Never one to mince words, Oakland Raider owner Al Davis testified Tuesday that he thought "there was something wrong" with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue after a Raider proposal to build a stadium at Hollywood Park could not be completed.
When, in June 1995, the Hollywood Park deal could not be consummated and Davis turned to authorities in Oakland about moving the team back there, Tagliabue sent Davis a letter setting forth NFL rules for a move. The letter also mentioned the possibility of working out a "litigation standstill."
On the stand in Los Angeles Superior Court for a second day in the Raiders' lawsuit against the league, Davis said he believed the league had previously adopted a threatening posture when it came to the possibility of a Raider move. What, he was asked, did he take the letter to mean?
"That he's gone," Davis said of Tagliabue, adding, "I think he's gone crazy," in particular because "we just got done being destroyed at Hollywood Park." Davis added a moment later, apparently for emphasis, "I thought there was something wrong with him."
Davis' comments enlivened a day that otherwise was marked by long stretches of repetitive testimony. Under questioning by Raider attorney Joseph M. Alioto, Davis went over ground that has been well covered in the case, now in its fifth week.
Alioto thus controlled the agenda, denying NFL attorney Allen Ruby the opportunity to begin cross-examination--and giving jurors another night to sleep on the Raider version of events.
At 3:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the usual close of testimony, Alioto finally ran out of questions--after asking Davis about winning an award as the Bay Area's sports "Man of the Century," an honor Davis said reflected the "excellence of the Raiders," not him. Alioto then asked Judge Richard Hubbell to call it quits for the afternoon.
Ruby, wanting those 10 minutes with Davis, objected, but Hubbell called it a day.
Outside court, Ruby said, "We heard this [material] yesterday. We heard it today. I suppose one could be thankful we won't hear it tomorrow."