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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Justice Done as Ferraro Gets His Day in Court

October 12, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

I've got a problem with Pope John Paul II.

Same thing with Billy Graham and John F. Kennedy.

Get 'em out.

Not one of them had to sit through a USC defeat or brush shoulders with an unwashed Raider fan, and yet here they are, getting the "Washington slept here" treatment in the Coliseum's Court of Honor.

Here's how ridiculous it is. You mention the Pope, Graham, Kennedy and John Ferraro in the same sentence, and of course Ferraro doesn't belong with the worldwide icons, but standing here on his home turf in the Peristyle, this giant of a man who has been the longtime president of the Los Angeles City Council belongs here more than any of them.

On Wednesday they officially unveiled Ferraro's bronze likeness to hang in the Court of Honor, and while they had to waive the rule that Ferraro must be dead before being appreciated, he had to suffer through another one of Mayor Richard Riordan's speeches.

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EVERYBODY SAID NICE things about Ferraro--even some of his closest friends, like Zev Yaroslavsky, the president of the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, who identified Ferraro as a great UCLA lineman.

Ferraro, of course, was a great USC lineman, who began a kinship with the Coliseum when he purchased a ticket in 1939, later getting a scholarship to school next door and playing in four Rose Bowls.

"I can state it flatly, the 1984 Olympics would not have been held in L.A. without John Ferraro," said John Argue, a very nice thing to say for the chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, and himself a driving force behind the 1984 Olympic bid. "There is no better place to honor John Ferraro than from here, looking down on the Coliseum field."

And that's where the Pope and his big-shot buddies muck things up, their notoriety being their only Coliseum accomplishment and diminishing Ferraro's lifetime achievements, which have been captured--engaging grin and all--in a plaque crafted by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad.

Ferraro spent 21 years going to Coliseum Commission meetings, and the only thing I can imagine that would be any worse would be being trapped in an hourlong conversation with Mark Ridley-Thomas. OK, a 20-minute conversation.

The Pope dropped by the building for one day in his life, and his likeness is here forever. Thanks for the memories.

Graham spent a week here, and is immortalized because he drew the largest crowd--134,254. Imagine the lines for the women's bathroom that day.

Kennedy is here because he accepted the Democratic nomination for president, and since he apparently said nothing memorable that day, they had to go with portions of his inaugural speech on his plaque.

According to policy, the plaques are to "honor athletes, coaches or contributors to the world of sports, who have distinguished themselves in, or added to the history and glory of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum."

That's quite a reach--not far enough that Conrad will ever be sculpting the likeness of Paul Hackett or Bob Davie, but I'm not sure the Pope & Co. could be considered athletes, coaches or contributors to the world of sports.

Why not make it hallowed ground that actually stands for something besides who can draw the most paying customers. Hang a picture of the crowds that greeted the Pope, Graham and Kennedy, if that's that important.

But then make it a real Court of Honor for the living such as Peter Ueberroth, Argue and Ferraro, who dedicated a portion of their lives to better L.A and what might go on in the Coliseum. And make it a memorial for the greats of the past who have contributed so much.

But do so without asking Riordan to speak every time.

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I WAS GOING to suggest the Dodgers seek permission to interview Eddie Murray just to see if he would answer any of their questions.

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THE KINGS GAVE a baseball cap to everyone at the team's home opener Wednesday night, and many of those caps hit the ice after Luc Robitaille scored his 1,000th point as a King.

The Kings were pleased by this, because after sweeping them up, they can now have another free cap night.

By the way, the Kings didn't expect this from Robitaille when they selected him as the 171st player in the 1984 draft. They had higher hopes for the 69th player selected--Tom Glavine.

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I DON'T KNOW, maybe he thought Daniel Snyder had some pull with the clemency officials, but Bobby Lee Ramdass made the following final statement before being executed Tuesday night in Virginia for the killing of a store clerk eight years ago.

"Redskins are going to the Super Bowl," he said.

I guess he'll never know.

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IN THE PAST, you could count on the Eagles putting you to sleep.

"The fans' mind-altering chemical of choice at Eagles' games this season is not reefer, but nitrous oxide," according to a story in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Fans have been taking snorts of laughing gas from basketball-sized balloons filled with the stuff. Five dollars is not enough to catch the first bus out of town, so people have been using it to purchase the balloons in the stadium parking lots.

Local authorities say it's legal because the use or sale of nitrous oxide is unregulated, and it's probably a good thing to have everyone in Philadelphia under mild anesthesia.

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

"What's this about the Chargers maybe playing in the Rose Bowl? I'm sure residents are gonna complain about all that traffic--especially if both fans arrive at the same time."

Wait until the game's over and they litter the neighborhood with the paper bags they had over their heads.

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

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