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Tagliabue: Davis planned to keep the Raiders in L.A.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue testified Tuesday that Raiders owner Al Davis told him in 1995 that he planned to reach a deal to play at a new Hollywood Park stadium.

Days later, however, Davis reportedly told Tagliabue he couldn't wait three years for the new stadium to be built.

The testimony and a memo written by Tagliabue the day Davis purportedly changed his mind were presented at the trial of the Raiders' $1-billion lawsuit against the NFL.

The Raiders claim the NFL was trying to force the team out of the lucrative Los Angeles market by interfering with the team's effort to move from historic Memorial Coliseum to a proposed stadium by the horse track in suburban Inglewood.

But Tagliabue's testimony suggested the Raiders made the decision to return to Oakland in 1995 because of the time it would take to build the new stadium.

"In the Raiders' view, while the proposed stadium at Hollywood Park is very attractive for an NFL team or teams, its proposed construction schedule has it opening in 1998, leaving the Raiders in an inadequate stadium," Tagliabue wrote to all NFL owners on June 23, 1995.

While informing the commissioner of his decision, Davis never suggested the NFL was trying to force the team out of Los Angeles, Tagliabue testified.

The team itself made no mention of any effort to run the Raiders out of Los Angeles in a news release the team issued the same day Tagliabue sent the memo to owners.

"The Raiders organization has worked long and hard with the NFL to develop a state-of-the-art stadium opportunity and it remains a viable site," according to the release issued by the Raiders while announcing their move back to Oakland.

Tagliabue testified that Davis said just two weeks earlier that he planned to reach a deal to play at a Hollywood Park stadium and keep his team in the Los Angeles market.

"I said it was great news. It was great for the Raiders and great for the league," Tagliabue testified about a June 9, 1995, conversation with Davis.

But Davis said outside court that he never made that statement.

"It's another lie in a raft of lies," he said.

BRONCOS: Denver hired former New Orleans defensive coordinator Zaven Yaralian as an assistant.

Yaralian, who worked with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan at the University of Florida in 1983, joins 17 other assistant coaches on the team, an NFL high.

Yaralian, 49, spent last season writing for NFL.com. He is expected to work closely with defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

Also, the team signed free-agent running back Isiah Stoker and allocated him to NFL Europe.

CHIEFS: The top two quarterbacks from the Super Bowl champion Ravens are scheduled to visit the team this week _ Trent Dilfer today and Thursday, and Tony Banks on Thursday afternoon and Friday. Kansas City interviewed Jacksonville backup Jamie Martin on Tuesday.

Also, coach Dick Vermeil said the Chiefs and Jaguars have had conversations about Mark Brunell. No trade offers were made either way, but the Chiefs asked Jacksonville to think of them first if the Jaguars decide to deal Brunell.

EAGLES: Defensive end Brandon Whiting and linebacker Ike Reese re-signed. Whiting, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 1998 draft, signed a six-year deal. He started the final 11 games for the Eagles last season and had career highs in tackles (60) and sacks (3{). He also had an interception. Reese, a fifth-round pick in 1998, was third in special-teams tackles with 25 last season.

PACKERS: Green Bay re-signed Rob Davis, who has been its long snapper for the past four years.

PATRIOTS: New England signed free-agent offensive guard Joe Panos, who started 13 games for Buffalo last season.

COLLINS TRIAL: Despite a pretrial hearing at which prosecutor Gregg Rossman said he did not intend to call two female witnesses to testify against Cecil Collins, the state might bring them to the witness stand.

The Louisiana women's testimony would shed light on Collins' criminal past, something defense attorneys Sebastian Cotrone and Arthur Marchetta had hoped to keep from the six-person jury.

"My intentions have changed," Rossman told Circuit Judge Joyce Julian at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

Rossman altered his plans after Cotrone's cross-examination of Ronald Nolte, one of the primary witnesses in the case. His wife Tina is the other. Both testified Tuesday.

Collins, a former Dolphins running back, was arrested Dec. 16, 1999, and charged with breaking into Tina Nolte's apartment in Davie.

Collins, 24, has been in jail the past 15 months. The Dolphins released him two months after his arrest. He pleaded innocent to the charges.

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PLANTATION _ Running back Lawrence Phillips, who signed with the Florida Bobcats on March 13, left the team during the weekend without telling anyone.

Team general manager Judd Lando said he hasn't spoken to Phillips, a former first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams whose off-field problems led to failed stints with three NFL teams.

Lando said Andy Silverman, an associate of Phillips, told him the running back returned to his Las Vegas home because of a family emergency.

MNF: The Baltimore Sun reported the Ravens are upset about not being chosen to appear in prime time the first week of the season. The report said the Giants will visit the Broncos, the christening of Invesco Field, for the first Monday night game, followed by the Ravens hosting the Vikings. It would make the Ravens the first Super Bowl champions since the 1995 49ers to not kick off the next season on Monday night. "The schedule is not finalized and we're not expecting it to be released until next month," said Greg Aiello, the league's vice president of public relations.

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