PREGAME PREDICTION: TRIBE 35, BIDWILL 0
Steve Krafft, a reporter with Channel 10, asked last Friday if I'd print the Unabomber's lengthy manuscript.
This is the sort of question that's supposed to stump journalists. There will be convention panels on this weighty matter all year long.
Earlier in the week, the Unabomber had threatened to blow up a plane in Los Angeles. Now the madman claimed if the press would just publish his diatribe, he would not detonate any explosives in the cargo holds of jets.
Would I run the Unabomber's work in New Times, wondered Krafft, or would I risk the lives of innocent airline travelers?
Would Bill Bidwill be one of the passengers?
Bidwill moved one of the worst teams in the history of pro sports to Phoenix and promptly raised his Cardinals ticket prices to the highest in the NFL. He's been whining about his treatment here ever since.
Bidwill made noises early last week about moving his football team, the Arizona Cardinals, to Los Angeles. With the departure of the Rams and the Raiders, Los Angeles, the second-largest market in the country, has no football team.
Has any American city ever said it did not want an NFL team?
Los Angeles has. The word came back from L.A. authorities. They were not interested in Bidwill or his Cardinals.
They thought having Bidwill and the Cardinals would only make things worse.
The sentiment in L.A. was pretty much summed up by Hugh Grant's special friend, Divine Brown, who was quoted as saying she simply would not do Bill Bidwill.
"I'm a whore, I know whores. He's a whore," said Ms. Divine.
Rebuffed by Los Angeles, Bidwill next appeared in the press linked to the idea that he would move his team out of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The Cardinals owner, said the papers, might move the team into a domed complex on an Indian reservation.
Isn't that wonderful?
Bidwill, who inherited his money and this team from his daddy, figures the tribes are awash in greenbacks because of casino gambling on the reservation. So Indians, America's newest croupiers, will finance Bidwill's domed stadium instead of taxpayers.
The very day that Bidwill's Indian scheme was floated in the press, a civil racketeering suit centered on the Fort McDowell reservation's casino also made the news.
The suit claims a million dollars in kickbacks was running out the back door of the Indian casino, and when managers announced an investigation into charges of gambling corruption, tribal leaders fired the whistle-blowers. Two days later, 17 dealers and other gaming workers were belatedly fired when their criminal backgrounds were finally made public.
Of course, we all know where any marriage between Bill Bidwill and Indian gaming interests will end up:
THIS JUST IN OFF THE SPORTS WIRE!
Two coaches with the Arizona Cardinals have been named in a still-sealed federal grand jury indictment, according to sources in the United States Attorney's Office in Phoenix.
Rex Ryan, linebacker coach, and his brother Rob, defensive back coach, were accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in bribes.
The alleged payoffs were made by gamblers trying to beat the point spread on NFL games in a multimillion-dollar point-fixing scam originating within a reservation casino.
Both Ryans denied any wrongdoing but refused any further comment, referring all questions to their father, Buddy Ryan, head coach of the Cardinals.
The elder Ryan brushed off the charges.
"At least my sons weren't busted for peeing in the gutter like Fife Symington's boys," said Ryan.
Bill Bidwill quickly disappeared from sight after he moved here. Bidwill's intentions, much like papal succession, have been communicated via smoke puffs.
What will the great man do next? Read the clouds.
Bidwill, who cannot communicate with white people, will now try his luck negotiating with Indians.
I want to be there.
The guys who own professional sports teams routinely hose their fans. We either get a lousy team like the Cardinals or we get to subsidize arenas for good teams like the Suns. Sometimes, we're real lucky and get both, like the taxpayer-financed ballpark for the expansion Diamondbacks.
Give Jerry Colangelo his due. He's put great teams together and he brought Charles Barkley to Arizona. The Suns owner has also worked the corridors of power. When he lunged for the stadium payoff, the only opposition came from the militia fringe.
Bidwill's sole public relations move has been to drop his trademark bow tie for a bola tie straight out of an airport souvenir shop.
Instead of working the fans and greasing the political players, Bidwill, we learned Sunday, is listening to some St. Louis lawyer who is running up the meter. Bidwill tells us he is combing through his files, looking for documents that prove he is owed a stadium.
Does he think he's going to litigate his way into a domed megaplex on the reservation?
Richard Mallory has now been linked to Bidwill. No one knows what that means because Bidwill's response to all questions is, "You'll see."
Richard Mallory always gets a tough go in the press because he changed his name. He has also been pantsed in public for business deals where it looked like Dick had his hand in the cookie jar. Which is too one-sided a view of this complex man.
Mallory has been a shadow player in every governor's cabinet from Babbitt to Symington. Mallory's thing is that he just loves to do business. He's always looking to give someone the business.
And Mallory has put a Miss Karen's Yogurt deal together with the Pima Indians.
That doesn't mean the Pimas will roll over for a domed stadium.
If Bidwill thinks he's going to coochie-coo a bunch of naive Indians, he's in for a surprise.
One lawyer who has done tribal work for decades said this: "You'd have an easier time striking a deal with the Japanese or the Iraqis than you would trying to hustle Arizona Indians."
For one thing, everyone wants to know how you make the numbers work on an expensive domed stadium when you only have ten football games, including the preseason tune-ups, to make your nut. Jerry Colangelo owns every other sports team in Arizona, so no one else is going to be paying rent for a new arena. Another thing: The Indians are sick of playing Tonto to a bunch of wise guys. It's mean out there.
I've got a little story for Mr. Bidwill.
Back in the late '40s and early '50s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was looking around for a way to get electricity out to a few hundred Mojaves along the Colorado River in western Arizona. The agency struck a deal with a local electrical co-op to string lines out to the tribe.
You might think the Indians would be eternally grateful for the power to run their televisions. Not so.
Now the Indians want the utility company off the reservation.
The Indians want to supply their own electricity.
Not only that, the tribe now says the utility has been trespassing all this time. They want $3 million for the violation. They want $3 million before they'll let the utility boys leave.
This little beauty is working its way through the federal courts, and I'm betting on the Mojaves.
And I'm betting on any Indian, including Pocahontas, in negotiations with Bill Bidwill.
With any luck, a tribe will end up owning the Cardinals, then we can see that stupid name changed.
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