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Inside the NFL | Sam Farmer ON THE NFL

The Coliseum's Preserve Clause

September 27, 2003|Sam Farmer

Paul Tagliabue made a stunning admission two weeks ago, something that took a lot of guts for the NFL commissioner.

He acknowledged the existence of the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Furthermore, he said league staffers had actually spoken to Coliseum officials. This qualifies as news, considering NFL team owners have viewed the stadium the way they might a piece of used bubble gum under their Italian loafers.

The Coliseum has made up a lot of ground in recent months in the bid to bring the NFL back to L.A. Coliseum officials received a letter this week from the board of the L.A. Conservancy, the nation's largest historic preservation organization, promising its "qualified support" of the most recent renovation proposal. Preservationists like the plans for the outside of the stadium, although they want more to be done to keep the bowl shape intact as well as retaining some of the other interior historic elements.

Coliseum backers look at that letter as casually as they would, say, a papal blessing.

"This isn't an inch, this is a mile," said Pat Lynch, the venue's general manager, adding this was the first time he could remember getting such an endorsement in writing, surpassing even the positive discussions Coliseum backers had with preservationists during the bid for an expansion team in 1999.

"Our board ... appreciated the project team's efforts to minimize the scale of the new addition, and to leave portions of the historic seating intact and visible to retain the form and sense of a bowl," Linda Dishman, executive director of the L.A. Conservancy, wrote in a letter to Coliseum officials obtained Friday by The Times. "The board noted that the scale and massing of the proposed addition is much more limited than the dramatic intrusions introduced at Chicago's historic Soldier Field."

By getting the backing of historic preservationists -- along with setting the parameters for a third party to run the stadium, and completing the environmental-impact report -- Coliseum officials appear to have cleared three significant hurdles.

Like it or hate it, the aging stadium isn't going away.

*

Television cameras caught Raider quarterback Rich Gannon screaming and gesturing wildly at second-year offensive coordinator Marc Trestman during Monday's embarrassing loss at Denver.

Gannon gave something of a repeat performance when he met with the media Wednesday, blowing up when a young radio reporter asked him about talk of a quarterback change.

"If that's what you want to do, go ahead," Gannon growled. "Do you think that's the answer?"

No, the reporter answered.

"Then why are you asking me about it? ... What do you want me to do? You want me to sit here answering questions about the quarterback situation?"

No, the reporter answered.

"Well, then, why are you asking me about it?"

To get your response, the reporter said, adding it seemed too early to be talking about such things.

"Well, then, don't ask me about it."

Just another cheery day in Alameda.

*

Who would want to be named most valuable player? Look at the post-MVP track record of the last six winners: Gannon, Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Warner, Terrell Davis and Barry Sanders (who shared it in 1997 with Brett Favre).

Gannon is off to a horrible start. Warner has been benched in favor of Marc Bulger. Faulk, a shadow of the running back he once was, is sidelined while he recovers from knee surgery and a broken bone in his hand. Davis and Sanders retired far earlier than people thought they would.

*

Walter Jones, Seattle's starting left tackle, has discovered a way to get in shape and cut down on the high cost of gasoline. He works out in the off-season by pushing his Cadillac Escalade around with his brother-in-law behind the wheel.

Actually, Jones doesn't move the 7,000-pound vehicle too far, only in short bursts on a flat street in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. It was a regular part of his off-season regimen, and he worked up to pushing it nine times over 1 1/2 hours.

"Once you get it going, it goes pretty good," said Jones, adding that it was about the same as trying to push SUV-sized teammate Norman Hand around at practice.

*

Entering Week 4, six teams are on course for a 4-0 start. Denver, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Seattle are 3-0. Carolina is 2-0.

If they all get to 4-0, it will be the first time in NFL history that has been accomplished. In 1968, five teams started 4-0.

*

The Chargers have suspended receiver David Boston for Sunday's game at Oakland, denying the world a low-down showdown between the NFL's two biggest numbskulls -- Boston and Raider kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

Not to worry, though, there's an undercard: San Francisco's Terrell Owens and Minnesota's Randy Moss will face each other -- as much as opposing receivers can face each other -- when the 49ers play at Minnesota on Sunday.

*

Arizona Coach Dave McGinnis, evidently feeling giddy in the wake of upsetting Green Bay, enlivened his Monday news conference with some interesting diagnoses of his banged-up receivers.

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