Davis is doing a poor imitation of a genius


January 05, 1992|By VITO STELLINO

Maybe it's time to start calling Al Davis a suineg.

That's genius spelled backward.

Davis, the Los Angeles Raiders' managing general partner, always makes sure his team biography includes the word genius, but he's been anything but one lately.

He dumped quarterback Steve Beuerlein on the Dallas Cowboys and watched Beuerlein win a playoff game Sunday in Chicago after Todd Marinovich lost one for the Raiders the previous day in Kansas City in his second start as a pro. Marinovich was too inexperienced for a role that Beuerlein handled easily.

Then there are Davis' continuing woes with the renovation of the Los Angeles Coliseum. When the Raiders moved from Oakland 10 years ago, a renovation was included in the deal.

When Los Angeles reneged two years ago, Davis almost moved back to Oakland. But a deal was put together to renovate the stadium with private funds.

Last week, that deal all but collapsed. The $175 million renovation was put on hold because fewer than 1,000 of the planned minimum 10,000 club seats -- at a cost of $3,600 a year -- have been sold.

After a decade in Los Angeles, Davis is left with an aging coliseum. Will he threaten to move once again? Stay tuned.

Davis, though, still has one thing going for him. He's the league's master of intrigue.

When something strange is going on in the NFL, the temptation is to blame Al Davis.

So, it's not surprising that there's speculation in Tampa that Davis played a role in Bill Parcells' surprising decision to turn down the five-year, $6.5 million offer to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The way this theory goes, it was Davis who persuaded Parcells to renege. He's close to Parcells and is still angry at Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse for firing former Raiders aide Ron Wolf, who's now the Green Bay Packers general manager, after two years in the 1970s. Davis could have convinced Parcells he didn't want to work for Culverhouse at any price.

Nobody knows if there's any truth to this theory, but it makes as much sense as any other explanation.

Parcells always wanted total control of a franchise, and when he finally had a chance to get it, he backed away.

The decision was so inexplicable that it's easy to blame Davis. It's part of his mystique that NFL people think he's always up to something.


Not their Buddy: The Los Angeles Rams seem to have cooled on rambunctious Buddy Ryan. The Rams didn't get too many glowing recommendations when they called around the league. Ryan wins, but he gives an owner heartburn while he's doing it. Former Seattle Seahawks coach Chuck Knox now seems to be the Rams' leading choice.

However, Parcells' rejection of Culverhouse may give Ryan a second chance, even though the Bucs turned him down last year after he was fired in Philadelphia.

Culverhouse, desperate for a name coach, interviewed Sam Wyche, who was fired, or quit, in Cincinnati last week. Culverhouse will talk to Ryan this week, and Culverhouse might figure he can put up with him. The Bucs need to stir some interest in their franchise, and there's never a dull moment when Ryan's around.

Tampa Bay may be Ryan's only shot, because none of the other five teams that have vacancies -- the Rams, Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers and Packers -- seems interested.

The Rams appear to want Knox and the Seahawks want Tom Flores to move from the GM job to the sidelines. There doesn't seem to be a clear favorite in Minnesota or Pittsburgh.


Ted again: The Indianapolis Colts can't lose any more games until next season, but they're still doing things that have people around the league shaking their heads.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported last week that Jimmy Irsay, the son of owner Bob Irsay, wants to hire Ted Marchibroda, the Buffalo Bills assistant. Yes, the same Marchibroda they fired a decade ago. Bob Irsay is said to be balking. The Colts say only that Marchibroda is on their list.

Meanwhile, interim coach Rick Venturi is twisting in the wind. He's still a candidate, too.


Come out charging: Don't be surprised if Bobby Ross, the former Maryland coach, makes a quick turnaround in San Diego. He has a fifth-place schedule that includes two games against the Colts and one each against the Bucs and Phoenix Cardinals. If he sweeps those four, he could 5-7 in the other 12 and be 9-7.

Denver used the fifth-place schedule as a springboard from 5-11 to 12-4.


Get 'em while they're hot: Baltimore will begin its ticket-selling campaign this week for the exhibition game in August between the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins. Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke are scheduled to attend a news conference at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, when plans will be outlined to open the campaign on Jan. 25, the day before the Super Bowl.

The fans who sent in postcards will be given the chance to purchase the tickets -- which have an average price of $25 -- by mail before then.

Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he hopes to sell out the game quickly.

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