Thursday, March 09, 2006

Shades of Silver

A wildfire of healthy debate blazed across the comments section last week, and much of it revolved around not how a Raiders fan should act when we’re winning (that’s easy enough), but how we should comport ourselves when we're losing and, for some, unconvinced that solutions are forthcoming. It was a great discussion, because it showcased the delicate balance of unity and diversity for which the Raider Nation is known.

At what point does legitimate criticism give way to shrill pessimism? Conversely, at what point does cautious optimism yield to blind cheerleading?

There is no easy answer. I’ve been accused of having my lips glued to Mr. Davis’s backside while hallucinating sunshine during thunderstorms. Yet if you scroll through my posts during the 2005 season, you will find ample criticism of the team and its play. Others have been accused of being entirely negative, to the point of wishing ill on the Raiders because they enjoy wagging their fingers so much. I hope that these folks simply sound harsher than they really are.

There are always extremes, but I would say that 99 percent of Raiders fans are neither blind optimists nor profound pessimists. Within that 99 percent, however, there many shades of silver, as it should be. Personally, I will always err on the side of optimism. However, I don’t think that makes me any more noble than someone who takes a more critical stance. It’s just different viewpoints. As long as we can back up our takes, there’s room for all of us.

I will say that being a fan should be fun. If you’re not having fun, it’s time for a reality check. That doesn’t mean you can’t get pissed off at Kerry Collins as he throws another ball into the first row, that you can’t gnash your teeth when Norv Turner plays to lose. But in the balance, at the end of the day, it should be fun. The term fan implies fanatic. At some level, it’s a fundamentally irrational concept. You love your team from the heart, not your head.

I think that’s why I err on the side of optimism, especially when there is no evidence to the contrary. For example, I don’t know all the circumstances that led to the hirings of Art Shell and Tom Walsh. Perhaps the coaching search was totally bungled. But I don’t have any evidence of that (despite what the media and their unnamed sources say). Therefore, as a fan(atic), I’m going to stand behind Mr. Davis and the Raiders and trust that they did it their way. Nor do I have any evidence that Mr. Davis, Coach Shell and Tom Walsh are going to fail in 2006 (and what they did, good or bad, 12 years ago is irrelevant to today's game plan). Therefore, on that front, I see a clean slate with a glass half full.

Then again, if I wake up on Thursday morning to learn that Kerry Collins will return for another season, then my optimism will be challenged, as I have ample evidence that Collins can’t win games.

The bottom line is that between black and white there are many shades of silver.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to be a glass is half full kind of guy also but the thought of KFC under center bumbs me out and our OC Tom Walsh has me worried also. I dont know anything about him but the fact that hes been out of the game for so long cant be good. What style of O are we going to run and what are his qualifications? Maybe he is one hell of a "yes man" and thats why he got the job.I dont know. I think its the great unknown that worries me. One thing that I am certain of is that the draft, mini camps and the season cant come soon enough.


12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this.
I too am looking forward to next season
I dont know the reason of walsh and shell being hired, but i cant really believe that anyone wouldnt want to be one of only 32 people to coach a team simply because of Al Davis.
I think the o-line will be a completly diffrent line then last year.
And if collins is the man taking snaps.. which no raider fan is happy to hear, i still believe he can be effective. i dont believe in kerry alone of course, but this oline should be the heart of our team, we will succeed with them or fall with them it doesnt matter whos taking the snaps

6:53 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

RT, yet again, pure gold.

I'm as concerned as anyone, but I want to believe. I want to BELIEVE. We aren't talking about philosophy, politics, or religion here. This is simply a group of men that push themselves to succeed at a game that we enjoy. It should be fun. If it's not, then maybe the Raiders aren't for you. Has everyone forgotten the last dry spell? Ironically, it started when Shell lost his star RB and showed the first real sign of letting up when our dreams were halted by the "tuck rule". At the end of the day, we may be the winningest team in the world. We may believe in winning, unlike any other franchise. That said, anyone who truly loves the Raiders knows that it means taking the good and the bad in stride. Yes, there have been tough times. But you know, there is virtue in suffering. So, bitter or sweet, I love the Silver and Black.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

RT – It has always perplexed me why someone would wallow in misery. Do the pessimists enjoy being blanketed in negativity? Are they anti-fun masochists? To me life is just too short.

My glass is 1/2 full with KFC, 3/4 full without KFC. Even if the “Tin Man” returns, I am optimistic for the following reasons;

1) I believe the O-Line will be much improved

2) I believe the running game will set the tempo for the team and take some of the pressure off of KFC.

3) I believe Shell/Walsh will be more effective utilizing the receiving corps talent especially getting the ball to Moss on a more consistent basis.

4) I believe the D will continue to make strides w/the young guns on our roster (ie. Morrison, Schweigert, F.Washington, Routt, Asomugha, Kelly) having another year under their belt, w/the addition of 2-3 key draft choices, plus the addition of 1-2 free agents.

5) Finally, I believe that Art Shell will bring a sense of urgency, passion, tough leadership which will equate to better team chemistry and overall effort.

To all the pessimists: Whether 1-5 are true or not, I believe it in my heart and head.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get ready to have your optimism challenged because, with the CBA agreement in place, it sure looks like Collins will be returning

9:23 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

As someone (who knew much more about football than I ever will) once said, the game of football is won and lost in the trenches. With Art Shell as head coach, Jackie Slater coaching the o-line, and a ton of unrealized potential in our big uglies, I have a lot of optimism for our offense this year, no matter who's taking the snaps.

My hope right now is that we can have a good...and deep...draft this year. Recent history seems to dictate otherwise, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Al/Art make smart decisions and try not to reach too far for undeveloped athletic specimens that need plenty of work to become stars in the NFL.

10:51 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

11:05 AM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

nicely said RT. heres my take, i believe in loyalty. if i wear the colors i support the team, top to bottom, from brass to dumbass. doesn't mean i agree with every decision made. but i root for them to work out. by rooting i don't mean silently pulling for em to work while ripping the decision to anyone who will listen. that (to me) is unloyal.

i am a football coach, i make the D calls, when i get overridden by the MAN and send in his play i don't walk up and down the sidelines bitchin and whinning that that was stupid, even if it was and didn't work. i have to present to everyone around me that i beleive (i repeat, I believe)because it has a trickle down effect. if i act like i don't like whats goin on then this guy over here bails on the concepts too, then another and another, the next thing you see is the finger pointing and disention.

now, the guy that hired me deserves my loyalty. i give it to him upon being hired. even if i think i know more than him, i HAVE to act like he knows more than me. otherwise i'd be interviewing him instead of visa versa. he's the man that got the job.

i equate Al Davis to my HC. he has givin me the best football memories of my fan-lifetime. time and again he keeps comin thru when everyone says it's over for him. i'll still believe in him. he's earned my loyalty. nobody in the world is goin to make the right choice every single time there's one to be made. but Al has come thru for me before and i believe he's still the most capapble person that i'd like to have makin those calls because of his track record with ME. it's called loyalty. he's wrong alot, so am i, so are you. loyalty is what you do when he is wrong. if you'd like to call it blind loyalty thats fine, Al has earned MINE.

the return to glory may take a while because there are sooo many things wrong. so with this too i agree with Al, bring back some of the old cast to restore some RAIDERNESS back into the players, redirect them. get rid of the unworthy (KFC) and bring in some that are. you make the call who Al, you've got my support because you've done it time and time and time again.

2:48 PM  
Blogger js said...

During offseasons I'm neither optimist nor pessimist, at least until I see who gets cut and who is added. I prefer a stance of sober realism; it keeps me from being too disappointed when things go wrong.

I don't envy Davis and Company the decisions they have to make. They've got a tight budget (though the CBA will loosen it some), an irritable fan base, and a lot of needs to address. The emphasis of the organization is on winning now, and I respect that. But whether we keep Kerry Collins or not, winning now might be a problem. Art Shell has been out of the league a long time and is taking over a (currently) troubled organization. If you look at two others who've done that--Dick Vermeil and Joe Gibbs--you see that their first years back are tough. They went a combined 11-21 their first seasons back from long absences. (In fact, Vermeil's first two years back with the Rams saw him post the same record Norv Turner did: 9-23. The following year, of course, the Rams won the Super Bowl.)

A new starting QB will take time to develop and find a rhythm with an unfamiliar receiving corps. Keeping Kerry Collins brings with it its own set of problems, as RT pointed out. In addition to his penchant for the heart-breaking interception and his Colossus-at-Rhodes-like mobility, Collins's presence depresses ticket sales, hurts team revenues, and keeps the Raiders from paying the kinds of bonuses that attract good free agent talent. I know I won't get NFL Sunday Ticket or buy a seat at this year's Seahawks-Raiders game if Collins is the starter, and does anyone buy the Kerry Collins jersey? I'd say it's time for the Raiders to roll with the new, but I wouldn't expect that to pay off instantly.

Running the ball a lot should help the O-line through its growing pains, but the Raiders need a couple of backs to spell Lamont Jordan (and a good full-time fullback to clear linebackers or safeties out of the gaps). And that doesn't even begin to address the issues of LB, SS, DT and a DE to complement Derrick Burgess.

Overall, I'd say the Raiders are a year or two from contention. This year, if we made it to 8-8, I'd pop the champagne. Is that optimism or pessimism? Take your choice.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Awesome takes, all of them. Thank you!

P.S. JS, I don't think that makes you an optimist or a pessimist, perhaps just a realist. A record of 8-8 (especially if it included four victories against division rivals) would pave a yellow brick road for me.

Any time you double your win total from one year to the next, it's hard to complain (except, I guess, if you were 1-15 and went to 2-14, which wouldn't be too cool).

3:37 PM  
Blogger js said...

Well, 4-12 after a 2-14 season, or 6-10 after a 3-13 season wouldn't look too good either. But point taken.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a dream!!! In my dream, the Raiders make the playoffs as a wild card, and then beat the Chefs, Donks, & Charmers...all on the ROAD!!! Then go on to beat whoever in the SB. How's that for positive thinking. Whatever you do, if KFC comes back, don't wake me up.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Love your dream Raider 00. I have a similar dream but mine starts with the Raiders fleecing the Vikes again by hijacking Culpepper. Culpepper making his 1st start in game #5 at the House of Thrills, hits Moss in stride for a 72 yard stike on the 1st possession. Donning jersey #11 which he traded Sea-Bass for a crate full of Dewer's Whiskey, Dr. Pepper sets us on course for an electric season. Starting off the season 1-3 under the game Walter, Dr. Pepper leads us on a tear and 10-6 finish. The Raiders earn the last wild card spot. The Silver & Black spank the donkeys in the 1st round, the Steelers in the 2nd round, and play the Patsies in the AFC Conference championship in the snow. Leading 16-13 with 2:21 to go, Burgess ices the game by sacking Bobby Brady causing Brady to fumble. In SBXLI, Culpepper and Moss share MVP honors in a blowout 38-13 W over the Cowgirls. Jerry Jones is seen crying on the sidelines. Tags hands the Lombardi Trophy to Al. Al cradling the Lombardi Trophy to his bosom says "In the darkest hour, when no one believed in the greatness of the Raiders, we stayed the course and did it the Raider way."

Of course if KFC is under center in 2006 I'm hitting the snooze button and rolling over for a few more lucid winks.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

On a completely unrelated note, let me take a brief moment to invite everyone to my Yahoo! fantasy baseball league being held 10 PM ET (7 PM PT) this Saturday night (3/11). It's a deep league (15 batters, 10 pitchers) so if you know your baseball, come on in! If anything, it's a good time to kill time until the football season starts.

Yahoo! league ID: 222846
Password: royals

(yes, I'm a Royals fan...we all have our crosses to bear)

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wanna talk about dreams? how about this for a dream. The CBA doesn't go through, al davis can't hang financially with the richer owners/teams of the league and is eventually forced to sell the team TO a local buyer and one who would keep the team in oakland. that local buyer is? larry ellison of oracle!

larry ellison who is looking for a team to own purchases the raiders. tagliabue embraces larry, they become buds and the two have a harmonious relationship. larry is invited to tag's retirement party. coaches or prospective coaches suddenly are beating down the raiders' doors just begging to coach this team. tom brady is traded to the raiders and admits that it WAS a fumble. the raiders hire a real GM, have a wise and sensible draft(s), the refs stop sticking it to us in games , we stay out of the courts and the only headlines we have are us winning games and championships. the raiders are back at the top for many years and are one of the model franchises other organizations look up to.

then my doorbell rings and i must wake up because the direct tv guy is here to do his install - dang, what a fantastic dream!

then i realize that reading all the articles about davis being influential in the CBA vote translates to him groveling at the owners asking them to "help a brutha out!"

my hope is that we do something sensible with this draft, especially with our first pick. i prefer defense, always do. offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.

have a nice weekend all!

9:49 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

Calico, if at all possible, I need Janikowski to keep #11. I'd hate to have to buy another custom authentic jersey.

Granted the exposure is limited. I'm probably the only guy with one, other than the man himself.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After three days in technology hell in Motown, during which time my job unfortunately interfered with all things Raiders, i am happy to be back.

While Raiders fans passionately argue postively and negatively on Mr Davis in this space, I can report there is almost universal hate for the Lions front office. It rivals the borderline homicidal wishes most New Yorkers have for Isiah Thomas's single-handed destruction of my hometown hoops team. There are no shades of silver in Motown or the Apple. They have no clue or plan and hopefully today's waiver wire will begin to reveal the Raiders plan. Still can't see us not axing KFC, even with the additional cap room, because it gives us the chance to make some FA moves....and I'm with all of you who want D, D, D.

Word has it that my next biz trip will be to none other than Oaktown, about a week before the draft. Sounds like a Raider Take field trip is in order--keep the night of the 19th open, my brothers!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

LK, we'll have Gorilla Rilla pick you up at the airport.

SIRIUS NFL Radio had a report yesterday mid evening, saying that a trade of Culpepper was imminent to an unnamed team. They then named the Raiders as the suspected team. Five hours later, I was back in my car, and they had backed off, saying only that a trade was likely, and they didn't mention any team specifically. Today's internet reports are pretty vague.

Could be an interesting weekend, one way or the other, considering all the post-CBA drama.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RT- I heard that Culpepper would be traded by midnite and the team was not the Raiders...I heard we are interested in John Abraham, but I have seen no transactions indicating we could do that, or that we are even under the cap yet. Did read [somewhere] that Zack re-did his deal tos ave some cash. Could be a very strange weekend indeed....

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah i heard that abraham rumor too. BUT that would entail giving up our 1st because the guy is franchise tagged. i would rather go with a youngster LB stud like Hawk if we can get him or perhaps Williams. i would HATE for the WHINERS to end up with either of these cats so AL MUST DO SOMETHING!!!!! if we end up with either of these guys, i won't say another unkind word about AL - this year that is.


in case you didn't notice, the buccaneers kicked our asses with theirs in the superbowl 3 years back!

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shades of silver, RT?

I don't believe in the Raiders and Al Davis...

I know.

How do I know?

I have experienced it.

The experience of Freddie B making a catch a mere mortal would have dropped...and the ref having to put a new ball in play 'cause the old one was too sticky…and Fred is named MVP...

The experience of Old Man Willie's eyes wide with adrenalin as he returns the INT of his lifetime, and mine...

The experience of Art Shell beating down Jim Marshall, in what many (including myself) consider the only perfect game by an offensive lineman...

No one can take these experiences away from me, nor suggest they are not the truth.

Are these just livin' in the past memories of the first Super Bowl win in Raider history?

No they are not. These three players won the big game together, and they are still in the game, together. All three have shown nothin' but everlastin’ loyalty for this team…and they have mine.

When Culpepper comes aboard and Kerry Collins is jettisoned like two day old Chinese takeout...

When AJ Hawk is drafted and DeLawance Grant is jettisoned like a Slab O'Ribs...

I know Freddie B, Old Man Willie, and How Great Thou Art Shell know the way to win.

You think Al Davis gave Tagliaboob the assist in these CBA meetings--instead of crucifying ‘em like he to do Pete Roselle--for a reason?

Think about it…

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gove, Walker,Stone,Sims absolutely suck. Its a major problem that is not going to be fixed in one season. Gallery hasn't set the world on fire. The word around the league is he lacks toughness at the point of attack, and it looked that way last year. Grove is just to small and lacks strenght to match up in the NFL. If you saw him play last year you saw him on the ground after most snaps. Jerry Porter has to be dealt with. Art Shell's first test will be when Jerry dogs it like he did last year and doesn't run out his routes, because he isn't the primary receiver and Art lets him get away with it, then nothing will change. Let see if Porter will play in the preseason games, remember last year what he said. "he didn't feel he didn't need to play in them". We will see. Schweigert, has to recognize formations and be able to respond when he has deep coverage. The guy was always late helping deep.
He took to many bad angles and then would miss the tackle. Everybody is hot for Gabriel but those of us who were there last year saw he still doesn't run correct patterns, and he dropped important 3rd down passes, just like Porter did. I don't understand why they haven't given Morant, and Francis a shot. We have a real problem at running back, we have one running back on the team period. When you look at the draft you really don't know if the players are starters or are they starting because the team is so bad. Danny Clark made very few tackles in the backfield most were made past the line of scrimmage. We need help at middle linebacker. Well, I will leave it there and look for your opinions.

4:33 PM  

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