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The Inside Track | T.J. SIMERS

Raiders Remain X Factor in L.A. Story--but Why?

September 07, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Houston unveiled the name of its new NFL team Wednesday--the Texans.

Not to be outdone, the new Los Angeles wrestling football team today will work out a former 49er stiff, quarterback Jim Druckenmiller.

In a city that has made it clear--who needs the NFL?--Lkcos Angeles is now driving home the point by going after players the NFL no longer needs.

That'll show 'em.

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IN THE LONG run, after the Raiders return, this will give Los Angeles two football teams overloaded with NFL rejects.

Yes, the Raider scare is here once again--more so now than ever before--with favorable updates recently for the Raiders from courts in Sacramento and L.A. on lawsuits that might ultimately free the team to go wherever it wants.

Hades would seem to be the best place for the Raiders, but I believe they have designs on your very own backyard, which will bring them that much closer to your women and children.

It appears now the Raiders could secure a $1.1-billion victory at Oakland's expense because officials did not fulfill promises to owner Al Davis. Not fulfilling one's promises always seems to rankle Davis, and if it isn't that, then it's always something else that rankles him and leads to a lawsuit, which he wins. This is where the expression "paying the devil his due" originated.

An announcement is expected Sept. 19 to set the L.A. trial date for the Raiders' case against the NFL, which includes charges that NFL owners sabotaged the Raiders' Hollywood Park stadium deal.

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SO WHAT'S ALL this mean? This may all be headed toward a massive settlement, saving money for Oakland, freeing the Raiders, and teaming Davis and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who would force themselves on L.A.--as soon as next year.

The NFL believes the Bay Area cannot support two teams, and if the Raiders win their lease freedom from Oakland, the league would allow the team's return to L.A. and provide

$150 million toward construction of a new stadium here.

This would allow the 49ers to play in the Oakland Coliseum while work was done on a new football stadium in San Francisco.

L.A. would be promised two future Super Bowls, and the Raiders would be allowed to use those Super Bowl promises to sell personal seat licenses to raise additional funds for stadium construction.

L.A. would have an NFL team, the league would not have to expand, and there would no longer be a tug of war for the Bay Area corporate dollar.

And where would the Raiders play in L.A? The Raiders would like interested parties in L.A. to start jockeying for position to curry Davis' favor, which would give him leverage to win a better deal. I would imagine officials from Irwindale are already scrambling to put a new pitch together.

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IS THIS SOMETHING Los Angeles should embrace?

Would you want to hug a Raider fan? Could you do that without being impaled on one of their spikes? How soon before you could shower?

Do you think Davis is going to change the way he does business? Do you think the team is going to change its image and the kind of fans it attracts?

More important, wouldn't you want the public official or local businessman who tries to make a deal with Davis checked into a local hospital for observation? I say let the devil rot in Oakland.

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KANSAS CITY COACH Gunther Cunningham opened the season 0-1, prompting Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock to write, "[General Manager] Carl Peterson should ask for Cunningham's resignation today. . . . Stick a fork, a knife and a pink slip in Cunningham. His credibility in Kansas City is burned up."

It's a good thing Davey Johnson isn't the Royals' manager.

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DODGER CARLOS PEREZ is guaranteed to earn $7.5 million next year. The nice thing is if the Dodgers miss a payment, the opposition will chip in.

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CHINA HAS ANNOUNCED that 40 athletes and coaches will not be attending the Olympics because of failed blood tests.

I think you could say there are a million people in the United States who don't care.

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IF YOU'RE LOOKING for someone who has no clue, locate the names of the 59 coaches who vote in the USA Today/ESPN football poll, and start guessing.

The Nittany Lions received three votes from some numskull after losing to both USC and Toledo, and I know what you're thinking, if you're looking for someone with no clue who's probably a real numskull, what about USC's Paul Hackett? But I didn't go to UCLA, so I don't think that way.

Although I checked, and his name was not on the list.

We'll never know which coach is so out of touch because coaches are gutless, while sportswriters are courageous. The coaches' vote is secret, while the writers in the AP poll are subject to having their votes made public.

Let's say you have allegiance to USC, which makes you a really fine person, and you noticed this week one of the 71 AP poll writers placed UCLA first. You'd want to e-mail someone about that, so I can tell you it was San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jake Curtis who gave UCLA his first-place vote.

I'm not one to second-guess, so I have no comment on such a ridiculous vote, but I can tell you none of the writers voted for Penn State.

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ATLANTA'S CHIPPER JONES hit two home runs off Arizona's Randy Johnson on Sept. 5. Jones also hit two homers off Johnson last Sept. 5.

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I READ THERE are transit problems in Sydney: "Hundreds of passengers were forced to wait hours for shuttle buses."

I am very concerned.

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

"Your cop-out explanation for picking Alabama and criticizing UCLA football is a joke."

Thank you, I was hoping someone would get it.

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

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