Monday, January 30, 2006

Gear of The Week

I am biased, but I believe that no other team in the NFL boasts a more remarkable alumni than the Oakland Raiders. In Raiders Forever, author John Lombardo not only celebrates the Raiders of legend, but also updates us on their post-football exploits.

You know where Shell, Upshaw and Madden went, but what about Banazak, Davidson and Villapiano? This book has the scoop. Each chapter is dedicated to a single player: Otto, Branch, Tatum, Hendricks, etc. The result is “the ultimate book on Oakland’s ‘working class’ heroes.”

Along the way, Raiders Forever offers some unique insights. For example, the photo of Ray Guy shows a man who is still the picture of health, lean and strong with a military posture. Yet Lombardo reveals that during his interview, Ray “drank endless amounts of coffee while lighting up one Marlboro after another.” Damn, there must be some good genes in the Guy family. I wish I was related.

As we all sit here in limbo, waiting for the first big steps toward the 2006 season, I am selecting Raiders Forever as Gear of The Week and recomending it as essential to the library of any Raiders fan. To purchase, click here

Friday, January 27, 2006

News You Can't Use

Well, I guess this is what happens when reporters from a sports wagering site crash the Raiders discussion. The author’s first mistake is rehashing a take that is hopelessly stale by now. Then, in a rush to point fingers at Al Davis, the author goes off the logic rails…

For example, one paragraph leads with the following: “And you can look no further than Al Davis for someone to blame.”

Fine, do tell, I’m all ears…

But then the very next paragraph states: “It’s amazing to think that a team with Randy Moss, LaMont Jordan and Jerry Porter wasn’t an offensive juggernaut this season. Part of that can be blamed on poor quarterback play, part of it on inept defense and part of it can be blamed on just bad coaching. Whatever the reasons, Oakland is in a world of hurt and new direction is something they sorely need.”

Wait, I thought we were blaming Al Davis for everything? Suddenly the author doesn’t know whom to blame, but guesses that it might be Kerry Collins, Norv Turner and the defense.

How, exactly, does one blame the Raiders defense, which outperformed expectations, for poor performance by the offense? I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly the type of analysis that makes me a betting man.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of this article: “I hate Al Davis. His fingerprints are all over the Raiders during the bad years, but he had nothing to do with the team going to the Super Bowl a few years ago in the wake of dominating the AFC West for three straight seasons. I blame the poor performance of the 2005 Raiders offense on the quarterback, the coach and the defense. But it’s still all Al Davis’s fault. While 10 head coaches were fired recently, Al Davis is the only owner whose most recent choice for head coach didn’t work out. The Raiders are in sore need of a new direction, but firing the offending coach and carefully searching for the next one isn’t good enough for me. Because I hate Al Davis.”

And that, Raiders fans, is news you can’t use.

No News Is Good News

Can you blame me for having writer’s block this week? The big stories haven’t been very big these past several days. We had the local media chasing the Al Saunders red herring, then getting scooped by the Chicago Tribune on the John Shoop audition. All of which has been followed by embarrassed silence with a smattering of rumors attributed to unnamed sources.

The monotony was broken on Thursday night by reports that Mike Martz interviewed for the job. Do you recall a certain blogger making the Mike Martz connection eight days ago while the media were still hot on the Al Saunders trail?

The bottom line is that nobody really knows what’s going on unless their paycheck is postmarked in Alameda. Personally, I’m fine with that (except for it causing me writer’s block). Secrecy is a great Raiders tradition.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped a lot of folks from declaring the 2006 Oakland Raiders dead on arrival. They pretend to wring their hands while mocking the Raiders methodical approach toward hiring their next coach. How can the Raiders wait so long after every other team rushed to fill their positions? How can they rehire their defensive coordinator before hiring a head coach? Who would want to work with Al Davis? Why won’t the Raiders just make us happy and join our lemming party? Well, for starters, because the Raiders never made you happy, because they’ve built a winning tradition on their terms, not yours.

Among the mockers are numerous hosts on NFL Radio on Sirius, including Randy Cross (surprise). I wish I had the audio clips. Talk about crocodile tears. You also have
this guy and this gal locally, among others. Let’s just say that Mr. Pulitzer won’t be calling anytime soon. I’ve seen a lot of similar pieces, but I don’t want to spend the time tracking them down. If you’ve got some at hand, please post the links in the comments section. We need them for the record.

Indeed, let’s get the record stated, right now. You know that if things don’t work out for the Raiders, the mockers be reminding us of where they stood. So let’s make sure that when, in fact, things do work out, we can remind them of where they stood.
Hiring the architect of the Super Bowl Steelers steamrolling offense would be a nice first step in that direction, wouldn’t it? It would be fun to hear them try to spin that development in a negative direction. For that reason alone, I hope we get Whisenhunt. As stated before, I think Martz might be a nice match, too.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit cranky, must be the writer's block. I promise, my next post will be all peaches and cream, like George Atkinson on KSFO after a blowout loss.

P.S. I encourage you to visit the
Raider Raza Blog, which answers the aforementioned question: Who would want to work for Al Davis? Roberto of Raider Raza has posted a few dozen answers to that question.

Monday, January 23, 2006

News Flash

Al Davis today did not call the media, hold their hands and tell them what he is thinking—a clear sign that the Oakland Raiders are in increasingly dire trouble as they conduct an unnecessarily thorough and exacting search for a head coach.

The Raiders have already lost bidding wars for the coordinator who presided over the NFL’s worst offense (envy the Packers), a retread who racked up an impressive 35-46 record before being fired by the Bears (lost to the Bills), and any number of unproven coordinators (here come the Saints and Texans). According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders were even rejected by their favorite candidate, Al Saunders, who joined the Redskins as offensive coordinator. The Chronicle also reports that Saunders was never remotely offered the Raiders job, but that’s just a minor quibble.

If the Raiders do not act soon, they may even lose the Wayne Fontes bidding war. At that point, the available talent pool will be limited to such losers as Mike Martz (53-32 record over five seasons), Ken Whisenhunt (architect of the steamrolling AFC Champion Steelers offense), Cam Cameron (leader of one of the AFC's top offenses), Mike Tice (Moss’s old boss) and Art Shell (a proven Raiders coach).

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Oakland Raiders haven’t done anything since three long years ago, when they went to the Super Bowl after winning the AFC West title for three straight campaigns. In fact, during that brief run as AFC West champions (spanning only 1,095 straight days), the team was actually renamed the Grudens (editor’s note: see Harvey’s comments under News You Can’t Use below for more on this subject). This occurred when the notoriously meddlesome Al Davis went on an extended yoga vacation to Sedona, leaving full control of the team to Jon Gruden, who didn’t draft Tim Brown and who didn’t take the Raiders to the Super Bowl.

(The media can be forgiven for implying that Jon Gruden took the Raiders to the Super Bowl, because he was seen on the sidelines during that game wearing pirate-themed logo gear—it was later determined, however, that this gear was a cheap imitation of Raiders imagery, and that Gruden was in fact coaching Tampa Bay)

The clock is ticking in Oakland, and a time bomb is about to go off, leaving the once-proud franchise to ponder what could have been if they’d only been a little quicker on the draw in sweet-talking Mike McCarthy or Dick Jauron. Al Davis is urged to contact ESPN immediately to seek professional guidance before it’s too late.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Al Saunders Hoax

I invite you to first read this column, published two days ago. Then, read this article, published today by the same newspaper. Do you notice any discrepancies? One employs the certainty that Al Saunders is “likely” the next head coach of the Raiders to launch yet another cotton-candy literary attack on Al Davis. The other confirms that Al Saunders was never really in the running for the job. Well, we know one local columnist who, despite being long on prose, is rather short on information.

Gear of The Week

You were up all night, burning the midnight oil, surfing the internet for insider gossip that will help you make an informed choice between Ken Whisenhunt, Ron Rivera and Maurice Carthon. Then, after three hours of sleep (filled with beautiful visions of the next Jon Gruden and nightmares of the next Joe Bugel), you are rudely awakened by the rising sun. Friend, what you need is a cup of coffee. Not just any ol’ coffee, but Jim’s java. Jim Otto, that is.

Thus, because neither man nor woman can live on beer alone, I am selecting Jim Otto’s Special Blend Whole Bean Coffee as my Gear of The Week (special thanks to Stick ‘Em for tipping me off to this product). I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m still recommending it, because I know it’s good, because it is specially blended by Mr. 00 himself. At $12.99 for a pound, it’s not a bad deal, either. You know you need it. You know you need to elevate your commitment to caffeine.

Jim, if you're out there, I have some ideas for other blends: Al's Piedmont House Blend, Frenchy Fuqua Roast, Sea of Hands Selection and Ray Guy's Kick Starter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Crazy Like A Fox?

If what we’ve heard is true, Mike Martz might be a bit of a crackpot. However, that would make him a crackpot with 53-32 record and a Super Bowl appearance under his belt, and a top 10 ranking in total offensive yardage in each of his 5+ seasons in St. Louis. Funny how we haven’t really heard his name connected with the Raiders job. Maybe Mr. Davis doesn’t have any interest in Martz (reasons could include Martz’s quirky reputation, high salary or control demands, etc.). Or maybe Mr. Davis’s maid is pouring Martz a cup of coffee in Piedmont this morning.

In this article, a local sportswriter frets that the Raiders might lose Al Saunders to the Rams. Are you worried about that? I think I might be fine with Al Saunders coaching the Rams and Mike Martz coaching the Raiders. I think Martz could figure out a way to get the ball to Randy Moss. I think that the Raiders might be due for a little star power in the head coaching slot. Maybe a mad scientist like Martz would be a nice antidote to the meek lab assistant known as Norv Turner. While other teams are tripping over themselves to hire unproven coordinators, and while the media bleat about Al Saunders, I believe that Al Davis might pull an entirely different rabbit out of the hat in the coming weeks.

Saunders might prove to be the real deal, but guys like Pat Hill (too late, he just signed a new deal with Fresno State) and Mike Martz excite my imagination more than Saunders, and right now I've got a lot more imagination than information when it comes to the Raiders coaching search.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

BFN Logo

Hell Freezes Over

Today, hell froze over. The U.S. Air Force admitted that a flying saucer did, in fact, crash in Roswell, New Mexico. And a Bay Area media outlet ran a positive article on Al Davis.

Indeed, with the local media gleefully feeding on the carcass of the 2005 season and bashing Al Davis at every turn, it was refreshing to see this article in the Oakland Tribune. Kudos to NFL Editor Jerry McDonald for going against the grain and showing Al Davis some respect and fairness. Once again, the Oakland Tribune (and ANG Newspapers by extension) sets the pace for quality in local sports journalism.

As I’ve said before, I am not hostile to the mere idea of criticizing Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Many folks have come in here and slammed Al Davis. I don’t agree with them, but they back up their takes and they still love the Raiders, and I respect their opinion. Many in the media, however, have decided that it’s open season on Al Davis, and they are firing shots without taking proper aim, which results in collateral damage to the journalistic principles of fairness, logic and integrity.

Now back to McDonald’s article, which showcases the skills that Mr. Davis is no doubt bringing to his current search for a head coach. McDonald reminds us of the following quote from none other than Jon Gruden (specifically, from Gruden’s autobiography, which was published after he left the Raiders): "His (Davis's) interviewing technique was magnificent. It was a stimulating, awesome line of questioning from a man who knew all there is to know about the NFL, including the salary cap, which other owners, club executives and coaches still have a hard time figuring out. He had seen it all in football."

That’s high praise, coming from someone whom we’ve been told (by the media) hates Al Davis. And now we have Gruden’s defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, interviewing for the Raiders job. I guess Jon Gruden, despite his best efforts, just couldn’t convince Marinelli that Al Davis is the devil? That sound you hear is some favorite media spin coming to a screeching halt.

Here’s another tidbit from the article: “Gruden found the third interview to be as fascinating as the first. Two of the interviews took place at Davis' Piedmont home — which may help explain why the club's media relations staff often doesn't seem to know whether a candidate is in town or not.”

This is why I’m not commenting too much on the Raiders coaching search right now. If the Raiders staff hardly knows what’s going on, then I don’t have a clue. I have this gut feeling that Pat Hill might be a diamond in the rough (and that reuniting him with David Carr wouldn’t be the worst idea), but what do I really know? A lot of it comes down to nuances and intangibles, stuff that comes through in the interviewing process. A lot of guys look good on paper. But how do they look in person? There's probably a fly on the wall in Piedmont with an answer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

News You Can't Use

To the Raider Nation, negative anti-Raiders media coverage has become like flies to a horse, a sort of irritating reality that comes with the territory. In that context, it is easy to forget that there are standards in journalism, even in the “opinion” sector occupied by columnists and commentators. These standards, if respected, require a certain measure of intellectual rigor, fairness and maturity.

On that note, I invite you to consider this column in the San Jose Mercury News (thanks to Raider Tom for tipping me off to this one).

Now consider the journalistic standards cited above. Do you see any evidence of them in this column? I don’t. It’s vindictive, petty and immature. At this rate, we’ll soon see an article in a major newspaper entitled: “I Hate The Raiders! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!”

So am I just a thin-skinned Raiders fan? Nope. I have read plenty of respectable articles and columns that are critical of the Oakland Raiders. This isn't one of them.

I could go on about the other problems with this column (for example, if Art Shell was so terribly burned by Al Davis the first time around, why would he even allow his name to come up as a Raiders coaching candidate for 2006?). I could say, as I’ve said before: who are you to blame Mr. Davis for the bad years yet deny him the great ones?

But rather than burn tread off the same old tires, I want to address something else mentioned in this piece, something that’s been bothering me: the much-maligned Oakland Raiders press release of 2005.

Apparently the Raiders sent out a press release several weeks ago reminding the media of the team’s accomplishments over the years. The local sports media howled, and now they won’t let it go. Apparently, they have a problem being reminded of the facts, because I haven’t heard any of them actually argue the facts of the press release. Unable to argue the facts, they ridicule the timing—the press release arrived in the twilight of a third straight losing campaign.

Fine, the timing makes it an easy target. But with the media constantly playing Jedi mind tricks and pretending that 2000-2002 never happened, and using that false premise to attack Mr. Davis and the Oakland Raiders as lost franchise that hasn’t done anything lately, can you blame the team's communications department for trying to correct the record?

And that, Raiders fans, is news you can’t use.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Next Raiders Quarterback

The Raiders quarterback conundrum is like that little monster under your bed. You may be sleeping peacefully tonight in the wake of Norv’s exit, with dreams of a new era dancing in your head. But you also know that the monster still lurks, teeth bared and ready to pounce. We had a problem at head coach. We still have a problem at quarterback.

So let’s depart from the coaching discussion for a moment and delve into the quarterback conundrum. After all, the fate of the new coach may largely fall on the performance of the new quarterback (or old quarterback, if Collins somehow survives the purge).

The last time the Raiders picked a QB in the first round, it was a disaster, as Todd Marinovich soon found his true calling as a pot-smoking skateboarder. He and Ryan Leaf are probably pen pals. Mr. Davis never seemed predisposed to grooming young QBs in the first place. Marinovich didn’t help. So as intriguing as a Vince Young or Matt Leinart might be, is it realistic to expect the Raiders to make a move to jump up the board and take one of them in the first round? Or to even sit tight and pick another highly ranked QB in the first round? Not based on recent experience. I don't have to like it (and I'm not sure I do, because I think it might be high time for the Raiders to find their own Manning or Palmer or Brees or Roethlisberger; perhaps his name is Walter, but that remains to be seen), it's just a fact.

More likely, then, is a veteran pickup. Among the potentially available QBs, there are no truly proven commodities (always a rarity at that position). Peyton Manning, for example, is what I would call a proven commodity. David Carr, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Aaron Brooks, Jamie Martin, Josh McCown, Brad Johnson, etc. are not proven commodities, at least in the positive sense of the term.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions on Jon Kitna (another unproven commodity), but he was initially impressive on Sunday off the bench against the Steelers. His name has rarely been mentioned among the top available QBs going into 2006. Yet he was the AP’s NFL Comeback Player of The Year in 2003 before taking the back seat to Carson Palmer the following season. He has essentially been on ice ever since. Personally, I’d forgotten about the guy until Sunday. A lot of people had.

Perhaps there is a little Gannon in Kitna: an experienced journeyman, refining his skills and finding his groove while biding his time, with enough youth left to bring three or four years of consistency to a team (and guide a guy like Walter along the way). Sure, he melted down in the second half of the Steelers game, but he was sharp early, and was playing catch up after that, which is a tough gig coming out of the ice chest. Regardless, Kitna showed enough fire, poise and skill to ignite the imagination. Unlike Collins, when receivers weren’t open, he moved around and bought time instead of just chucking the ball 20 yards out of bounds at the first sign of trouble. In 2003, he had a higher QB rating than Collins ever has. By all accounts, he has taken his Bengals backup status like a man and a team player, but is still hungry to start somewhere. He is a free agent going into 2006.

Now, before you come in here and rip my head off with five talking points about why Jon Kitna is the second coming of Jeff George, please understand that I’m just saying that Kitna merits consideration. I do not pretend to be a QB talent expert, and as such I am not alone. Very few people besides Al Davis and Jon Gruden, for example, saw Rich Gannon not for what he was, but for what he would become.

In review, here are my conclusions: (1) The quarterback issue is still huge here in the Raider Nation, despite the current coaching distraction; (2) Al Davis gave Collins a little love the other day, but that doesn’t mean Collins won’t be shown the door; few in the Raider Nation would welcome him back as our starter; (3) there is no evidence that Tui is being groomed to take the helm, and it’s doubtful that Walter will rise to starter’s status by next September; (4) there is little reason to expect the Raiders to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback, based on recent history, which thus nudges the discussion toward a veteran free agent pickup; and (5) Jon Kitna has asserted himself among the ranks of available veteran QBs.
If I'm missing something, let me know.

Of course, the sooner the Raiders put a plan together for 2006, including a new head coach, the more choices they will have at their disposal to make a quarterback decision that fits that plan.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Thanks from Raider Take

I would like to express my gratitude to the Raider Nation, and specifically to the readers, commentators and other friends who have inspired and enlightened Raider Take over the 2005 season.

I am still awed by the level of analysis and insight being brought to this blog by various commentators. Better yet, you bring it with style, grace and humor. You stand in firm rebuke of those who would slander the Raider Nation as a bunch inarticulate Neanderthals. I defy anyone to prove that there is a more informed and passionate fan base in the NFL.

The goals of Raider Take are simple: (1) generate dialogue on the season in progress; (2) celebrate the greatness of the Oakland Raiders organization and the Raider Nation; and (3) neutralize the forces of anti-Raiders propaganda and negativity in order to grow the Raider Nation and thus help keep the Oakland Raiders in Oakland.

This latter point is crucial. We are on the clock, Raiders fans. The Coliseum lease is up in five years. We need to spread the good news—fast. I have no illusions about the “importance” of this little blog. But perhaps, with your help, it adds just a little volume to the collective voice of the Raider Nation. Something needs to give, not just on the field, but in how the Raiders fan experience is perceived and communicated. We can all contribute and (cue the violins and hecklers) make a difference. Call me naïve.

On that note, please bear with the following misty-eyed “thank you” speech, acknowledging those, among others, who breathed life into Raider Take during its inaugural season:

Raider Take Commentators – This would be one boring and lonely place without these guys and gals. On that note, thanks to Doobie, LK, Calico Jack, MadStork83, Stick ‘Em, NFL Adam (a.k.a. the coolest Raider hater), Raider00, LeighRaider, Raider Nilbilly Boy, Tokai Japan Outpost, Scorpio, Harkonnendog, Bad Boy Roberto, Tommy NY Raider, CJ, Submergent PTB, Arleigh Simon, Maverick, AlzadoMan, Sec 137, RaiderAJ, X, NorthWestRaiderFan, Greg Moon, TheFreakingPope, Jason Culley, Peter Fleming, the many-headed Anonymous and everyone else. JS gets special mention for coming in here very early as a Raider Take pioneer. – AllyOop wakes up shortly after Jon Gruden each morning so that we can get all of our Raiders news in one convenient location before the sun rises. She and her colleagues at have been kind enough to link to Raider Take, for which I am grateful.

Raider Nation Podcast – Raider Greg and his technical guru Randy kindly gave numerous shout-outs to Raider Take. Who needs George Atkinson going Orwell on KSFO when you can get the truth straight between the eyes from Raider Greg? (Oakland Tribune Online) – Their link to Raider Take was a huge boost. There’s a reason why their writers haven’t been featured in Raider Take’s News You Can’t Use (and no, it’s not because I’m biased): they conduct honest reporting and refrain from cheap shots. I don’t always agree with them, but I respect their journalism. – This premier source for Raiders-oriented web sites was kind enough to add the unproven Raider Take to its roster at the beginning of the season. – This is a multifaceted forum that showcases both the variety and unity of thought in the Raider Nation, and I was honored to have Raider Take linked to several posts throughout the season. – This red-hot sports site selected Raider Take as one of “Blogdom’s Best” for the Oakland Raiders. That was a very nice surprise.

Cousin Joe – My cousin joins me in advancing our second-generation family membership in the Raider Nation. He is my gameday co-pilot, and at times my editorial conscience.

Next up: the road to a new head coach.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2005 Raiders Requiem

The lights are out, the party never really started. Norv has left the building. The landlord is wearing white and wielding a wicked broom.

But before we sweep 2005 under the rug, allow me to indulge my “Top 5 Surprises” (aka: things I never saw coming) as a requiem for a lost season:

1. The Unqualificaton of Norv Turner

In the game of life, Norv Turner is still a winner. There’s a lot to be said for that, but it doesn’t make you a winner in the NFL. I teed off on Turner when I felt that he was disregarding some of the basic values of competition. Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I’m still outraged. But I don’t think it was intentional on his part. I think he was simply overmatched and, ultimately, unqualified for the job. In the heat of the battle, with the clock ticking and the pressure mounting, he consistently lost sight of the big picture while navigating the details. Threads of logic would unravel into bizarre playcalling and clock mismanagement. Finesse and perspective were squeezed by the grip of panic, and winnable games were lost. The final offensive series of the Giants game, stunning in its rebuke of anything resembling imagination, was emblematic of Norv’s terminal coaching illness.

The pressures and responsibilities of an NFL head coach are extraordinary. Great coaches wield a unique variable combination of experience, intellect, charisma, instinct, authority and versatility. Few are capable of that combination, which is why truly great NFL head coaches are so rare. That said, I don’t think any of us ever expected Norv Turner to be a great coach, just a serviceable one. In the end, however, he was less than that, which was both surprising and saddening. Bill Callahan lost control of the team. Norv Turner lost control of the game.

Now that the dirty work has been done, I can stop throwing stones. There are many among us, myself included, who can imagine finding ourselves overmatched by a particular job. I personally wish Norv the best, and believe that he will return to his comfort zone as an offensive coordinator somewhere. It’s time to extend some sympathy for a guy who no doubt tried his best, who took a public beating, and who lost his job with dignity. But it is also time to welcome his departure, because he was hardly the man for this job.

2. Poetry amid Misery

Could you ask for more poetic symmetry than the first and last drives of the season, opposing bookends of hope and hopelessness? To open the season, on the road against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the new Raiders offense diced up the Patriots with a surgical touchdown drive, one that featured receptions by Jordan, Moss, Porter and Anderson, and we were all licking our chops at what was to come…

Yet to end the season, at home against the Giants, the Raiders offense was unable to score in four plays from one yard out. After barely using Zack Crockett in such situations all year, Coach Turner turned to Zack three straight times up the middle from the same formation (this after Zack was gassed from being the feature back due to LaMont Jordan’s injury). Randy Moss, the star playmaker who had already scored two touchdowns, sat unused on the sideline. Finally, Kerry Collins was sent up the middle—and got stuffed. If you’re looking for pure symbolism, there you have it.

3. The Misuse of Randy Moss.

How does a megawatt football superstar like Randy Moss get lost in the shuffle? It’s like going to the opera and seeing Pavarotti as just another face in the chorus. To see such talent so misused was astonishing. The nagging injury didn’t help, but that doesn’t explain it. If he’s out there, he should be, and can be, a factor at all times. It’s just one more good reason our coach was dismissed on Tuesday.

That said, I’m not sure we should all be tiptoeing around Randy and giving him a pass on team leadership responsibilities. From the Press Democrat: “Randy Moss didn't wait to tie up the loose ends, wish teammates farewell or vocally support his embattled coach. Less than 10 minutes after the clock wound down on the Raiders' 30-21 loss to the Giants, Moss was striding down an Oakland Coliseum hallway and into the parking lot, wearing a sweat suit and protective headphones.” Yes, he was rightfully pissed off about the playcalling at the end of the game, but that’s not the fault of his teammates. Yes, Randy is not alone in this modern world of Barry Bonds, T.O. and other detached superstars. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Call me old fashioned.

4. The Caveman's Crew

Why am I so excited about a defense that ranked 27th overall and set an NFL record for fewest interceptions in a non-strike season? Because they exhibited intensity and passion, and ultimately outperformed expectations. This youth movement is definitely pointed in the right direction, with some key veterans leading the way. Rob “Caveman” Ryan deserves to captain this ship in 2006. I hope we find a way to keep him in the midst of the coaching turnover.

5. Mutiny in The Nation

The outcry against Al Davis from Raiders fans reached record decibels this year. Personally, I’m not buying it. I love Al Davis. When he passes away in 20 or 25 years (yes, I’m bullish about Mr. Davis’s life expectancy), I hope that they put a radio in his casket so that he can call shots and knock heads from the otherworld.

Regardless, as Raiders fans we might sometimes differ in our opinions, but we are united in our dedication. The journey to a new head coach will be interesting and invigorating, wherever it leads. Onward, upward and just win, baby!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Haiku: Raiders 21 / Giants 30

Up the middle, one,
two, three, four: o five season
in a nutshell. Out.