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In Search of Raider Jury, a.k.a. 'The Dirty Dozen'

March 08, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

In the interest of fairness, the first step in the trial pitting the Raiders against the NFL in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday was to ask all prospective jurors to pass through metal detectors.

That eliminated all Raider fans from the jury pool.

As for the judge, one of our reporters will be checking the "ethics form" the judge is required to fill out every year to see if he was a Raider season-ticket holder in 1994. If you notice, he dresses in black.

I believe the judge's last name is Hubbell, so going down the list--and bear with me it's a couple of pages long--I don't believe he's one of Georgia Frontiere's former husbands, so there's no NFL conflict there.


I'M TOLD THEY started with a jury pool of 106 of L.A. County's finest citizens, and after asking all XFL fans to leave because the XFL is on record as blasting the NFL, I'm told they were left with 106.

Anyone who admitted buying a ticket to see "The Replacements," of course, was asked to immediately leave because they've already demonstrated a lack of good judgment. That left 73. I've been assured J.R. Rider and Lamar Odom were not among those weeded out.

If they start eliminating football fans who don't like the Raiders, that's going to leave us with a pool of people who don't know anything about football--you know, soccer or hockey fans--deciding L.A.'s football fate.

It's an interesting question, though. Take someone who knows nothing about football--Mayor Richard Riordan would be a good choice--and say he's listening to Al Davis and Paul Tagliabue for the very first time: Which one would he believe?

Each juror was given a questionnaire to fill out before leaving Wednesday, and was asked to return Monday to find out if he's clueless enough to qualify as a juror. From what I understand, none of the jurors had to be told to avoid reading reporter Alan Abrahamson's stories in The Times. Some things go without saying.

The Times, however, has gone to great expense to train Abrahamson for this projected 45-day trial, sending him to Africa for weeks to practice writing about things no one cares about. You should prepare yourself, though: You will be getting a story on how Kenya feels about football in L.A.


I TOOK A LOOK at the Raiders' witness list, and noticed "Allen Davis" was on there as an "expert." I would think if the Raiders were going to call an expert it would be Jon Gruden, but you know how Davis likes to meddle.

They tell me the only way NFL owners, who are on the Raiders' witness list, can be compelled to testify is if the court catches them in California and serves them with a subpoena. I guess that means the league's annual meetings in Palm Desert beginning March 24 will be overrun by process servers.

If Art Modell (Baltimore), Bud Adams (Tennessee) and Michael McCaskey (Chicago)--you know, the ones most likely to make fools of themselves on the stand--suddenly decide to take 45-day vacations in Africa, Abrahamson will know how to find them. If they don't appear in court, however, then the Raiders will have to read the depositions they gave earlier into the court records. I'd suggest using the Raiderettes to keep the jury's attention.


NOW WHAT DOES all this mean to L.A., and its chances to have a professional football team again? If you listen to the Raiders, everything, and to the NFL, nothing. As a rule, I try not to listen to either of them.

If the Raiders win, they'll get lots of money from the other owners. Davis, of course, gave up trying to win Super Bowls long ago in favor of going to court and making money. This is known in the business world as "picking on the poor saps." If you've met Modell, Adams and McCaskey, you know what I'm talking about.

The Raiders believe the momentum from an L.A. victory will propel them to a Sacramento Superior Court win later this year, which would force Oakland officials to rip up the Raiders' stadium lease and make them a free agent.

If the Raiders don't win in Sacramento, they aren't going anywhere--no matter what happens in L.A.

If they become free agents, keep in mind the Raiders consider themselves coveted like a Brett Favre, whereas I view them more like a Ryan Leaf. The Raiders believe if they were free to return to L.A., a welcoming committee of fans, politicians and business leaders would be waiting. This makes me wonder if Davis has been hanging around with Rider and Odom.

If the NFL wins, of course, everything remains status quo, allowing the league to start thinking up new ways to rip off the people of L.A.


THE FIRST THING Laker Coach Phil Jackson said Wednesday night, while surrounded by the media: "Flies on the old manure pile."

Phil's much tougher on his team than I would be.


IF HE'S GOING to keep playing, I just hope when training camp opens, Troy Aikman remembers he was waived by the Cowboys.


FIRST SHAQ SAID he wanted Lucy Liu. Now he wants Anna Kournikova. He also wanted the ball from Kobe. Talk about a dreamer.


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

"Why is it, that in each of your columns, you claim to give us the last word, and then you take it?"

You're very perceptive--I never noticed that until you mentioned it.


T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:

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