of nine shots in 25 minutes against the Lakers.

Nesby not only passed out jackets to the Lakers after the Clippers had lost, but took pictures of Shaquille O'Neal, Rick Fox and Kobe Bryant.

Asked to talk about this Tuesday, Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry was not happy.

"You come into that arena and see all that purple and then you go into your own locker room and see it hanging in the locker," he said. "Can you imagine Kevin McHale telling James Worthy, 'I got a jacket for you.' It would be something if they spoke to each other."

An hour later, Gentry called back to say the team had traded Nesby to Washington. "Maybe he can give those guys blue, red and white jackets," he said.

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