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T.J. SIMERS

Behind the Tears, It Isn't an NFL Moving Moment

April 12, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

Al Davis is the only grown-up I know who carries a bib with him wherever he goes.

"I wear a lot of white, as you know, and I use it so I don't spill on myself," he told a reporter a few years back.

I know some adults who should use a bib, but there's just no good way to suggest something like that to your boss. You take that many breaks, the coffee's hot, you're not as steady on your feet as you were when you were a young man, and you spill all over yourself.

As you might imagine, I also go home at night, and my wife slobbers all over me.

Given his limited wardrobe, I can understand why Davis packs a bib, so when he laid a white towel across the front of the witness stand this week in a Los Angeles Superior Court, I wasn't surprised.

I just figured he was going to try to catch the drivel as he testified.

I guess Raider attorney Joe Alioto thought it would be unbecoming for the owner of the self-proclaimed most-intimidating football team known to mankind to have a bib on call, so he asked Davis to be a big boy and ditch it.

I think Al is now preparing to file a lawsuit against Alioto.

*

THE NICE THING about a bib is it can double as a crying towel, and after listening Monday and then again all day Wednesday to Poor Al tell a jury that no one likes him and everyone's out to get him, I began to feel a little weepy myself. Maybe if I'm sympathetic--he won't sue me.

On Monday, Poor Al told the jury the Broncos will make more than $40 million a year more than Oakland, and the Raiders just can't compete anymore with Denver. I've been saying that for years.

I'd suggest hiring Mike Shanahan if he wants to beat the Broncos, but upon reflection, I guess timing has never been one of Poor Al's strengths.

In fact, that has become very evident in this trial. I'm not really sure who is right or wrong in this hissy fit between the Raiders and the NFL, but it has become apparent Poor Al is incapable of making the right move. I believe Georgia Frontiere could teach him a thing or two.

*

IRWINDALE, OF COURSE, is at fault for a lot of this. When it paid Poor Al $10 million to consider a gravel pit a potential home, it enhanced Poor Al's reputation as a rip-off artist, which implies he knows what he's doing.

The record, however, shows otherwise. He might be a very rich man, but I think you would have to say he's a terrible businessman. He left Oakland originally for a bunch of money-making promises in Los Angeles that never materialized, and then began a courtship with Baltimore, Hartford, Hollywood Park and Oakland once again.

He could have had a new stadium for free in Baltimore, owned the state of Connecticut or played in a stadium built for him at Hollywood Park and had two Super Bowls by this time and 10,000 Super Bowl tickets to help sell luxury suites and club seats.

He also could have owned the Los Angeles area after the Rams left, but abandoned Southern California immediately to move back to Oakland and pocket $54 million in cash. Then he woke up and realized he was in Oakland.

The reason he is in Oakland, of course, is the central debate in this trial. Poor Al says the NFL has had it in for him ever since he beat the league in court sometime in the 1980s. I could be mistaken, but I think he's also on record as saying Mother Teresa was praying for the opposition before she passed away. For all I know, he probably thinks she's still conspiring against him.

Poor Al says the NFL sabotaged the Hollywood Park deal by suggesting it was going to place a second team in L.A. I believe the jury is still waiting for the NFL to place the first team in L.A.

*

THE NFL COUNTERS Poor Al's story of woe by suggesting he was making plans to return to Oakland at the same time he was negotiating with Hollywood Park. The NFL, while offering the best package of benefits it has ever offered to anyone in building a new stadium, believes that Poor Al made the decision to take the Oakland money and run.

Now as a rule, I don't ordinarily believe anything the NFL tells me, but then I listened to what Poor Al had to say, and he should be glad I wasn't called for jury duty.

He said he was prepared to move the Raiders to Oakland, all right, but only to play the 1995 and 1996 seasons while a new stadium was being built at Hollywood Park. He said the fans of L.A. would support such a ridiculous decision because no one likes the Los Angeles Coliseum.

He may have a point there, but such a suggestion makes no business sense and stretches the boundary of believability. Try and sell PSLs, club seats and luxury suites to a new L.A.-area football stadium, which would be the Raiders' lifeblood, while the hometown team is playing in Oakland.

This is the kind of thinking that makes Al feel so poor in the long run, prompting yet another escape plan. I just hope the NFL, as long it has him under oath, asks if he has any intention of moving back here any time soon.

If so, I hope the NFL immediately announces it's bringing a second team into the market.

*

YOU HAVE TO give the Lakers credit. Usually it's Isaiah Rider coming up with the farfetched stories to explain his whereabouts, but this time it's the Lakers, explaining that he's on the injured list because of back spasms.

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THE WALL STREET Journal is reporting that Disney has signed Tiger Woods, I would presume in a cost-cutting move to have him coach the Mighty Ducks as well as pitch for the Angels.

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I'M TOLD THE Kings tried real hard.

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

"I was at the Angels' home opener and thousands of fans left the stadium with a very bad taste in their mouths when they found out there were not enough posters and schedule magnets for everyone in attendance."

You must not be from California. I left early; I got mine.

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

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