Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Stop The Presses

In a rare moment of self awareness, ESPN recently published a column calling for a “Tired Sports Story Ban,” which humorously diagnosed the condition of “topic fatigue” in the sports media. Of course, ESPN did not heed its own columnist’s advice, so it’s back to business as usual: Barry Bonds is still the devil, Brett Favre is still untouchable, and Dan Patrick is still on his shaky high horse.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about topic fatigue as it relates to the Oakland Raiders. I am now urging media outlets to stop the presses if they find themselves once again tempted by the following tired takes:


Before being tapped as new offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, Tom Walsh resided in Idaho, acted as mayor of his small town, and
ran a guest ranch (which some are calling a “bed and breakfast” to conjure up images of herbal tea and laced pillows instead of the reality of beer, guns and fly fishing). Now, I believe that this Idaho stuff was a legitimate factoid when Walsh was hired. How could you not mention it? I sure did. It was certainly different, and kind of funny (or sad, depending on your viewpoint). However…can we move on, now? It’s getting old. It’s been nearly two months since Walsh was hired, but we still have articles being penned around this theme. I get it, we all get it, so get over it. Tom Walsh is our OC. He's our man now. I'm glad he's been out in the forest drinking beer and shooting guns. Norv Turner ought to try it.


As Mr. Davis ages, he is faced with the challenges of aging. Just like the rest of us. Yet enterprising sportswriters see something more in Mr. Davis’s infirmities. They see cosmic symbolism in the perceived decline of Mr. Davis’s health and the recent misfortunes of the Oakland Raiders. You see, just four years ago, when the Raiders marched to the Super Bowl, Mr. Davis was miraculously as spry and mobile as your average teenager. Since then, however, he has aged in dog years, and thus the Raiders’ misfortunes last year were more about Mr. Davis’s aluminum walker than Norv Turner and Kerry (Prematurely Retired) Collins.

If Mr. Davis is so feeble, how did he make it to Dallas to play an instrumental role in the NFL’s new CBA? His input earned praise from Paul Tagliabue (both men are intellectual giants), and now Mr. Davis is part of the select committee assembled to identify Tagliabue’s successor. So if I read one more story that tries to connect Mr. Davis’s physical health to the Raiders’ on-field misfortunes, I’m going to beat the author with my cane.


Every year, we have to read stories like
this piece of tripe and dodge sniper fire from Raider Take’s favorite columnist and others armchair reporters who judge from afar. The Raider Nation has earned its reputation for being the most intense, colorful and loyal fan base in the NFL. But the slander goes far beyond those adjectives, mischaracterizing the average Raiders fan as violent and ignorant.

A popular variation on this theme is the brave soul daring to go to a Raiders game, supposedly risking both life and virtue, only to find out that…it’s not so bad. Well, it was never that bad. You mean Raiders fans don’t barbecue vampire bats and kick babies in the parking lot? What a scoop.

ESPN has been one of the biggest perpetrators of topic fatigue on this front. Click here and here for examples. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the spotlight on some of the best and brightest characters of the Raider Nation. But can we at least come up with a fresh take on the subject?

However, in fairness, I must praise one of these ESPN correspondents for truly absorbing and articulating the spirit of the Raider Nation: “The great thing about Raider Nation is that it transcends everything: race, religion, gender, and age. Raider Nation encompasses everything that manages to divide us everywhere but at a football game. Everyone is welcome, and no one is a stranger for longer than it takes to crack open a cold one.”

Wow. That's good poetic stuff. In fact, that's a fresh take. Roll the presses...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant, funny, insightful. I will try to hold off the B&B jokes, but my comedic repertoire is pretty limited. Comparisons to Bill Walsh? Brandon Walsh? (That last one is from 90210 ... sorry, we still get that show here in Japan.)

Can we still make fun of KFC?

2:57 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I've taken my family to Oakland the last 2 years for a game and never felt safer. I'm sure fights and such break out, but that happens at all stadiums. I've had way more problems going to Arrowhead as just a casual football fan (no Raider gear or attitude). The "all Raider fans live in their mother's basement" crap is media hype and blathering by writers trying to add value to their publication... Good read!

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said as usual RT. On a slightly different topic, have you seen the Oakland Tribune today? Jery McDonald reports that the Raiders are holding a "secret" minicamp as we speak and have barred the media.

I tend to think that the media is a little oversensitive when it comes to the Raiders and the way they do things, but I happen to agree with him on this one. Every beat writer covers every team's minicamps! Wouldn't you like to hear how Shell addressed the troops? The players' impressions of playing for a Raider legend? What kind of omlettes Walsh made for the team before the morning practice (sorry, I couldn't resist!)?

It seems like a curious, albeit familiar, approach for a team that is attempting to market their own season tickets for the first time in over 10 years.

Sorry RT, didn't mean to hijack your post!

6:27 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I really enjoyed your piece RT. Cheers!

The recycling of newsprint stories is due to a lack of creativity and original ideas. It is very similar to the movie industry where they are constantly doing remakes and sequels.

The "Al Davis' health" story angle is really getting old (no pun intended). At age 76 he has a bad hip. Big deal. His mind is sharp. His focus and passion is still devoted to the Raiders. It wouldn't suprise me if Al is running the team another 10+ years. His mother lived to 100.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Tokai Japan Outpost, I'm still laughing about your flying pigs take on Raider Nation Podcast's forum about four months ago. (That was you, wasn't it?). I'm pretty confident that I haven't cramped your style!

Amen, Gibberish. That's the good news. Thanks for spreading it.

Mad Stork, I had not seen that article. Thanks for pointing it out. I love it. Secrecy is a great Raiders tradition. I respect McDonald, he is one of the best. He makes some valid points. I'm not sure I would encourage the Raiders to lift their veil of secrecy just to possibly sell more tickets. However, I do think they need to do a better job of marketing the mystique. Preaching to the choir is easy. Earning converts isn't. But I think newcomers will buy into the secrecy and mystique if you demonstrate good reasons for it (authenticity, originality, legacy).

Thanks, CJ...You're right, I stood at the movie theater a few months ago and spotted seven posters of current and upcoming films that were sequels or remakes. Nice factoid about Mr. Davis's mother. I'm not surprised that he's got good genes!

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like it's been business as usual the last week in Raider Nation, as I was 'forced' to spend the last week in Argentina to earn the necessary coin to support my silver and black habit. Great place, the steaks there would be the highlight of any Raider Nation tailgate....saw about 200 women down there--199 tens and one nine--yikes! Secret Raider camps remind me of Raider days gone by, gotta be a good thing....

7:43 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Horsecollarjack sent me an email with some good points. Due to a technical glitch on Blogger, he is unable to directly post comments here, so I am posting them on his behalf:

"I can't help but feel a little put off by the 'secret' mini-camps. I mean, what is there to hide? And in today's NFL, where fans are hungrier than ever for information on their teams, having a chat with Robert Gallery about what kind of shoes Shell recommends he wears would help build hype. There are so many great storylines, and while putting on the "veil" of secrecy might've worked in years past, in my opinion there is too much to be gained from allowing fans access to as much pre-season happenings as possible. Come on Raiders! We love you! Can't you love us back?"


10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at it this way, Al Davis is Willie Wonka, he doesn't have to share any info, trust the man! in a couple of years we will be in the promissed land, we will be drinking champagne and laughing at all the bunch of morons that don't know and won't ever know what being a true loyal Raider fan is all about!

Peace my Raider family

P.S. I loved the Spike and Howie story.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, Mike White pulled a Brutus on Art Shell during his previous HC tenure. Shell was fired and White hired in the resulting coup.

Once Al Davis learned of the backstabbing, he regretted firing Shell and decided to make amends now.

The reason for Shell picking Tom Walsh is simple, and it's got nothing to do with his making good blueberry pancakes or being mayor of Mayberry, Idaho.

Shell trusts Walsh because Walsh proved his loyalty during his past tenure. Shell did not want to nab the next Bill Walsh protégé genius as his OC (Mike White WAS that, after all). Instead, Shell learned from his past mistakes and covered his back, lest it be stabbed again.

Walsh is not an inspiring choice, granted. Walsh won't undermine Shell to get his own glory though, will he?

Second, anyone who saw Al Davis at the latest press conference could not help but notice his mind is still sharp and his cojones are still intact. Whether or not his leg is bothering him and he looks puffy matters little, because Al doesn't actually play the game on Sundays, now does he?

What? You'd rather have him get plastic surgery a la Jerry Jones and look like an astronaut re-entering at 4 Gs? Not me.

Third, I can be a Neanderthal. I enjoy it. For example, the only sound I utter first thing in the morning is "Uhnnngnh."

This all-purpose grunt means everything from "Good morning, dear" to "I'd like to poke you in the eye with a sharp stick, wench", depending on my inflection. My significant other has no idea which. Beautiful in it's simplicity, no?

Grog go back to cave now. Grog drag her back to cave for good bone jumping. Uhnnngnh.

BTW, the Raiders just resigned Lance Johnstone.

2:53 PM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

"the shroud of secret minicamps" lmao, you want to get someones attention, don't let em look at what your doing. check it out, it's working already, we're all out here murmuring about it, it hasn't even happened yet. albiet we ARE the leading edge.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Johstone could be a nice, situational pass rusher but obviously not an every down type starter since he isn't effective vs. the run. Here is ESPN Insider's scouting report;

"Johnstone has good height and a wide frame. He has excellent initial quickness and snap-anticipation. He wins a lot of battles with his first step quickness. He still has excellent straight-line speed for the position. He has the speed to turn the corner on a consistent basis. However, Johnstone is aging and he's bound to lose a step sooner than later. He lacks bulk. Has a narrow base. Does not show the lower body strength to anchor at the POA. Will be in a lot of trouble if reached when teams run at him. Needs to be fresh in order to be effective, because he has to be on the move. He offers very little in terms of a power pass rush."

Not to change the subject but is everyone amazed at all the draft wonks, so called experts who are projecting the Raiders taking Vince Young? I checked the Raiders draft history. Since 1963(the year before I was born!) Al has only selected 2 QBs in the 1st round ... Marc Wilson in 80' and Marinovich in 91. That's 2 QBs in 42 years. Would a betting man think that Al would buck this trend for a QB project? I think not.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ: Well, Al did draft Eldridge Dickey, QB, Tennessee St. with the 1st round pick in '68 before selecting Ken Stabler in round 2...does that count? LOL!

Al Davis always drafts the best available athlete. Young could qualify on that count...

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the best things about being a Raider Fan, is dealing with all the Haters. Laugh at em, they Hate that even more.P-}
As for tired news, I am tired of the pre draft hysteria coming from every "Draft Guru", in the world. I am not talking about Die Hard fans who love their team and are hoping for "their guy", to put on the Silver & Black. I am talking about all the writers from every stinkin' paper & magazine their is giving their mock draft. Like anyone outside of Al Davis' inner circle has a clue who the Raiders will pick come Draft Day. Y'all know the last time someone got a draft pick right for the Raiders on Draft Day, it was by accident.
As for me I think we will see a some Justice, in the 1st round. Why else would Lombardi follow him around on USC's Pro Day??? Why because we are going to move up and take Leinart, that's why. I can't wait until the day comes when we have earned the 32nd pick in the Draft!

10:27 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'em: Thanks for the correction. I must have glossed over '68. The BAA theory might mean Vernon Davis too. Who knows? It should be an interesting, suspenseful draft. :}

6:27 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Good points everyone. Unfortunately, I think we're going to be stuck with the B&B jokes at least halfway through the season...or at least until we run out of games with national exposure and the guys up in the booth tire of mentioning it. And of course, if they make it to the playoffs we'll have to hear it there too but, hey, at least those comments will be in a positive light! "Tom Walsh, making an incredible comeback to the NFL..."

Stick'em, as to your take on Tom Walsh's hiring, I'm not sure if Art's that concerned about back least not right now. I don't know if Art sees Tom as a long term solution, but he's at least a quick one. I think that if he had the time, Art might have pursued a different option. The way I see it, after what Al had to do to get a head coach, Art had little time to recruit a new OC. Therefore, he knew he had his old pal Tom to fall back on, so he decided it was best to bring Walsh back and move forward quickly so that they could play catch-up with the rest of the league and focus on the draft and other off season movements. If Walsh works out fine this year, great. If not, they can re-evaluate the position for next year.

The good thing about Walsh is that both Al and Art know what to expect from his style of offense (Raider-style!) and have given it their blessing. My biggest concern right now is his knowledge of opposing defenses and his ability to make mid game adjustments.

As for Al's walker, I can understand the media's pleasure in making the analogy to a broken down franchise but, on the other hand, I don't recall the media having a similar field day with a wheelchair-bound FDR when he was leading the US during the Depression and during WWII (of course, being only 35, I wasn't around then to recall anything).

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to follow up on the "secret minicamp" story from yesterday, reports that the Raiders were totally within the rules in excluding the media. NFL teams MUST allow media access for training camp and all mandatory minicamps. But this was a VOLUNTARY minicamp, so they weren't obliged to let anyone in.

I also found it encouraging that every member of the team was there except for one unnamed player who had a "scheduling conflict". I have a feeling that one unnamed player might be feeling the glare af Artie's angry pupils when he returns to Alameda!

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ: It wasn't meant as a correction so much as a good-hearted laugh at the lack of any decent QBs drafted and developed by the Raiders- ever- except for one Ken Stabler.

Seems like Dickey was a QB-->WR project before Ronald Curry was even born. Best athlete and all that, but not a serious thought to be an NFL QB.

Doobie: Not suggesting the only motives Shell has for bringing Walsh aboard are paranoia and convenience. Certainly Shell is not going to have to explain to Walsh how he does things.

Perhaps Shell also wants to reward Walsh's loyalty, as he expects to set an example to the players of how they may be rewarded for their loyalty as well?

Loyalty has definitely been M.I.A. in Oakland these last few years, with many of the players (Collins, Woodson, Buchanon, etc.) seemingly more concerned with counting their cheddar than their wins and losses.

2:32 PM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

when we hired shell we inherited walsh. art had told him for years that if he ever got another NFL gig that he's be his OC. maybe it's convenient, i'll tell ya one thing tho, it sure smacks of trust and brotherhood to me. hmmm, maybe they are leading by example already. we think we know whats up then BLAM!! everything becomes clear, and we realize we had no idea. that sneeky Al, and still we never see it comin'!!

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al Davis picking a QB in the 80's, 90's, and now the 00's. It's possible. But I'm no guru, and I watch the draft like everyone else, and the suspense feels good this year. I still feel the ol is where Al is going to give the weapons we have a chance to show the haters we are here to win! Secret mini camps, oh yeah...thats what I like to hear. Art has the team coming to be focused this year. It's great to see and hear the Raider Nation is focused too.


11:30 PM  

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