Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gear of The Week: Oakland Raiders by Luniz

Those of you who have been hanging around this joint know that Raider Take is generally G-rated, unless I’m quoting Art Shell talking to Jerry “WTFDYTYA” Porter—or selecting “Oakland Raiders” by Luniz as Gear of The Week.

This song, from the album Silver & Black, is often heard thumping at Coliseum tailgates. The chorus has a great hook that sticks in your head: “I’m a Raider, Oakland Raider, from the Bay to L.A. to Las Vegas.” Be prepared for some creative language, too. You’ve been forewarned.

To purchase the album, click here. The individual song can be purchased on iTunes.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Raider Take Express for 7/29

Here is the latest edition of the Raider Take Express, our weekly roundup of activities and adventures around the turf of Raider Take. Please keep sending your ideas, tips and feedback to Don't be shy! We want to hear from you.

1. Caleb wrote and sent the accompanying photo: “This is a picture from a Chargers fan, a shot of the Chargers’ tunnel into the locker room.” He sent it as a reminder of Art Shell’s message that the Raiders are deeply hated across the AFC West, and that it’s high time the Raiders returned the favor. Revenge will be sweet on the evening of September 11 in Oakland, eh? Thanks for the bulletin board material, Caleb!

2. William B. wrote to inform Raider Take of this article about a recent dinner celebrating Art Shell in the company of other Raider legends, including Jim Otto, Cliff Branch, Ben Davidson, Pete Banazak and others. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I'll bet they told some good stories.

3. Horsecollarjack reported that he purchased season tickets for the first time this week, proving that it’s not too late. If you’re on the fence about season tickets, I urge you to look into it—you’ll be impressed by the pricing options and the customer service. Call my guy at the Oakland Raiders ticket office, Jhmichea (pronounced Juh-MIKE-uh) Snyder, at 1-800-RAIDERS ext. 3225. He’ll set you up. Tell him Raider Take sent you.

4. Jerry "WTFDYTYA" Porter pulled his groin this morning. Apparently, he was trying to put on his belt and accidently got jabbed by a dollar sign. This is the latest in a rash of injuries to Porter. He tore a rotater cuff counting his $13 million signing bonus last year, and he pulled a hamstring running out of Art Shell's office a few months ago.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Circle The Wagons

Circle the wagons, Raiders fans, because here come the bandwagons.

The commencement of training camp and the public smackdown of Jerry Porter have put Art Shell and the Oakland Raiders on center stage, and now folks are discovering what we’ve known all along—that Art Shell is a man with a plan, and that the Raiders are for real.

The revisionism is now officially underway, and when the Raiders start winning big again, the revisionism will turn into outright amnesia. Art Shell? What a brilliant hire! That Al Davis, I told you he still had it!

Actually, no, you didn’t. You told me that Art Shell’s hiring was an act of desperation and that Mr. Davis was a senile loser.

Remember five months ago, when the Raiders were methodically conducting their coaching search? Remember when teams were snatching up the gilded likes of Dick Jauron, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton, and the Raiders were supposedly left in the dust? At that time, the sports world cackled in near unison over the supposed madness of the Raiders and the alleged craziness of Al Davis. Now they’re discovering that there was a method to the madness after all, and that Al Davis is crazy like a fox.

We won’t be fooled by the revisionism. We will not accept the amnesia. We will pull your bandwagons over and ask for credentials. We will remember you asking us in the wake of Shell’s hiring, “Are we supposed to be impressed?” We will remember you telling us that “bringing back Art Shell is not the answer.”

We will remember that day, not long ago, when we stood resolute in the face of mockery, still believing and still faithful. The Return to Glory is being paved. Our wagons go first. Bandwagons can follow.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Porter's Failing Grade

Apparently, Jerry Porter didn't get Art Shell’s old-school memo, because he rolled into Napa on Tuesday wearing a massive gold belt bejeweled with dollar signs. A fur coat and mutton chops would have been much cooler, in my opinion.

In addition to his fancy belt, Porter also brought his bad attitude to training camp, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. Here is what Coach Shell had to say about that: “The culture is changing, and everybody has been on board and trying to get involved in the process of winning football games, and getting in here, working. You can't have inmates running the asylum. That's not gonna be. Not under me, and 99.9 percent of the players here feel that way. They want direction. We're going to give them direction. And I'm not going to back down off of that. A couple of the inmates have been trying to run the doggone culture around here. They've been running the program. And that's not gonna be anymore. I'm the head coach. I'm the guy in charge."

Any questions? Didn’t think so.

The headline to the story in the San Francisco Chronicle was: “Jerry Porter is already testing Art Shell.” Really? Okay, we’ve graded the test, and here are the results:

Shell: A+
Porter: F

Jerry’s new middle name is WTFDYTYA, which stands for the question Art Shell asked him a few months ago: Who the f**** do you think you are? Congratulations, Jerry “WTFDYTYA” Porter, you’ve just alienated your coach, your team and the Raider Nation.

Ultimately, Jerry “WTFDYTYA” Porter picked the wrong fight, at the wrong time, with the wrong man. He miscalculated, thinking that the team’s financial investment in him—including a $13 million signing bonus last year—gave him attitudinal carte blanche. Instead, he just might find himself picking splinters out of his ass in September.

That would be fine with me. Like I said two months ago: it's Doug Gabriel time.

P.S. Let’s review the math of Jerry “WTFDYTYA” Porter. In 2005, Al Davis rewarded him with a $13 million signing bonus. At the time, he had recorded 163 receptions in his career. That translates to a bonus of $79,754 per catch, a figure that doesn’t even include his base salary. And how does he reward Al Davis? By spitting in the eye of the coach and Raiders legend that Mr. Davis has enlisted to turn the team around, so that Mr. Davis might have a shot at restoring the winning tradition of his beloved franchise. Jerry “WTFDYTYA” Porter is officially a lost cause, but his implosion has also served a great purpose in demonstrating that no one is above the law of Art Shell, and that a righteous smackdown awaits anyone who would dare to spit in the eye of greatness.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Training Camp Haiku

Pigskin soars above
the vines, a bomb about to
drop on the doubters.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Attention Rebel Outposts: Free Tickets!

Are you trapped in enemy territory such as Denver or Kansas City? Are you overseas, or south or north of the border? Hawaii? New Jersey? Washington? Wherever you might be in one of the many rebel outposts of the Raider Nation, there may be a pair of free Raiders tickets with your name on them.

Indeed, Raider Greg of Raider Nation Podcast has officially extended an invitation to readers of Raider Take to partipate in a contest that will award tickets to fans who reside 500 miles or more from Oakland. There will be a different winner for each home game. Apparently, a mystery fan has donated a pair of season tickets to the cause. Says Raider Greg: "It is his desire to give misplaced Raiders fans the opportunity to experience the RAIDER NATION at the Coliseum."

We're not talking about the top row of Mt. Davis, either. According to Raider Greg, these are really nice seats.

The entry rules are simple: (1) You must live 500 or more miles from Oakland; (2) register yourself and your most colorful profile photo on RNP's Frappr Map, to which you will find a link on the RNP homepage; (3) write or explain to Raider Greg via email message, audio file, video file or RNP comments forum why you merit a pair of free tickets; (4) if you win, pick up your tickets at the Coliseum two hours before gametime. The two preseason games are available to win without the 500-mile requirement. Click here for the official rules.

Raider Greg's email is

Of course, you must provide your own transportation and lodging. Remember, Oakland International Airport is just a few miles away from the Coliseum, so if you were really feeling adventurous, you could fly into Oakland in the early a.m., take a taxi to the tailgate, and fly out that night with a belly full of beer, a suitcase full of gear and memories that will last a lifetime.

Thanks to Raider Greg and Raider Randy of Raider Nation Podcast, as well as their generous mystery fan, for extending this invitation and opportunity to readers of Raider Take!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Haka for Napa

On the eve of training camp, I have a motivational idea for Coach Shell. I think that he should kick things off in Napa by having the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team fly in and perform their pre-game “haka” ritual. Have you seen it? If not, click here to check it out on (trust me, you won’t be disappointed). They’ve been doing it for literally 100 years. I’d like to see Warren Sapp join them, he’s got the moves. McQuistan, too. As you watch the video, keep an eye on the other team. They look stricken. This is what the Raiders of lore talk about, this aura of intimidation, the idea of the other team being beat the moment Oakland walked off the bus in the rival parking lot. Coach Shell knows the feeling. I'm glad he's back to teach it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Raider Take Express for 7/22

Today brings a new edition of the Raider Take Express, a our weekly roundup of adventures and activity around the vast plains of Raider Take. Please keep sending your thoughts, tips and ideas to You put the horsepower in the Raider Take Express! Here's what we wrangled up this week.

1. Do you have tickets yet? If not, you should call my guy at the Oakland Raiders ticket office,
Jhmichea (pronounced Juh-MIKE-uh) Snyder, at 1-800-RAIDERS ext. 3225. He is actually working on matching fans with other fans to split season tickets. How cool is that? He can also fill you in on the upcoming sale of single game tickets. Whatever your circumstance, he will help you help the Raiders fill the house this season. He works on Saturdays. If he's not available, leave him a message, he'll call you back. And be sure to tell him Raider Take sent you!

2. M-Diddy wrote to report a rather subtle bit of Raiders bashing on Fox Sports. In discussing the poor performance over the past five years by teams that were defeated in the Super Bowl to end the previous season, the writer calls each team “losers” of the Super Bowl, except for the Raiders, who are classified as “decisive losers." The Giants, who lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl by a score of 34-7, are not classified as “decisive losers,” just the Raiders. These Raiders Haters can be very sneaky, can’t they? Nice sleuthing, M-Diddy.

3. Art Shell is the media inverse of Norv Turner. Did you read the transcript of his interview with the media the other day? Talk about pride and poise. When asked to sum up the Tom Walsh system, he replied: “This is the Al Davis system. You've got to understand something. I grew up in this system. This is a system that allows us to attack from any place on the football field. Again, you've got to have the players to do that, and we feel we have the players to do that. This is a system that will allow you to play, and run the football with what we call power, where we're going to come downhill at you. We're going to attack the flanks. We're just going to run the football at you, then we're going to play-action, and strike from anywhere on the field.” Sure, it’s just talk right now, but it’s damned good talk. There is no question that this man has a vision for this team. How refreshing.

4. Eddie wrote to celebrate the good news about Paul McQuistan being named the presumed starter at right guard. Mighty Maq may be our first player powered by haiku into a starting role. This is one big brick in the nasty wall.

5. A.J. The Raider forwarded an email from Godfather Griz of the 66th Mob, who is rallying the troops for “Bring Back Da Nasty Family Day” at the Marriott Hotel in Napa, home of the Raiders training camp. Visit the 66th Mob web site and click on the Promotional Days link for information. The 66th Mob also has a cool new “Just Hit Baby” t-shirt that celebrates the mentality of the new Art Shell era.

6. On his latest Raider Nation Podcast, Raider Greg announces a cool opportunity. Apparently, a mystery donor is giving away some good seats to home games, specifically to Raiders fans from afar (500 miles or more, if I recall correctly) who want to make the trek to Oakland for a game. Raider Greg is cooking up a contest do determine who wins the seats. Tune in!

7. Patrick wrote to inform us of his Raiders blog on He’s got some nice pre-camp breakdowns, check it out.

8. Today marks the happy ending of Glass Half Empty here at Raider Take. I expected the pessimists among us to rise up and carry me on a magnificent wave of negativity, but that didn't happen. Most of us, it turns out, are quite enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming season. The autumn wind is already blowing. Raiiiderrrs! Raiiiderrrs!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Empty Your Glasses

Where have all the pessimists gone? They usually circle Raider Take like sharks, ready to take a bite out of the first sign of optimism. Yet here I am preaching the Glass Half Empty this week, only to find that my cranky congregation has mysteriously vanished. Where have you gone, my gloomy friends? Must I trudge this difficult path by myself, a lone voice of negativity in a happy wilderness of unworried Raiders fans?

Well, I sure hope not, because today I’m turning my pages over to you.

This is no time to be shy. We have already addressed the running game, the secondary and the quarterback position. But perhaps your worries lie elsewhere. Perhaps our offensive line still scares you. Perhaps you’re concerned that our defensive line will still be no match for the powerful running games of our division rivals. Perhaps the sight Sebastian Janikowski makes you break out in hives. Perhaps you just can’t get over the fact that our offensive coordinator was last seen running not an offense, but rather a guest ranch in Idaho. Perhaps you’re getting nervous that Kerry Collins is still unsigned and that we are one torn ACL away from bringing him back.

Perhaps your fears are so dark and twisted that I can’t even imagine what lies therein?

Need I remind you that about this time last year, you were feeling cocky, smug in the certainty that our offense—newly invigorated with the additions of Moss and Jordan—would cut a lethal swath through the NFL in 2005? And how did that work out?

Don't you want to be able to tell us, "I told you so!"—just in case things don't work out again?

Yes, the time is now to unburden yourself on Raider Take. Bare your negative soul. Confront those monsters hiding under your bed. Empty your glasses, so that you might finally refill them with the refreshing elixir of optimism.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Glass Half Empty: Quarterback

My reputation as a blind optimist has been forever soiled by Glass Half Empty Week. I’m now known as the cranky pessimist who is raining on everyone’s parade, right on the eve of training camp no less. I can’t win. Woe is me. I shall die a martyr.

On that note, I am looking forward to next week, when I can return to regularly scheduled optmisim. But hereafter, when people accuse me of putting lipstick on a toad, at least I’ll be able to say: “Look here, I was a pessimist once. For a whole week!”

But for now, I must finish my dirty work. I considered selecting special teams, and specifically Sebastian Janikowski, for Glass Half Empty treatment today. But that would be like shooting fish in a barrel, wouldn’t it? Too easy.

I thought about selecting our defensive line and linebackers. DT is an area of concern, although a healthy and motivated Warren Sapp can still do some damage. I’m not sure that rookies Howard and Bing should be counted on to make a big difference at the linebacker position, at least not this year. The book on Howard is that he has great talent but raw skills. Bing is a fourth-round pick who is being converted to OLB. These guys might be running around like beheaded chickens for a while.

So where does that leave us? Well, you didn’t think I’d let this week go by without engaging the most inflammatory topic known to Raiders fans, did you? I speak, of course, about the quarterback position.

Allow me to shield my ears as many of you shout: Andrew Walter!!! Andrew Walter!!! Hey, I love the idea of Andrew Walter as savior, too, but shouldn’t we at least wait for him to be officially elevated from third string to backup before we declare him the savior of the franchise? Shouldn’t we wait for him to take his first snap in a regular season NFL game? Shouldn’t we wait for his first injury-free season after suffering significant injuries over the past two years (one at ASU, the other in Oakland)?

If Andrew Walter is indeed our QB of the future, shouldn’t he be clearly competing for the lead role as he enters his second season? Yet it's looking more and more like Aaron Brooks was brought in to lead the team. Consider Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and other so-called QBs of the future. Did their teams bring in high-priced free agent starters as they began their second seasons?

Which, of course, brings us to Aaron Brooks. I’m personally psyched to see what he can do with this team. I’m convinced that he is a major upgrade over Collins. I’m….Wait, I forgot: pessimism, pessimism. Brooks is a castoff from the New Orleans Saints, much maligned in the Big Easy for his questionable decision-making, his casual attitude and his general underperformance. Of course, throwing to Moss, Porter, Gabriel and Curry might admittedly cure some of those ills. But all of them?

Oh, yeah, and we passed on Matt Leinart in the draft. I'm sure you won't pay any attention to Cardinals games over the next few years.

So who is going to lead us to the promised land anytime soon? Tui? You think? Walter? If so, why not start him now and get the ball rolling? Or Brooks? Based on what—the assumption that he will reinvent himself?

And thus concludes my role reversal as a temporary pessimist. Is your glass empty yet? Here, let me refill it—just short of halfway, of course.

P.S. Stay tuned for the final installment of Glass Half Empty on Friday, in which I will turn these pages over to your darkest fears.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Glass Half Empty: The Secondary

I have a newfound respect for the pessimists among us. It’s hard work, this pessimism stuff. I’m glad that I only committed to a week of Glass Half Empty here at Raider Take. A month of it might kill me off.

I considered selecting the offensive line for Glass Half Empty treatment today, but I just couldn’t do it. I truly expect the offensive line to be much improved this year. I don’t think that we had a talent problem on our offensive line last year, I think that we had a motivation problem exacerbated by a quarterback problem. Barry Sims said he liked Norv Turner, because Turner was approachable. That’s nice. How did Barry respond? He turned into a pillar of salt. Shell, Slater and Eatman will preach accountability, not approachability. Gallery will return to his natural position, and will be given no excuses for failing to take his game to the next level. McQuistan will loom large, ready to pick up slack if necessary. And the entire unit will be invigorated by the presence of Aaron Brooks, who will alleviate pressure on the line through mobility and improvisation, in stark contrast to the immobility and impotence of Kerry Collins.

Oops, sorry…I reverted to optimistic form there for a second.

I am selecting the secondary for Glass Half Empty treatment today. When you are counting on Stuart Schweigert—now entering his third season—to be your Yoda, your wise and grizzled backfield general, then perhaps you’re asking a lot? I’m as jacked up about Michael Huff as the next fan, but the rest of the unit needs to raise its game, right? Nnamdi Asomugha and Fabian Washington have shown promise. Jarrod Cooper is okay. Routt is a work in progress. With a defensive front that may still prove to be leaky, we need more than promise. We need consistent execution to shut down the small play before it becomes a big play.

The obsession with speed in our secondary has been tantamount to playing with fire. Derrick Gibson and Phillip Buchanon went up in flames. I’m not terribly impressed with the general notion of speed. You can buy speed by slowing the other guys down with proper angles, disciplined tackling and killer instincts. I don’t recall Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott being track stars. I recall them being vicious.

The Raiders set an NFL record last year for fewest interceptions in a non-strike season. That’s a rather shameful statistic after you’ve loaded up on DBs over the past several drafts. Poor fundamentals plagued our young secondary last year. Things got off to a bad start when Tom Brady sliced them to ribbons in the second half of the season opener, taking advantage of ridiculous cushions. And when Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson broke into the open field last year, both as runners and receivers, it was utter chaos.

So what’s new in our secondary this year? We added Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks. They will add veteran presence and perspective, but it’s doubtful they’ll make a huge difference between the white lines. Darnell Bing was drafted, but he will be converted to OLB. Derrick Gibson was re-signed in what might be construed as an act of desperation.

Oh, and we drafted a guy named Huff. He will make a difference. How big of a difference? The difference between your Glass Half Full and your Glass Half Empty, perhaps?

P.S. Stay tuned for a third installment of Glass Half Empty on Thursday, followed by an unregulated mosh pit of your darkest fears on Friday. For now, let’s focus on the secondary.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Glass Half Empty Week

Am I really an eternal optimist? Let’s just say that if a dog crapped on my birthday cake, there’s a good chance I’d call it frosting.

My sunny outlook, however, can rub some fans the wrong way. For example, I’ve been repeatedly accused of kissing Mr. Davis’s posterior. When I stated that I expect the Raiders to win a minimum of eight games this year, and that the playoffs are not out of the question, one guy wrote to suggest that I’ve been smoking crack (not true, although I did once receive a mysterious package of Kool Aid in the mail with an Alameda postmark).

The Raiders have won 13 games over the past three years. They have a new coaching regime featuring a much-maligned offensive coordinator, a castoff from the Saints at the apparent helm of the QB position, and a desperate reliance on rookies to make a difference on defense, to name just a few things that might make your knees knock.

Personally, I’m not too concerned. I’m confident that the Raiders are righting the ship. But while I may sleep like a baby, I’m not blind, either. Therefore, to sate the pessimists among us, I am briefly letting my optimistic guard down and declaring Glass Half Empty Week here at Raider Take—in which we will indulge any measure of angst, worrying and whining. Let’s get this out of our system now, before the commencement of training camp, and before we truly need to stand united in optimism and enthusiasm as our team takes the field for the start of the 2006 season.

I have selected the running game to start things off. I will highlight two other areas of potential concern on Wednesday and Thursday. Please stick to the topic at hand and tell us why we should—or shouldn’t—be worried about it. On Friday, I will open things up for an unregulated open discussion of our darkest fears. After that, I will pour everyone a tall glass of my Alameda-brewed Kool Aid and we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming.


If you want something to keep you up all night, I’ve got four words for you: LaMont Jordan. Major injury.

Do we have someone who can remotely fill Jordan’s shoes if he goes down? Justin Fargas has proven to be very brittle, resulting in a grand total of 40 carries over the past two years. We recently added Rod “He Hate Me” Smart to our running back roster. Rod, I don’t hate you. I just don’t want to see you pressed into a starting role. I have great affection for Zack Crockett, but he is entering his 12th season, and he hasn’t carried the ball more than 60 times in a season since 1997. He’s an aging situational short-yardage option who should not be counted on to shoulder the running load if Jordan goes down. When Jordan was sidelined for two games last year, Crockett rushed the ball 30 times and averaged less than three yards per carry during that span.

Even if Jordan stays healthy, we could still use more depth, versatility and balance in the backfield, couldn’t we? Let’s compare our situation to the recent past.

In 2002, Charlie Garner rushed for 962 yards at 5.3 yards per carry, and caught 91 passes for 941 yards. In 2005, LaMont Jordan rushed for 1,025 yards at 3.8 yards per carry, and caught 70 passes for 563 yards. Whose stat line looks better to you? Admittedly, Garner was playing for a Super Bowl-bound team that year. He also had Tyrone Wheatley to help mix things up. Wheatley rushed the ball 108 times behind Garner in 2002, and Crockett himself rushed the ball 40 times for eight touchdowns in 2002 behind Garner and Wheatley. That’s a pretty good definition of depth, versatility and balance. Each played a specific defined role, and each was a credible threat in his own right (although Wheatley was on the downside of his career).

There’s a long list of guys behind Jordan, Fargas and Crockett, and we have added Zach Tuiasosopo at fullback, but our core talent in the backfield essentially remains the same as last year. USC’s Lendale White dropped like a rock in the draft, and the Raiders passed on him in the second round. We should know pretty soon whether that was a wise move or not.

The bottom line? Before you go to bed for another sleepless night, you might want to kneel down and pray for LaMont Jordan’s health and safety. Because if we have to rely on He Hate Me in 2006, then We Hate Life.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Raider Take Express

Today marks the launch of the Raider Take Express, a new weekly roundup of adventures and activity around the vast plains of Raider Take. I appreciate all of your emails, tips and feedback. You put the horsepower in the Raider Take Express! Here's what we wrangled up this week:

1. Victor emailed to thank Raider Take for challenging the Raiders Haters, and he had a pretty good take himself: “But you know what, the fact that they hate the Raiders just makes me even more proud to bleed Silver and Black. Hate means jealousy…Not all franchises in the NFL have the tradition, Super Bowls, HOF players, camaraderie between owner, players, and fans as the Raiders do.”

2. Mike of Sports Blogs Daily emailed that he has placed Raider Take on his Ultimate Sports Blogs list. It’s a cool concept, as Mike explained: “I've started a website called Sports Blogs Daily where I compile a list of links to the daily sports news and all of the links are to blogs. No major media outlets allowed. It's similar to Buster Olney's blog on, except I link to passionate, knowledgeable fans like you instead of writers on assignment.” Mike, I'm actually on assigment. I was abducted by aliens last year. They put a chip in my skull, and said: "Go forth and obsess about the Oakland Raiders, compose haiku to smite the Raiders Haters, and worship the man in the white sweatsuit."

3. LK, Frkyraider and I all caught the NFL Network interview with Warren Sapp, who is high on our draft picks, saying that Howard essentially has wings for feet, and that Huff is the real deal. He also said that Shell is setting a tone of authority, fairness and expectation. Click on the “Video Features” sidebar at to check it out.

4. I know that some readers swear by the Football Outsiders, but what's with them ranking the Raiders QB chart 30th in the NFL, five slots behind the fearsome duo of Charlie Frye and Ken Dorsey? The doubting of the Raiders is shifting from the epidemic to the absurd. This time, it really is us against the world.

5. ESPN’s hair was surely on fire in the wake of Raider Greg’s latest Raider Nation Podcast, in which he eviscerated "the worldwide leader in sports" for its latest hate crime against Mr. Davis.

6. Stick’Em “
raised the black flag” in a cool take (known as a "stick" on his turf), which included some kind words about Raider Take. Anyone who frequents these parts is familiar with the creative, insightful commentary of Stick’Em. He recently launched The Raider Way, which promises to continue “poking a sharp-pointed stick in the eye of non-Raiders everywhere.” Check it out!

7. Calico Jack of
Silver and Black Forever announced that he is hitting the high seas with a few barrels of rum until he crashes into the sands of Hawaii. Randy from Raider Nation Podcast is also going on vacation soon. While these guys no doubt sold these excursions as “summer vacations” to their families, we know the truth: they are pre-preseason vacations, timed perfectly to miss nothing important in the NFL.

8. Psycho wrote to tell us about an poll asking who will win the AFC West. While I didn’t see the poll before it closed, Psycho said that the results tracked closely with the NFL preview guides that have all ripped the Raiders. Poor little lemmings, drinking the koolaid of the preview guides and clicking away in favor of the Chiefs and Chargers, about to be blindsided by the autumn wind.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Gear of The Week: Defending The Nation

A few weeks ago, I sent the Raider Take elves down to the workshop. They were denied access to the beer cooler, the Oakland Tribune and Sirius NFL Radio until their work was done. Their mission: to design a shirt that will strike fear into the hearts of Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers fans everywhere, a shirt that shows how we stand united in defending the Raider Nation against the lies and propaganda of the Raiders Haters.

They worked fast, those thirsty little elves, and they worked hard, and they ultimately produced Raider Take’s new DEFENDING THE NATION two-sided Hanes brand quality t-shirt. Those are some badass little elves, let me tell you.

Don't let the Raiders Haters go unchecked. Click here to purchase the new DEFENDING THE NATION t-shirt, which features the Raider Take logo across the front. Thank you for shopping and supporting Raider Take!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Coach Mac on Mighty MAQ

When the Oakland Raiders selected offensive lineman Paul McQuistan of Weber State University in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft, two questions immediately reverberated throughout the Raider Nation: Who? Where?

Since then, we’ve learned a lot more about Paul McQuistan, and even a little bit about Weber State, a Division 1-AA school in Ogden, Utah. Oakland is a long way from Ogden, both geographically and culturally, yet McQuistan seems to have made a smooth transition. Along the way, he has managed to become an improbable cult hero. He inspired a haiku fest here at Raider Take and even earned his own fan club.

But how did McQuistan get here in the first place? What are the qualities that made him a third-round selection? How did Weber State prepare him for the NFL—and does he have what it takes to succeed at the highest level? To answer these questions, Raider Take turned to Ron McBride, head coach of the Weber State Wildcats.

Coach Mac, as he is known around campus, wields nearly 40 years of coaching experie
nce. Prior to joining Weber State, Coach Mac was head coach at the University of Utah for 13 seasons. He led the Utes to six bowl games during his tenure—three more than the school had attended in the preceding 97 years. During his illustrious career, Coach Mac has guided many players to the NFL, including Jamal Anderson, Mike Anderson, Kevin Dyson, Steve Smith and Barry Sims.

Coach Mac is also a cool guy. Without hesitation, he kindly took time out of his camp preparations to tell the Raider Nation more about Paul McQuistan. Following is the transcript of our interview:

What was the first thing you noticed about Paul?

He was in the weight room with his brother the first time I saw him. These two big red-headed kids. They looked good, and they were strong. That's what I first remember. This was a year before I became the head coach, when I was visiting a friend at the university. Then when I took th
e job and I saw them again, I was impressed by their size and leanness.

Were you surprised to see Paul get selected in the third round of the NFL draft?

No. I've coached a lot of guys over the years who were drafted. Barry Sims played for me at Utah. I've had a lot of linemen who've gone on to play in the NFL, and I think Paul is as good as any of those guys.

Has the selection of the McQuistan twins by the Raiders and Cowboys elevated the visibility of your program?

Well, everybody's talking about it. We had two players drafted, the McQuistan brothers, and another who got signed. That's a total of three players who made it to the NFL, which is perhaps the most representation this year from a Division 1-AA school.

What’s your favorite memory of Paul at Weber State?

Well, he's pretty funny. He's a practical joker. He likes to do stuff that's a little out of the ordinary. He has a good sense of humor. I'd be standing around and he'd touch me at some point from behind. I'd see him over there giggling like he didn't do it. I'd say, "When you get to the NFL, you'd better not be touching your head coach and hiding!”

What do you think about the Raiders switching Paul from left tackle (his position at Weber State) to right guard?

They've got a veteran offensive line coach, so I know they're going to put
him in a position that best suits their needs, and where he best fits. If Barry Sims moves to left guard, I could have two former players starting at guard for the Raiders, which would be pretty interesting. They both come from small towns. Barry is from Park City, and Paul is from a small town in Oregon.

How do you think Paul will fare in the NFL?

He'll have a long career. He has a great work ethic, and he's a gym rat. He's aggressive and he's tough. He'll play hurt. The only thing that would shorten his career is a serious injury. He's got all the right qualities.

Did you know that Paul is already a bit of a cult figure in the Raider Nation?

Somebody told me that, and I kind of chuckled when I heard. I thought he hadn't been there long enough to be a cult figure. Maybe it's his hair, maybe he looks like a biker. I'll tell you, he's a great kid, a funny kid and an aggressive football player. He’s got all of the qualities to succeed in the NFL. You need to be a bit off center to play the game at that level. If you've got all your marbles, you’re probably not playing.

Thanks to Coach Mac for a great interview. Keep those linemen coming. Go Raiders and go Wildcats!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Breaking News...You Can't Use

I just received an email from Randy at Raider Nation Podcast with some breaking can't use. Click here and scroll down to the June 30 ESPN audio link titled "Worst NFL Owner," then bear with the nonsense until you get about halfway through the clip. Then brace yourself for an astonishing bit of historical revisionism based on the Sports Illustrated piece that has been roundly debunked in these pages and elsewhere.

Here's an excerpt: "The Raiders are a typewriter in an iPod world...They are so outdated...I'm not anti-Raider...I'm pro-truth...Every NFL guy I've talked to has made the same point...Raider fan thinks the media picks on the Raiders...No they don't...They are never going to, as long as Al is there, win big consistently in the league again...Al Davis is at the very bottom..."

Then our little genius goes on to praise Marty Schottenheimer as a paragon of modern coaching success! Fascinating logic. He also praises Jon Gruden as a paragon of modern coaching success. Who plucked Gruden out of obscurity and gave him the tools to win two straight AFC West titles? Whose team faced Gruden in the Super Bowl after winning a third straight AFC West title? Al...something. Oh, yeah. Al Davis.

If the Raiders are a typwriter in an iPod world, then what does that make the Chargers and Chiefs, to name a few? Horses in a Space Shuttle world?

Why must I keep repeating myself? When the Raiders have won more division titles, won more playoff games, played in and won more AFC Championships, and played in more Super Bowls than all other teams in the AFC West over the last six seasons—then why is it the Raiders who are allegedly living in the past, who are irrelevant, who haven’t done anything lately?

I think we know the answer, and it has nothing to do with objectivity. Attention Raiders Haters: Stop vibrating and gnashing your teeth. Stand still for a second and focus. Time and math are fixed entities. They are facts, not emotions.

P.S. I received an email from Raider de Coachella yesterday, in which he wrote: “I was reading on the Raiders’ web site that Al Davis is going to introduce a Hall of Famer (John Madden) for the 9th time. That is by far the most Hall of Fame introductory speeches anybody has ever given, does that say something about Mr. Davis or what? I always hear of people that are less than elite talking trash about Mr. Davis, why is it that when it comes to very important people (the elite) in the NFL, Mr. Davis is always referred to and praised as a superman?”

Good question! Again, I think we know the answer

Monday, July 10, 2006

In Awe of Shock

In the immediate wake of Raider Take’s praise of Randy Moss for saying the right things at the right time, Randy went a bit off topic the other day. While being interviewed by an Atlanta radio outlet on Thursday, he declared that Atlanta and Baltimore, and not Oakland, were his preferred trade destinations when the Vikings threw him overboard from their Love Boat in early 2005. Excerpts of this Atlanta interview are now being replayed on Sirius NFL Radio and elsewhere, and they are causing some shock and speculation in the Bay Area, as evident in this article.

Are you shocked? I’m not. After all, when Randy was traded to the Raiders, it was common knowledge that the team was not his initial preference,
as noted in the San Francisco Chronicle right after Moss first arrived in Alameda: Moss didn't try to deny the reports that he initially balked at coming to Oakland. Having grown up in West Virginia, he said he didn't want to move to California. His agent “told (Moss) in so many words: Just shut up and listen.” So, Moss changed his mind.

So how can we be shocked by this recent news? We already knew that the Raiders weren't his first choice, but that when he gave the team another look, it was love at second sight. What we didn’t know until now is which teams he initially preferred. Now we know. I’m no cartographer, but I recall that Georgia and Maryland are a lot closer to West Virginia than Oakland, so I’m not surprised he was interested in the Falcons and the Ravens. Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong, West Virginia…Didn’t John Denver sing something like that? Do you think Randy has John Denver on his ipod?

I’m not sure Randy needed to dredge up the past at this point. It’s not great timing, nor is it constructive. I just think that Randy found himself with an audience in Atlanta and saw it as an opportunity to stick it to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who allegedly rejected Moss’s overtures.

Pointless, in my opinion, but ultimately harmless. The most scandalous aspect of this new revelation is that Randy actually wanted Kyle Boller throwing the ball to him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moss Goes Deep

In an earlier take, I summarized an interview with Randy Moss on Sirius NFL Radio and contrasted it with recent remarks by Jerry Porter and Tim Brown. The interview was conducted by Jerry Rice and Adam Schein. In it, Moss demonstrated his support for Coach Shell, acknowledged that the team was in disarray last year, and called on his teammates to get with the new program.

Now, in case you haven’t seen it, the interview has been largely transcribed on Fox Sports. Click here to check it out.

Here’s one quote by Moss that dovetails nicely with my preceding take that the Raiders are going to surprise people this year: “I think we can really see what the Oakland Raiders are going to do this season because I think, personally, that we're better and more mentally sound than last year.”

Bombs away, indeed.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pillaging The Previews

I am a ravenous consumer of NFL preview guides. I love them. I buy every one I can find. It’s an expensive sickness. Do I really need to read five separate breakdowns of all 32 teams? Yes, apparently I do.

It is fashionable to mock these guides as being preposterous in their predictions, given the fact that they are published long before training camps have even commenced, and given the competitive volatility of the NFL from year to year. But I ask: What else are you going to read in June and July? TV Guide? Lonesome Dove? Tour de France recaps? Raider Take’s favorite columnist?

Of course these guides are preposterous! After all, look at what they are saying about the Oakland Raiders. In fact, let’s have a close look at what they are saying about the Oakland Raiders….

I have in my possession the 2006 preview guides by Pro Football Weekly, Athlon Sports, Sporting News and Street & Smith’s, who have all picked the Raiders to finish dead last in the AFC West. The two publications that predict actual records, Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly, put the Raiders down for four and six wins respectively.

Street & Smith’s is especially brutal in their assessment of the Raiders. Here’s what they say: “Shell of a team…It is probably fair to say that Art Shell wanted to return to coaching in the NFL in the worst way. It is probably fair to say that he will…The Raiders last won a Super Bowl in 1984, have been back to one once since then and now may permanently drop anchor at the bottom of the AFC West…The Raiders? Keep those slogans coming, Al. That’s all you’ve got left.”

You can pull a muscle hating like that!

Do you notice that these folks are always prattling about Super Bowls when it comes to the Raiders—owners of three Lombardi trophies and Super Bowl participants after the 2002 season—while rarely mentioning the last time teams like the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Jets, Bills, Browns, etc. have appeared in, let alone won, a Super Bowl? I smell an intellectual rat, don’t you?

Anyhow, I have found similarly dismal projections across the Internet, a virtual plague of groupthink. For example, Gil Brandt ranks the Raiders at 26th in his team rankings on Someone sent me a link the other day to a questionable site that proudly rips the Raiders by ranking them 29th in their team rankings. Why stop there if you hate the Raiders (and reality) so much? Why not rank them 34th out of 32 teams? In the classrooms of the Raiders Haters, that’s called math.

All I can say is that we shall see. Before these preview guides were published, I made my case for a minimum of eight wins for the Raiders, which would exceed every expectation published in these preview guides. Of course, it’s all talk right now. We will start keeping score in September. I can’t wait.

Anyhow, don’t you just love all of this doubt and dissing? I do. I have this vision of NFL groupthinkers sunbathing on a cruise liner, umbrellas in their drinks, smug in their creature comforts. Then suddenly the horizon darkens. There’s a tall ship on the approach. It’s got sails. It’s loaded with rum and gunpowder. It’s coming to change some minds and right some wrongs. It’s the 2006 Oakland Raiders. Bombs away.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Al Davis Birthday Haiku

Like wine, older yet
finer; critics be damned, he
still takes what he wants.

Raider Take wishes a very happy birthday to Hall of Famer and pioneering freethinker Al Davis, the "only person to have served pro football in such varied capacities as a player personnel assistant, an assistant coach, a head coach, a general manager, a league commissioner and the principal owner and chief executive officer of an NFL team." Mr. Davis has also blazed executive trails in both race and gender in pro football. Raider Take loves Al Davis!

Raider Take today also celebrates the independence of this great nation. Thanks to all of the brave souls in our military who are on the front lines, here and abroad, defending our freedoms.

Addendum 7/6: Check out Stick'Em's The Raider Way and Calico Jack's Silver & Black Forever for more celebratory words on Mr. Davis.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Moss on The Boss

Randy Moss is psyched about Art Shell. In an interview that aired on Sirius NFL Radio, Moss acknowledged that some of his teammates complained early on about Coach Shell’s “old school” approach (including keeping them in meetings too long!), but Moss said he welcomed the new emphasis on discipline, and that he’s totally on board with Coach Shell’s work ethic. He chose his words carefully when asked about last year, but admitted that the team was unfocused and even in disarray at times under Norv Turner. He sounded upbeat about Aaron Brooks; he had some kind words for Kerry Collins, but noted that Brooks's mobility will make a distinct difference. He called Daunte Culpepper a close friend, yet didn’t sound too disappointed that Culpepper didn’t come to Oakland. Go figure. I wish I could have saved and transcribed the interview, but I am doing my best here to represent what I heard.

Moss’s embrace of Coach Shell is in stark contrast to what Jerry Porter said recently on ESPN2, and what Tim Brown said the other day: "There are some major leadership issues in Oakland. There are some major focus issues in Oakland. Jerry Porter isn't happy and that's not a good thing heading into camp. There are still a lot of issues on defense."

Thanks, Tim and Jerry, we appreciate the constructive input. Thanks for respecting Art Shell right out of the gates. Thanks for helping us move forward selflessly, with optimism and humility, toward a common goal. Thanks for reminding us that Randy Moss is, ironically enough considering his alleged baggage, Oakland's model citizen at wide receiver.