Newhouse's take on Raiders vs City & County
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| By chris_d on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 02:13 pm:|
Some nice historical background here. It's hard to argue with Newhouse. I'm a huge Oakland Raiders fan, but hell, you can't sue everybody...can you?
Davis will try to charm jury during Raiders trial next week
THE SACRAMENTO TRIAL pitting Al Davis against East Bay politicians is moving slower than a 100-meter sprint between Frank Middleton and Mo Collins.
But the trial's pace quickens next week when Davis testifies he was defrauded by these same politicos in 1995. This should be interesting theater, because Davis feels he can charm a jury like no one else.
If character witnesses received Oscars, Davis would be Tom Hanks. Well, Davis has been in enough courtrooms. But he'll need his finest dramatic effort yet, because this trial has fared badly for his Oakland Raiders.
Raiders chief executive Amy Trask isn't Meryl Streep. Trask damaged the Raiders' already flagging case by testifying she hadn't read repeated newspaper articles reporting that the Network Associates Coliseum was not selling out prior to the team's first game back in Oakland in '95.
Trask told the court she only reads newspapers on airplanes going back to NFL owners' meetings. What a crock. Trask, an attorney, knows exactly what's said about the Raiders in newspapers. I've felt the chill of her sugar-and-ice personality more than once after something I've written.
But Raiders hierarchy is famous for fictionalizing the truth. Trask and senior assistant Bruce Allen have picked up this character trait from Davis, who won't ever admit making a mistake. It's always the fault of somebody else or some other conflict.
To all of Davis' defenders, including a blindly loyal Raider Nation, I've watched him close up for 39 years. I know his good points, and I've observed his bad points, as in how he stole the Raiders from Wayne Valley.
Valley provided Davis his big chance in football. Davis then went behind Valley's back, cajoling the team's other principal owner, the naive Ed McGah Sr.,
into signing a contract McGah hadn't even read, which gave Davis rollover power to work for the Raiders ... for life.
I've also seen Davis' charitable side, and how he has given minorities opportunities in modern-day football that weren't there before. Davis is, as Pete Rozelle described him best, a charming rogue. History looks kindly upon such men. But Davis won't ever charm me. I know him all too well.
That digression aside, I'm eager for Davis to take the witness stand next week, to see how he pulls the Raiders' case out of the wreckage.
Although I wasn't there, from what I'm told Jim Otto, Bill Walsh and Trask gave "B" acting performances on his behalf. On the other side, Ed DeSilva and George Vukasin weren't Academy Award winners either, although the Raiders wouldn't be in Oakland without their efforts.
But how will Davis counter the five witnesses who told him directly The Net wasn't sold out before he signed the 15-year lease? How will he convince the jury all five weren't telling the truth? By suing them, too?
Davis has lost some courtroom sharpness since attorney Joe Alioto died. And Davis' case could blow up right in his face when Raiders ticket manager Peter Eiges testifies. Eiges prepares the game-day ticket reports to the NFL. He can't play dumb and say he didn't know about the shortage of ticket sales. But did he also inform Davis, or why didn't he?
Davis' hole card hasn't changed, though. He appeals best to an outside-of-Oakland jury that doesn't really understand the dynamics of his dealings with the city and county. And when he turns on that artificial gee-whiz Southern accent, jurors are swayed and tend to side with him.
The sickening side of all this? It's how the East Bay, which Davis abandoned, rescued him from down south, and made him a wealthier man.
Then local taxpayers wound up footing the bill for the renovation of The Net. That's because the NFL's highest ticket prices, five years of bad football and the public's dislike of Davis held down attendance until Jon Gruden became the savior.
Davis then ran off Gruden, who got his revenge in the Super Bowl. And now Davis wants to slice $1.2 billion out of the East Bay's hide.
Or perhaps he just wants to win in Sacramento, break his lease and become one of the two teams the NFL wants to put in Los Angeles, where Davis left town a failure.
And people think Al Davis really is a good guy?
Dave Newhouse can be reached at (510) 208-6466 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .