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San Diegans: No Shame in You Taking the Blame

Downey’s California:

--Look, San Diego, don’t blame me for your town’s broken promises. I’m not the one who was awarded a Super Bowl three years and three months ago, by guaranteeing the NFL a 72,000-seat stadium by now. I wasn’t the one who made a presentation way back in 1993, promising to have a 60,000-seat stadium expanded by 1998.

Don’t be too chicken, San Diego, to blame the people who are really responsible.

This isn’t my fault. I’m not your mayor. I don’t own your Chargers. I’m not the architect or the construction foreman. I’m not the NFL commissioner. I’m not the NFL person in charge of reserving hotels, renting a party hall, printing tickets and organizing Super Bowl XXXII, still not knowing 11 months before kickoff if San Diego will be ready.

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This isn’t L.A.'s fault. We aren’t vultures, circling the carcass of your Super Bowl bid. We didn’t promise the NFL’s people a thing. You did.

This is between you and them. Clean up your own mess. All I wrote was L.A. is ready right now, so the NFL might as well move the game. Nobody here needs to hold a vote. Nobody here needs to build a thing. We can sell 104,000 tickets. Your people promised the NFL in 1993 that everything would be A-OK by now. It isn’t.

In 1988, by adding temporary seats, San Diego stuffed 73,302 people into Super Bowl XXII. Even at that, it was then the fourth-lowest attendance in Super Bowl history.

The NFL trusted San Diego. Your city’s representatives made a commitment to remodel your stadium. It still wouldn’t hold anything close to 104,000, but the NFL was willing to settle for 32,000 fewer. San Diego had done a fine job last time. The NFL enjoys its relationship with the city. Is it pro football’s fault, being anxious about the biggest sporting event in America?

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Stop passing the buck. Your argument is not with Los Angeles, or with me. Your argument is with those in your own community who haven’t come through for you.

I guess the next time San Diego names a stadium after a sportswriter, it won’t be after me. That’s life. But do you want a Super Bowl to be played in Jack Murphy? Do you want to keep the Chargers there? Then keep your word. Fix it.

--My early Super Bowl XXXII line: Green Bay Packers 35, Los Angeles Chargers 21.

--Last year, the Super Bowl’s losing quarterback quit his team. This year, the Super Bowl’s losing coach quit his team. Tough sport.

--To sign Bill Parcells as coach, the New York Jets might have to give the New England Patriots compensation. What could the New York Jets possibly have that would qualify as compensation? Certainly not a player.

--Mike Ditka, a Saint? There’s a contradiction.

--I predict it will be Week 4 or Week 5 when new Ram Coach Dick Vermeil realizes it’s now legal in pro football to go for two points after a touchdown.

--Deion Sanders is back in baseball. He intends to try both offense and defense.

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--Between Reggie White and George Foreman, remind me never to insult a preacher.

--The Raiders will coach Joe Bugel this season. I’m sorry, I might have this backward.

--I could sure use $200,000. If only Dennis Rodman would kick me.

--Hmmm, I wonder how quickly the Rev. Jesse Jackson would rush to Dennis Rodman’s defense if the Rev. Jackson were seated in the first row of a Bulls’ game, accidentally got in Rodman’s way and received a swift kick from Dennis while he was sitting there? (Oops, did I insult a preacher?)

--My favorite story of 1997, so far, is Tonya Harding’s agent saying she might skate for Bolivia. I think we all agree, this would be a sad, sad day in the long, fabled tradition of South American figure skating.

--In the National Hot Rod Assn. top alcohol funny car championships, the leading contenders for 1997 figure to be Tony Bartone, Pat Austin and Oksana Baiul.

--I don’t know if Jim Abbott should bat in interleague baseball. I doubt if he could hit more than four or five homers at Colorado.


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