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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually you can find "I hate the Raiders! Nyah, Nyah, Nyah" coming out of Ralph Barbieri's mouth if you feel like tuning into KNBR 680. He (and I use "He" very loosely since I'm not sure he should even be considered a man)has no problem showing his distaste for Al Davis or anything that remotely touches on the Raiders. It mystifies me how this person is allowed to spew the crap that comes out of his mouth on a daily basis. 99% of his comments are subjective in nature; in his case if you aren't blowing smoke up the Niners, SF Giants, or the University of SF Dons collective backsides then he will degrade you. Really, it would be nice to have objective sports talk radio hosts in the Bay Area who are knowledgeable and deliver fact based opionions.

As far as the article you referred to, I'm not being sexist, but Ann Killion has never written anything worth reading in the San Jose Mercury News. At this point it's easy to pick up the sports section and bypass anything she's contributed. If Cheryl Miller wrote an article about basketball I would be extremely intersted in what she had to say, but when someone is allowed to write on subjects they have no background in or objective knowledge about then it's just a waste of ink and paper.

On the other hand, these people mentioned above are employed because there is demand in the Bay Area for malicious and/or sarcastic Raider commentary. I guess that is to be expected with the dichotomy that exists in the bay area.

Not sure if I'm supposed to be mentioning names, but oh well.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jedi mind trick only works on the weak-minded [or so I was instructed by Master Obi-Wan back in the day] so have no fear that any of the Nation will be persuaded by this rubbish...some Niner fans may swallow it, tho'...
Great that somebody's on guard duty, semper fi RT....

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just one argument with your post. The media doesn't ignore 2000-2002, rather they have turned it into a point in Raiders history when they weren't really the Raiders. They were the Grudens. The theory is that when Gruden came in it was a brief period in Raider's history that Al had nothing to do with (forgetting the fact that Al hired Gruden). Gannon was brought in as the anti-Raider QB that Gruden signed despite the rest of the organization not wanting him (forgetting the fact that Al was the one who paid Gannon and that he remained a Raider for 3 years after Gruden left). And the West Coast offense was implemented despite Al's desire for the vertical game (forgetting the fact that Al never criticized the offense and it stayed even after Gruden left).

In the media's mind Al Davis is an old meddling fool that can do no right. So the only way to make sense of the success they had in the early part of the decade was to create a theme that somehow Gruden wrested control from Al allowing the team to achieve success. And since Gruden wasn't the coach when the Raiders went to the Super Bowl they then created this story that it was Gruden's team despite the fact Callahan was the coach (interestingly you didn't hear much from the same media that the team Gruden won with was actually Tony Dungy's team).

I agree that there is a lot to criticize about the Raiders these days and I'm not offended when there is a well-thought factual article that criticizes the team. But this constant rehash of the same trash regarding Al and his meddling ways without one shred of fact to back it up is just an easy way to fill space because these writers know there is no accountability. The organization won't respond or challenge anything that is written so why not keep writing it.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Harvey, you are dead on...I've made the same point in earlier posts, but not as thoroughly or insightfully as you have here. When I say they pretend 2000-2002 never happened, I'm talking about the reality of those years (and not the hallucinated alternate reality that you describe so well).

Thanks, LK!

Anonymous, I hear you on Barbieri, the radio equivalent of nails on a blackboard.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what can you say. When you're down, the media will kick you, and laugh while they do it. Let's face it, the Raiders have had 3 of their worst yrs in a row ever. The media is not going to cut the Raiders slack, and dream back to the 1970's. As for 2002, unfortunately, the Raiders lost that Super Bowl, and teams that lose the big one are usually not marked in history. The only way to turn the media around is to start winning. Once this happens, the media will be the first to jump on the band wagon.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact Al Saunders interviewed for the Raiders' job this week raises an interesting question about coach selection criteria. Saunders' teams have consistently been high scoring, but is that because of his scheme/coaching or because the Chiefs arguably have the best o-line, TE and RB in football, not to mention a pro bowl QB? Which is of greater consequence? The selection criteria to me that shows a coaches impact on the game is "winning percentage in games decided by seven or less points". I don't know if that's a real stat but it incorporates all the game management issues and personnel decisions. If there was a list of coaches over the last five years ranked by winning percentage in close games and the Raiders went after them or their coordinators, we'd get the right guy....and he could get right on fixing the o-line and QB situation.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

RT - Speaking of "News you can't use", check out the article below
which was posted on (Jan. 11) titled 'Go Against The Grain-Give Collins Another Year'

This was written by some hack at REALFOOTBALL365. What bothers me about this article isn't the writer's opinion but his lack of simple fact checking. In it he writes..."His numbers as a Raider are certainly not terrible—but his record is. Collins is 9-23 since taking over for Rich Gannon."

Do the math. 9+23=32 games. Any moron realizes that Collins only started a total of 28 total games. (His record was 7-21)
Does this idiot think that Collins started all 16 games in 2004 + 2005? Later in the article, this monkey states..."Both Collins and Turner took leadership roles in the Oakland organization during the 2003 season"

Once again, any novice fan knows that Collins and Turner joined the organization in 2004 not 2003.

Last but not least, this jerk-off says "Collins could likely provide Oakland with a 10+ win season that many frustrated fans have been searching for since the Raiders’ were thrashed in the Super Bowl by former coach Jon Gruden."

What burns me up about this ludicruous statement is that he gives no plausible reasons why Collins would make a jump from 4 to 10 wins. His basic premise is Collins will win 10+ games since Turner has been fired. Huh?

Don't get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but if you are writing for a site with major sponsorships like REALFOOTBALL365, this lazy writing is unprofessional and lacks any shred of credibility.

To take a page out of your book RT, now that is some news you can't use.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could copy and paste what Harvey wrote, as his words encapsulate concisely one of the main problems I have with the mediots spewing revisionist history. Well said, my friend.

Anyone who has been a public figure for 40 years (e.g., Al Davis) has a large body of work open for public scrutiny. Verily, there is no paucity of Davis moves worth us raising an eyebrow at during this span, such as

Moving the team to LA...

Axeing Art Shell and putting the team on a tedious treadmill of yet another group of new coaches...

Making questionable personnel decisions...

All of these were mistakes by anyone's account, including Al's (if one takes the time to listen to him).

But most of these mistakes Al has made amends for, at least in my eyes.

The team was moved back to Oakland...

Al admitted firing Shell was a mistake (in the big picture it may be more valuable now for the Raiders to have Art as an exec in the NFL offices than back on the sideline)...

The deadwood favorite draft picks (Pinetime Buchanon, Nap Harris, etc.) have been trimmed from the roster...

The only real issue I have with Al Davis is his being overly concerned with legal issues instead of concentrating solely on on-the-field performance.

But this is not such a terrible fault, when one considers that when Al remains truly committed to excellence on the field, there is none more committed or more competent.

Why is it the mediots selectively accentuate the negatives while dismissing/distorting past and current successes?

Why are we constantly bombarded with "Al Davis is Ready for the Puzzle Factory" headlines instead of the "Al Davis Helps Former Raider Player Pay for Needed Medical Attention" stories?

At least two reasons come to mind...

First, it makes their jobs very easy to recycle the same old article bashing Davis. All that is required is to open the file marked "Al Davis", change the headline, then add some of the latest speculations. It is easier to be lazy than creative.

Second, saying something negative is certain to get readers to read a mediot's "work".

Do an experiment sometime with the TV news (it matters little which station or location, BTW). Count the number of stories with a positive spin (e.g., an old lady being helped across the street by a boy scout). Then count the number of negative stories (e.g., an old lady being pushed down the stairs by a boy scout).

Your tally certainly will show the number of negative stories significantly outweighs the positive ones, every time.

Why? The news media know that scaring the bejeepers out of us keeps us coming back... hmmm, let's reinforce the Raider fans' fear that Al Davis is senile and surely is running the team into the ground... yeah, that's the ticket!

The mediots also know that controversy (no matter how baseless in fact) will get us talking around the proverbial water cooler and cause folks to tune in. Increased viewership means more money from sponsors of their program (advertisers).

The lack of accountability Harvey mentions is exactly what I like about RaiderTake. Let's tell the mediots we are not just stoopid sheep grazing on their fodder...

BTW, I thought Ann Jillian was a waitress on that '80s sitcom It's a Living... what's she doing writing about football?!


12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny stuff here. In the 2002 Super Bowl, media pundits were on the fence regarding Al Davis. If the Raiders had won the game, he would be depicted as a genius. If they lost, he would remain a crazy old coot. Funny how one game decides your life.

Here in the Nation, we can all agree on the successes of the Raiders, and on Al Davis' role. But, to be fair, the man has done some pretty wacky shit over the years.

Now, it's his team and we all know bosses who have their own reality distortion field that surrounds them. Steve Jobs goes out and says that a new product is available right now when it's not on the shelf and won't ship for 3 weeks--and he gets away with it. People put up with his weird shit because iPods rock and Apple makes money. Al Davis' weird shit, on the other hand ... maybe if he came out with a RaiderPod, all silver and black and filled with Raider songs and highlight videos. (Actually, that's a damn good idea ... they'd make a fortune. They could also sell a Niner version that costs more and doesn't work. John York used to sell toys ...)

I could go off on a list of Al's wacky shit, but I won't. We all have our own lists. But, to put aside all the bullshit reporting about Al Davis, the Raiders, Raider fans (ooh, lock up your daughters, run for your life), there are some insights we can fish out from the sea of bad reporting.

There are former Raider coaches who talk rather negatively about the impact of Al Davis' involvement in the coaching of the team. Some of the coaches just plain suck (yes, you, Joe Bugel), and others have gone on to be (more) successful elsewhere. It's fair to question Al's role in the Raiders' failures as well as their successes.

Yes, the Raiders were great in the 60s, 70s, early 80s, and the early 00s. But there was a lengthy stretch between Plunkett and Gannon that would fill only a short highlight reel. And have you seen the Raiderette videos from the LA years? They even made the cheerleaders in bikinis look bad. After the great Gannon-Brown-Rice years, we're even worse than we were before them.

Some fans love Al, others don't, but he sure makes for good jokes over beer in the parking lot before the game. And how many John York jokes can you make? Talk about boring ...

Just remember, football's just a game. The real shame in not making the playoffs is that there are fewer tailgate parties in a year, because the brotherhood of the Nation makes Raider fans the best in sports.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm kind of getting off topic here, but there is a lot of talk on some other boards about the current search for a coach, and the jist (from Nancy Gay herself) is this; AL was "BS'd" by Saunders last week, who told him everything he wanted to hear. Everyone else in the organization wants Pat Hill but Davis is stuck on another retread in Saunders.

I'm not passing judgement (though I think I would prefer Hill), but it will be interesting to see how this plays out. If her version is true, I'm sure we'll have other members of the media jumping in line to pass judgement on Al; Genius (if he hires Hill) or Jackass (if he hires Saunders).

Should be interesting, as always!...

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an update out there saying the Texans are backing off a committment to Bush at #1, in light of public pressure. Same piece says they'll pay Carr's bonus in March then trade him. If I can find the article again I'll provide the link. This is going to be a loooooooong off season....

12:56 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

To all, thanks for the great comments and feedback. I've been away traveling with limited Internet access, and it was nice to return and see these homefires burning.

We can all agree to disagree on certain things (such as Al Davis), but awful anti-Raiders journalism will always unite us.

At some point, an editor needs to step in and exert some basic professional standards on his or her writers, and draw a line between thoughtful criticism and immature cheap shots. One is journalism, the other is not.

2:42 PM  

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