Thursday, November 17, 2005

Diamonds in The Rubble

Down but not out in the wake of the Broncos game, Raider Take soldiered on, navigating the smoking rubble in search of amusements, diversions, storylines and general signs of life. Here’s what I found:

Man vs. Zebra

Talk about fantasy football. It was revealed this week that Mike Lombardi, senior personnel executive of the Oakland Raiders, apparently tried to kick some zebra ass (“The exchange got so heated that NFL security had to intervene”) in the Arrowhead parking lot after the 11/6 game against the Chiefs. In doing so, he lived out the dreams of many across the Raider Nation.

Here at Raider Take, I was mocked by a few folks for suggesting (via haiku) that the tripping call against Ed Jasper was (1) bogus and (2) a true factor in the outcome of that second game against the Chiefs. Sure enough, the Raiders later received an official (no pun intended) apology from NFL headquarters for the Jasper call. You can say all you want about blown coverages and stupid penalties by the Raiders, but that does not absolve the zebras of their responsibility to not affect the outcome of games with incorrect calls at crucial moments. The first game against the Chiefs was an officiating disaster, and thus the zebras should have been extra attentive and careful during this second matchup. Kudos to Mike Lombardi for trying to stick the inevitable apology where the sun don’t shine before it was even postmarked.

Randy (pause) endorses (umm) Norv…sort of

Coach Turner’s week is going from bad to worse. First, he and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye surrendered early with a mindless five-minute touchdown drive while three scores down with seven minutes left against the Broncos—in cosmic counterpoint to Jon Gruden, who at that time was just moments away from making his gutsy call to go for two points and the win in Tampa Bay. Next, Raider Nation Podcast lit up computers and MP3 players across the world with an epic “Norv Must Go!” take. Finally, Randy Moss spoke publicly for the first time since September 8. Asked for his thoughts on Coach Turner, Moss paused for a full 15 seconds before offering this nugget of ironclad support: "I think his approach, being an offensive-minded coach, is something that I can accept, I like. He's the man. I leave that at that." In terms of endorsements, that’s right up there with “Well…(15 second pause)….He doesn’t beat his wife. I’ll leave it at that.”

ESPN scoops ESPN

ESPN sent a reporter to experience the Raiders game last Sunday. The findings were astonishing: (1) Raiders games are safe; (2) Raiders games are fun; (3) costumed Raiders fans are not satan-worshipping bullies. Geez, we haven’t seen an article like this since…well, since ESPN sent a reporter to experience a Raiders game.

Maybe it’s becoming an annual thing with them, like the swallows in San Juan Capistrano. I can’t complain. Compared to the amateurish slander published recently by Sports Illustrated, it’s all good. Congrats to Spike, Howie and Violator for showing ESPN a good time and doing the Nation proud.

Third stringer to start for Raiders…Oops, I mean Eagles

Various Raider Take commentators (special thanks to JS, Doobie, Mad Stork, Raider Greg and NFL Adam) poured philosophical kerosene on the QB fire over the past week, enflaming the debate about the relative abilities of Collins, Tui and Walter to turn the tide and lead a turnaround through the end of 2005 and into 2006. In the event of a Collins benching or injury, it is assumed that Tui would be the automatic choice per the depth chart. So it was particularly intriguing when Donovan McNabb went down on Monday night and Andy Reid passed over immediate backup Koy Detmer in favor of Mike McMahon—and then installed McMahon as the starter for the next game. There was some revisionism about Detmer being the backup only because he was the holder for field goals and extra points (I wonder if Koy knew that?), but it was an interesting precedent nonetheless.


Blogger THN said...

I was one of those that mocked you for the Jasper call. Upon hearing the news that the league appologized, I will say that I stand corrected. Still, ref incompetence is not something that is only a problem in Oakland. There are still fans in Washington waiting for Mike Alstott to cross the goal line. Saints coach Jim Hasslet now contributes to charity by just chastising the refs.

It is a sad statement that the best sport in America is mared by officials that cannot make a correct call, especially in crucial situations. It seems that they make no call at all and hope that replay will bail them out. Yet, they never seem to overturn a call on replay because it is always inconclusive. It is such a cop-out by the officials.

If the league did appologize for Jasper, he should be disciplined. Players lose their jobs if they make too many mistakes like fumbling the ball or throwing interceptions. Well, most players other than Joey Harrington. But refs should be put under the same scrutiny if they are costing teams games. Which they seem to be doing on a weekly basis.

I also hated ESPN's story of Raiders fans. I have always said (even on my site in the Raiders Fans in the Mist) that Oakland Raiders fans are fine. But it is the Los Angeles Raiders fans that ruin it for the rest of the crew.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

NFL Adam, you are a stand-up dude!

Good points about the general state of officiating. I happen to think that the Raiders have long been on the receiving end of an unusual amount of game-changing bogus calls, but perhaps that just makes me a garden variety Raider Nation conspiracy theorist.

I didn't hate the ESPN article. It's just old news. They keep teeing up the same false premise, only to "discover" that it's not so bad after all. Journalistically, it's tired. No offense, however, to Spike and gang, they are great fans, and if ESPN wants to tag along, why not? Sounds like everyone had a great time (aside from losing to the Broncos).

8:29 AM  

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