DeBartolo-Policy Raiders ludicrous


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Jan 22, 2006
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DeBartolo-Policy Raiders ludicrous

JOHN LENNON had it right. Despite the many pleas, enticements and cash-on-the-barrel-head offers to reunite the Beatles after their break-up, he wouldn't hear of it. They'd done what they did, and did it in such a way that trying to do it again would be a sure-fire letdown.

He was right. Fifteen years after his death, the three surviving Beatles released the single "Free As a Bird" and proved him right all over again.

We bring this up because somewhere, even as we speak, sunshine boys Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy are cooking up a scheme to get back into the NFL ownership/management game. Now, if this were all there was to this story, it still would qualify as a spectacularly misguided inclination.

Misguided, because the two of them already have played the NFL ownership/management game. Moreover, they did it in a way as to mock the very concept of an encore, winning a then-unprecedented five Super Bowls with still-unprecedented brevity (14 seasons). And while Policy wasn't along for the entire ride, his physical resemblance to Eddie the D is such that it seems he was there the whole time.

See, it's just about impossible to top yourselves after you've topped everybody else. More to the point, it's a different game now. Sure, Policy earned a reputation as a skilled manipulator of the salary cap. But he left fires of suspicious origin in San Francisco that weren't extinguished until three years after he'd left for Cleveland.

And let's not forget that DeBartolo jump-started the 49ers dynasty in the pre-cap era, when a guy could make a pile of million-dollar bills the size of Jesse Sapolu's head, shove it to the center of the table, and force the Saints, Falcons and Rams to fold their hands sight unseen.

A DeBartolo-Policy reunion tour, then, would be like a fumble-rooskie off a triple reverse -- a whale of an idea until you sit down and think on it for more than a minute or two.

But the part that sends this idea careening into the realm of lampoon is this: According to a story in Sports Illustrated, DeBartolo and Policy have set their sights on acquiring the Raiders and moving the team to Los Angeles.

Now, perhaps you are having trouble wrapping your cognitive functions around the bizarre nature of this quest. Try this: Imagine John Lennon reuniting the Beatles for the express purpose of covering Tiny Tim's greatest hits.

OK. You're there.

Another thing you must do to fully appreciate this nut-burgery is to overlook the fact that this is not going to happen. No way. Raiders CEO Amy Trask, with Hall of Fame-quality dismissive sarcasm, has informed the world that Al Davis would cancel his subscription to Serial Litigators Quarterly before he'd sell the Raiders, and that he'd break bread with Marcus Allen before he'd sell to DeBartolo and Policy.

Even if Davis were to become incapacitated (or worse), Trask insists that a custodial plan is in place to sustain the franchise in the manner to which Raiders fans have become (all too) accustomed.

But what if? What if DeBartolo and Policy could find the money and the persuasive powers to buy the team from the man who has defined it for the past 40 years? It would be nothing less than Leo Durocher leaving the Brooklyn Dodgers to join the New York Giants -- except with tattoos and fine wine.

Imagine the contempt Raiders fans would have for Policy, probably the only man ever to tell biker jokes using seven-syllable words. Or for DeBartolo, who trumped each of the Raiders' past two Super Bowl victories with one of his own the following season.

Imagine the two look-a-likes confronted with something less than a fawning fan base and packing something less than the moral authority implicitly granted by five Super Bowl trophies. It would be like mixing chocolate and beer. And that's before the part where they try to move the team back south.

DeBartolo and Policy, once kings of all they surveyed in Northern California, would be chased to Southern California by the hyphenated invectives of all right-thinking Bay Area sports fans. When they reached the L.A. city limits, they would be greeted with something worse than ill will:


Sure, you'd think that any representative of the 49ers, who beat a steady rat-a-tat-tat upon the heads of the Rams throughout the 1980s, would have earned the scorn of people who once bought tickets to those games. But remember, the Rams bolted for St. Louis more than 10 years ago. And there weren't many locals throwing themselves in front of the bus when it left the station.

DeBartolo and Policy would be just another pair of wild-eyed dreamers in La-La Land. It's worked before -- Koufax and Drysdale, Rowan and Martin, Mickey and Goofy -- but you wouldn't bet real money on it working for the sunshine boys.

It would, however, be pure fun watching them try. Because nothing entertains quite like someone who believes he invented fire struggling to light a victory cigar.

Contact Gary Peterson at [email protected].
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