Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dear Sports Illustrated

Dear Sports Illustrated:

I am shocked—shocked!—that you have not included Raider Take in your online vote for the best Raiders fan site.

Sure, we’ve had our differences. Why, just yesterday, I called you the “mothership of the Raiders Haters.” If I were you, I wouldn’t like me, either.

But please pause to consider the larger journalistic causes of fairness and balance. Surely, as the mothership of the Raiders Haters, you want to expose your readers to some fairness and balance, right?

Raider Take

News You Can't Use: 4 for 1 Edition

UPDATE 4:17 p.m.: Sports Illustrated calls the Raiders the worst team in the NFL.

What better way to kick off Raider Take’s second year than with some News You Can’t Use? And since it’s been a while since my last News You Can't Use, I might as well make up for lost time with a four-for-one edition:

1. For starters, we have this piece, which states the following (thanks for the tip, Horsecollarjack): The storied Raiders of the 1970s and early 1980s went away, replaced by an organization that paid lip service to competing for championships without doing the things that NFL franchises do in the interests of sustaining success. Mercurial team owner Al Davis fired coaches, ran off star players, and drafted kickers in the first round against the advice of those he had hired to assist him with such matters. And though the Raiders made some playoff appearances, and posted winning seasons here and there, they weren't often taken seriously or listed with the elite franchises in the league any longer.

Dude, what happened, did you get abducted by little green men from 2000 through 2002?

This willful amnesia by the Raiders Haters is really getting embarrassing. Call the last three years what you will, but don’t feed us this revisionist nonsense that the Raiders haven’t done anything lately. How many other teams in the NFL have won three straight divisional titles, played in two conference championships and in one Super Bowl in this very decade? A few, yes, but certainly not a lot. Only ten franchises have appeared in the Super Bowl since the beginning of the 2000 season, and the Raiders are one of them. That’s a fact, not an emotion. The sad thing is that this article actually tries to be positive, but the author just can’t help setting up a cheap storyline by manipulating reality.

2. In this column in the Kansas City Star (thanks for the tip, Damon), the author is all jacked up about the Chiefs beating the Rams 16-12 the other day, then proceeds to state: “Art Shell’s Oakland Raiders are 4-0 in the preseason, and some people think this is cause to take the Silver and Black seriously. Fortunately, I’ve watched the Raiders play during the preseason. And they’ve shown me absolutely nothing.”

Of course, the author plays both sides of the fence, telling Chiefs fans not to "overreact" to a "meaningless game." How convenient. In other words, you can't draw too many conclusions about the Chiefs' performance during the preseason, but you sure can about the Raiders. Someone needs to step away from the Kansas City Kool-Aid.

3. In its infinite wisdom, Sports Illustrated picks the Raiders to win only four games this year, yet also has the Chiefs pegged for eight wins and the Chargers pegged for seven wins. Since divisional rivals play each other twice, and since Chiefs and Chargers are allegedly going to lose eight and nine games respectively, how do the Raiders win only four games, especially considering that, in addition to four games against the Chiefs and Chargers, they are also playing the Browns, 49ers, Cardinals, Jets and Texans this year? More to the point, how do the Raiders, with an easier schedule than last year, with the addition through subtraction of Norv Turner and Kerry Collins, and with the obvious improvements installed by Art Shell and the addition of several strong rookie prospects, not improve upon last year’s record? I smell a Raiders Hater at the controls. In fact, Sports Illustrated is becoming the mothership of the Raiders Haters…

4. I understand why the signing of Jeff George is big news in the Raider Nation, but why is the signing of any third or fourth-string QB big news for Sports Illustrated, meriting a negative headline column on the home page of their web site? It gets you wondering. Hmm…Perhaps the author has an axe to grind? In fact, perhaps the author is trying to cover his tracks after stating that “the Raiders need him (Kerry Collins) more than he needs them”—on the very same day that the Raiders signed Aaron Brooks! The same Kerry Collins who couldn’t find work in today’s QB-starved NFL until two days ago.

If you would like some frosting on your cake, then I will add that this is also the same author who declared that Michael Huff is a bad fit for the Raiders.

So here we have it, folks, a rare yet perfect x-ray into the brain of a dedicated Raiders Hater: Kerry Collins is a great fit for the Raiders, Michael Huff is a bad fit for the Raiders, and the signing of Jeff George as a third-string quarterback is front-page news.

Hide the children, this kind of logic should not be attempted at home.

And that, Raiders fans, is a lot of News You Can’t Use.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Very Good Year

Exactly one year ago, Raider Take sent out its first signal to an audience of zero. Today, more than 240 takes later, this little diary has grown into a robust dialogue with some of the best and brightest minds in the Raider Nation, as evidenced in the more than 1,500 (rough estimate) comments registered to date.

As I’ve said before, I am awed by the level of analysis, insight and humor brought to this site by various commentators. You stand in firm rebuke of those who would slander the Raider Nation as a bunch slack-jawed hoodlums. I defy anyone to prove that there is a more informed and passionate fan base in the NFL.

Raider Take would still be a lonely place if not for other Raiders outlets kindly spreading the word. These include, but are not limited to, (shout out to Ally Oop!), Raider Nation Podcast (thanks Greg and Randy!), (and Raiders40 in particular!), Raiders Links,, Inside Bay Area’s Raiders Page, Raider Cast, Silver & Black Illustrated's forum and others (if I have left out anyone, please let me know, it was not intentional). I am also indebted to my fellow bloggers of the Black Flag Network for their inspiring work and feedback.

It’s funny to read that first take of August 29, 2005, written in such a spirit of optimism in advance of a season that would quickly turn tragic. But I’ve got that same feeling of optimism again as we head into the 2006 season. That’s the point of being a fan, isn’t it? I don’t want to be dragged into a new season. I want to charge into it, eager and hopeful.

Personally, I am thrilled that year two of Raider Take begins with round two of Art Shell as head coach. This should be a very good year.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jeff George: Unsolved Mystery

So I step away from the desk for a while, and when I return, I’m met with an explosion of email about…the Raiders signing Jeff George! That’s it, I’m never leaving my desk again, for fear of what I might find when I return.

Some of the emails expressed pure outrage, other mere curiosity. I don’t really have a take at this point, not until I have more information. It’s sort of like stumbling upon a cactus in the North Pole or a cat that recites Shakespeare. You just have to scratch your head until you find out what the hell is going on.

According to one report: “George was signed as an emergency measure in light of backup Andrew Walter experiencing soreness in his right (throwing) shoulder this past week, a person in the front office said.”

Could that be the whole story? A little soreness in Walter’s shoulder, and next thing you know, we pull Jeff George out of the ice chest? Does that sound right to you?

I wonder if this is part of a larger plan that involves Tui (as Doobie noted in an earlier comment). I wonder if Walter’s injury is worse than originally reported, or if his general proneness to injury is causing deep concern. I wonder if the Raiders feel that, if Brooks were to go down, they could capture some of that old George to Moss magic from 1999?

But the answer could be just as stated: George is simply an act of mere caution, an insurance policy, someone to help keep balls flying during practice. If that’s the case, then I’m not worried about having Jeff “The Original KFC” George rattling around the bottom of the depth chart. He’s been doing the same thing on the Bears and Seahawks for the past several years, to no ill effect.

I’ve always kind of liked Jeff George, in a perverse sort of way. The eye black, the grimace, the rocket arm, the slumped shoulders, the passive ability to work the media into an utter froth. He may not be a leader, but he's a great cartoon character.

So I say: Welcome back, Jeff George. You are now the equivalent of a meteorite that has suddenly crashed through the house of the Raider Nation. We’re peering through the hole in the roof, scratching our heads, wondering where you came from. But you’re a Raider once again, so put on that eye black and keep that practice squad warm.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

1. Aaron Brooks! Awful over the first two preseason games, electric ever since. He is firing rockets and flashing brilliant elusiveness. And he finally introduced himself to Mr. Moss, in a big way. If this keeps up, watch out.

2. Kirk Morrison was tonight symbolic of a defense that is playing fast and furious. Sapp was windmilling around, wreaking havoc. Cooper nearly beheaded a guy. Rob “Caveman” Ryan is captaining one mean ship right now.

3. At this rate, Tom Walsh won’t be hearing “bed & breakfast” wisecracks much longer. I think that he has made some keen adjustments since the first two games, which have been augmented by improved play on the line. The first two games were messy, with silent counts and one-dimensional dropbacks in desperate search of the big play. Now we’re getting a better mix of routes, which has actually made the big play more viable.

4. On that note, it’s exciting to see that the tight end position has officially returned from extinction.

5. Sure, the preseason doesn’t count at the end of the year. But I contend that a 4-0 preseason record (and a 5-0 or 4-1 preseason record after next week) is still meaningful. It’s in sync with the winning attitude that Art Shell has instilled, and it’s a basis for momentum and credibility as we head into the regular season.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The First Drive Experiment

Is it possible to orchestrate a unison chant by the Raider Nation during the entirety of San Diego’s first offensive drive on September 11? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to try. Let’s call it the “First Drive Experiment."

I floated the idea in a take earlier this week, and it has been met with considerable enthusiasm. The goal would be to chant the familiar “Raiii-derrrs” war cry to freak out Philip Rivers and the Chargers; to pump up our team; and to serve notice to a national television audience that the Raider Nation is still loud and proud.

I think there are three keys to making it happen:

1. Keep the concept simple by focusing on the first drive. The chant might emerge at other points in the game, as it did against the 49ers on Sunday, but the initial concept needs to be clear and simple in order to get the word out.

2. Spread the word. You can click on the email icon below to quickly send this take to all of your Raider Nation friends. I encourage other Raiders forums and outlets to also run with this idea and help spread the word. It won’t happen unless we can get reach a critical mass of fans.

3. Get the Oakland Raiders organization involved. How can we get the team to flash “Raiii-derrs” on the scoreboard during the Chargers’ first offensive drive? That would really help get the crowd into it. And would the team consider including the idea in one of its regular emails to season ticket holders? If anyone has the right connections, please speak up.

This kind of thing is easier said than done, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could pull it off? Imagine 60,000 fans chanting “Raiii-derrrs” in unison to kick off the season. Let me know what you think, and thanks in advance for spreading the word.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Gear of The Week: 2006 Sideline Tee

It was easy to choose the Raiders 2006 Black Sideline Tee as Gear of The Week. It's just lean and mean, boasting the authentic team font in contrasting silver. It's an appropriate piece of gear for the Art Shell era: no frills, straight talk and a winning attitude. Click here to purchase.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

1. The message of this game is clear: Back away from the panic button. A nice all-around performance. Aaron Brooks finally caught a groove, and showcased his considerable mobility. His interception for a touchback should have been caught by Williams. Andrew Walter was strong again. I like the way he’s checking down his receivers. Huff made a nifty grab and some nice tackles (I hope his ankle’s okay). The offensive line was vastly improved. Sure, it was only the 49ers, but the progress was still significant. The Raiders Haters who have been writing the team's obituary for the past few weeks might want to sharpen their erasers.

2. I surely wasn’t the only one impressed with ReShard Lee’s performance. He turned some fast corners and juked his way through some tight seams. The team lists him at fullback, likely out of convenience. I won’t be surprised if he climbs depth chart. Justin Fargas just looks a bit stiff to me. He runs upright, with questionable elusiveness.

3. Our defensive line is holding its ground, but I’d like to see more pressure on the quarterback. They’re hanging tough in the trenches, but not breaking through with frequency. When we play the Niners again in October, I’d like to see Alex Smith eat some turf.

4. Upcoming bestseller: The Janikowski Diet: The Polish Secret to Slimming Down and Booting Touchbacks. Dude’s on fire. He has clearly rededicated himself to fitness and focus. For added motivation, there’s also a kid behind him splitting the uprights at 45 yards. Whatever the reason, it’s great to see Janikowski relocating his potential.

5. I loved the Raider Nation chanting “Rai-derrrs, Rai-derrrs”—a familiar turnstile pregame war cry at the Coliseum—during the gameplay. Do you think there’s any way we could coordinate this for the entirety of Philip Rivers’ first drive in Oakland on September 11 on national television? What better way to freak the kid out and pump our defense up? It would also serve notice to the national television audience: the Raider Nation remains a force like no other. What do you think?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Raider Take Express for 8/19

Here is the latest edition of the Raider Take Express, our weekly roundup of input and observations around the turf of Raider Take. Please keep sending your ideas, tips and feedback to

1. Raider Take's favorite columist is already in mid-season form. In this column comparing the fortunes of Aaron Brooks and Alex Smith, we find the following sentence (in the loosest definition of the word), which you should try reading aloud to enjoy the full effect: "Put another way, Brooks is going into Sunday's game having convinced none of the Raider faithful that he's the guy for this thankless job, while Smith has already morphed into Tommy, the deaf dumb and blind pinball wizard from The Who rock opera of the same name who is suddenly cured of his afflictions and turned into a national phenomenon."

Need some clarification? Okay, here's the next sentence: "You know, sort of like Paris Hilton before she first spoke." Thanks, that clears things up.

This guy's editors need to stage an intervention before it's too late.

2. Doobie, who knows an awful blog when he sees one, reported this desperate attempt to trash the Raiders (click on the "Shell not going to panic" link in box at upper right): "We are now avoiding all Raiders and preparing to watch one of the greatest disasters in NFL history. If all of the reports out of Oaktown are valid, the Raiders may well be the worst team in the entire league this season, and one of the worst in the entire modern era."

One of the worst teams in the entire modern era? Hey, chump, get control of yourself. You can get whiplash hating like that.

3. Raiders fans aren't the only ones feeling edgy these days. Here's what a Chiefs blogger has to say about his team in the wake of the second preseason game: "I had a chance to see, up close and personal, the disaster that was the Chiefs. No exaggeration here. It was a disaster...We cannot simply say, 'Oh, it’s just the preseason.' Not with this team. Not with a team that, for the first time in years, may struggle to find an identity on offense, and has not had any kind of good identity on defense."

Music to my ears.

4. Jesse wrote with a link to this story in an online gambling journal, which gives the Raiders some credit. Jesse notes that "the one thing about oddsmakers is that they don't seem to care what ESPN has to say." He adds: "I don't know if I agree with the guy's overall assessments, but he sure doesn't sound like one of the talking heads."

Exactly, because hate and bias don't win jack. You actually have to use your noggin when your money's on the line. I wonder if our aforementioned friend would like to wager on the 2006 Raiders being one of the worst teams in the modern era?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Don't Feed The Sharks

The Randy Moss watch is on. The media detect blood in the water. They're circling, nibbling, ready to take a big bite. After feasting on a steady diet of T.O. for the past 12 months, they're hungry for dessert.

Consider this headline that I (and many of you) received via email from "Brooks and Moss - Can This Work?" The email goes on to say: "After being pulled from the game in the second quarter, Moss stormed off the field and threw his helmet in disgust, stewing on the bench for the rest of the game."

Below that, there's a link to "more team news," which connects you to the newsroom! I'm sure the team's front office is thinking, "Thanks for the referral, NFL!"

Or consider this piece from the Associated Press, which begins: "Randy Moss is complaining, the offense is stagnating and Aaron Brooks has been unable to move the ball."

Or consider
this column from ESPN, which was published BHC (before helmet chucking). I almost selected this piece as News You Can't Use, but it was too convoluted to pin down. Let just say that you know you're in trouble when your article on Randy Moss goes off the rails with Barry Bonds comparisons in the second paragraph. I dare you to read this guy's column aloud in your local town square. You will most certainly be mistaken for a raving lunatic. But I digress...

Let me say this: Just because Randy Moss isn't mooning cheeseheads or running over meter maids these days doesn't mean he's above reproach. I don't doubt his competitive drive. But chucking your helmet during the second preseason game, in rebellion of a decision made by Art Shell, is not constructive.

Randy Moss may be a model citizen these days, but he's still a bit of a diva. I know I'll take some heat for that statement, but so be it. Trust me, I love Randy Moss. I just don't need him giving us more reasons to push the panic button right now.

Remember the final game against the Giants last year, when Randy was visibly (and rightfully) freaking out about the playcalling during the final drive? Fine, it was the end of a long and dreadful ride under Norv Turner, and we were all being fitted for straightjackets at that point. But pouting angrily throughout our second preseason game under Art Shell?

That makes for sideline antics in two out of our last three games, dating back to last year. Not a good trend.

I'm a bit torn on this matter. On the one hand, I admire Randy for having the competitive zeal to even care about a preseason game, as opposed to, say, riding an exercise bicycle in Oxnard for two weeks.

On the other hand, the Raiders are teetering between disaster and revival, and I'd like to see our star talent have a little more faith and a little more self control as Art Shell takes the necessary steps, and the necessary time, to avert disaster and ensure revival.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free Raider Nation Celebration Tickets

JD wrote with a generous offer to readers of Raider Take: two pairs of free tickets to the upcoming Raider Nation Celebration on August 27. The tickets will be awarded to the first two people (one pair per person) to email me at Please include your name and mailing address. The value of the tickets is $10 per pair.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

1. Our offensive tackles are about as stout as a pair of saloon doors right now. So Aaron Brooks goes into one of Tom Walsh’s seven-step drops, and before he’s set his feet, he’s being blown backward. Thankfully, Brooks has legs to go with his feet. If this were Collins, we’d be looking at sacks for losses of 20 yards. Walker and Gallery need to step up, and soon.

2. Boy, Andrew Walter sure throws a nice interception. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. That second interception was a beauty, at least while it was in flight. So was his touchdown bomb to Morant, of course. It’s not just the arm strength, it’s the flight of the ball. It just looks tight and focused and lethal. I’m not worried about the interceptions at this point. He’ll learn to make better decisions (especially after getting the evil eye from Art Shell). Last week, Walter looked jumpy and nervous. Tonight, he was setting his feet and firing rockets. Measurable progress in one week is a very good sign.

3. Unsolved mystery: stupid penalties. But I’m glad we have Sherlock Shell on the case. Last year, stupid penalties were met with impotent grimaces by Norv Turner, as if it were a matter tottally out of his control, like bad luck and taxes. This year, we’ve got a coach who’s taking notes and taking names, and doling out evil eyes that promise actual consequences. Therefore, I’m not going to panic yet about all of the yellow flags. I think we’ll clean up our act as time goes on. Art Shell will make sure of that.

4. After listening to the incessant drone of the Raiders Haters in the mainstream media for the past several months, it was refreshing to hear Joe Theismann treat the team with respect, objectivity and even optimism throughout the gamecast. Kudos to Theismann for being an analytical adult when talking about the Oakland Raiders.

5. I won’t lie, the first team offense has me a bit worried, and judging by the look on Randy Moss’s face, I’m not the only one. But it’s only August 14. I like how Fabian Washington is playing. Chris Carr and Sebastian Janikowski are on fire, and our linebackers are rising to the occasion, especially with Howard being a rookie and Williams shaking off injury rust. Our defensive line is inconsistent right now, but will likely prove to be strong enough. Most of all, I like the fact that this is a team with a purpose, guided by the vision of a coach who clearly means business. Merit is back in vogue, and that’s going to light some fires. Our guys looked excited and motivated after big plays, celebrating together with vigor. Sapp is on the sideline in the last minute of the second preseason game, shouting encouragement and instruction. All positive signs.

Gear of The Week: America's Game

My selection for Gear of The Week is nothing less than essential reading for any fan of the National Football League. America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation is not only a sprawling 450-page history of the game and the league, but also a rip-roaring yarn spun by a brilliant author, Michael MacCambridge.

Consider this excerpt from the very first paragraph, describing the benchmark 1958 Giants v. Colts overtime championship game: “As the sun went down over Yankee Stadium, a series of thunderclap roars filled the sky, and the crowd surged forward, raucous and intent. The arc lights shone down on the field…shimmering off the dark blue helmets of the New York Giants, and bathing the white uniforms of the Baltimore Colts in an ethereal glow.”

Are you hooked yet? I was. Beginning with the formative wartime years of the National Football League, through the NFL – AFL merger and up to the modern era, this book charts the ascent of pro football to the throne of American sports. Of this book, Sports Illustrated said: “Amazing…MacCambridge is a master storyteller.” I have to agree.

At the core of the book is a profound respect for the game, for those who built it and those who follow it. Writes MacCambridge: “Like the best of the arts, pro football worked on multiple levels…For those with a deeper interest, the game could exist on a larger canvas---as a morality play; a cultural metaphor; a crucible of values in which teamwork, sacrifice and dedication were rewarded, while selfishness, cowardice and sloth were harshly punished. What those who were contemptuous of sports misunderstood was not merely that a middle-class sports fan might revere football to the same degree that an inveterate theatergoer revered Shakespeare, but that he might do so for many of the same reasons.”

Take that, culture snobs! As you can imagine, Al Davis makes many appearances in this book. I could say more, but I won’t spoil it for you.

The bottom line is that if you love reading about football, and you don’t have this book, I recommend that you put it at the top of your list as we head into the 2006 season.

Click here to buy America's Game new at Amazon for just $9.75.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Raider Take Express for 8/12

Here is the latest edition of the Raider Take Express, our weekly roundup of input and observations around the turf of Raider Take. Please keep sending your ideas, tips and feedback to If this is a wildfire, then you are the spark.

1. I would like to see more from our first team offensive line on Monday against the Vikings, and I would like to see less of LaMont Jordan. Last week’s performance by the offensive line was somewhat understandable. You’re just a few weeks into training camp, you’ve got guys moving into a new positions, and you’ve got a rookie, Paul McQuistan, learning the NFL ropes. That’s fine, but progress must be swift and certain on the offensive line. Otherwise, our running backs will be grounded when it counts, and our quarterback will be on the run, and it will get ugly. Speaking of running backs, Justin Fargas needs some serious work, and LaMont Jordan needs to stay healthy. It’s Jordan or bust this year, so why take chances during the preseason? In Denver, they’ve got three serious contenders for the top slot at running back. Here, it’s Jordan, followed by a big cliff. Let’s keep the guy fresh and healthy.

2. I heard on the radio that the Raiders v. Eagles preseason game received a 7.0 television rating last Sunday, the same as the first two games of the NBA finals! The NHL Stanley Cup finals received a 2.3 rating by comparison. Check out
this article, which explains this phenomenon in depth. The bottom line is that we are witnessing the zenith of the NFL. Where can it go from here? More than 62,000 fans attended a recent intrasquad Packers scrimmage. According to Sports Illustrated, “Steelers fans gave linebacker Clark Haggans an ovation when he exited a port-a-potty at training camp.” Hey, Steelers fan, you just won the Lombardi trophy, so chill out and back away from the portable toilets.

3. Coach Shell is proving to be as quotable as Norv Turner was unquotable. For example, here’s what
Shell had to say about Fabian Washington taking more chances in pursuit of interceptions: “Cornerbacks are out there on an island so they have to be daring. They can't be afraid. We always said a scared man can't win. So yeah, he can gamble as long as he's right.”

You can gamble—as long as you’re right! Love it. That’s what I call a winning attitude.

3. A couple of notable Raiders events are forthcoming. The 2007 Raiderette Swimsuit Calendar Release Party will be open to the public in an exclusive event at
Willie Mays Sky Box Lounge on Wednesday, August 23. Tickets are $35 and only 250 tickets are available.

Raider Nation Celebration unfolds on Sunday, August 27 at the Coliseum between noon and 4:00 p.m. Features of the day include: Interactive Kids Zones, autograph and photo opportunities with Raiderettes and Raiders legends, a "Hall of Fame" area featuring the Super Bowl trophies, live interviews with current players, and more.

4. As part of our season ticket package, Raider Take and Cousin of Raider Take received tickets to the Raider Nation Celebration. However, we won’t be attending this year, so we are offering our Raider Nation Celebration tickets free (a $10 total value) to the first person who requests them at

Update: 7:50 a.m.: Sorry, the Raider Nation Celebration tickets have been accounted for...Congratulations Vincent!

5. Brian S. wrote to point out this column in Sports Illustrated, which rips Aaron Brooks, noting his failure against the Eagles' second team defense, yet failing to mention his touchdown pass against this same defense. That's a bit selective, don't you think? Remember, sometimes, the Raiders Haters are as obvious as thunder and lightning. Other times, however, they are like a fine mist, almost imperceptible until you notice that your jacket is soaking wet. At least the guy gives Mr. Davis props for looking and sounding sharp at the Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Introducing Black Flag Network

Raider Take is excited to announce the launch of Black Flag Network in unison with Silver and Black Forever and The Raider Way.

Black Flag Network is a small band of marauding commentators dedicated to offering fresh and original content pertaining to the Oakland Raiders experience.

The goal of Black Flag Network is to grow reciprocal dialogue between network members and their fellow Raiders fanatics, under the belief that our collective synergy will surpass what we as individuals could achieve alone. While each member remains an independent entity, we are united in spirit, vision and outlook.

Black Flag Network embraces other Raiders-related forums and seeks a positive rapport with the entire Raider Nation. At its core, Black Flag Network is simply an extension of friends coming together in recognition of their common passion for the game, and in celebration of the greatest team and fans in the world.

Raise the Black Flag!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Join The Long Bombs League

UPDATE 9:35 a.m.: The Long Bombs League is now full. If someone drops out, I will open their slot back up here at Raider Take. If you are still interested in joining a fantasy football league with other fellow Raiders fans, please feel free to use the comments section (see link to "comments" at the end of this take) to put the word out. For example, someone could start their own league and announce it in the comments section along with their contact information.

I am excited to announce the 1st Annual Raider Take Fantasy Football Long Bombs League, which is open to the first nine people who contact me at with a request to join the league. This will not be a regular feature here at Raider Take, and I will not bore the rest of you with ongoing updates. I’m just looking for a few good men and women who want to join a competitive fantasy football league.

Here are the details and requirements:

The league is hosted by There is no cost to join. All you need is a high-speed internet connection. Fantasy football experience is not necessary, but a will to win is required, which includes active participation throughout the season. The draft is live at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, August 28. It is imperative that you be free at that time to participate in the live draft, which will last for an hour or so. At the end of the season, the champion will be awarded with a Raider Take t-shirt of their choice, as well as unlimited smack-talk rights. If I seize the crown (doubtful, since I’m relatively new to fantasy football) the shirt goes to the runner up.

You can join the league by being one of the first nine people to email me at with a request to join. I will follow up with an invitation via email, which will include the league password and a link to officially join the league. Upon receiving the password, you will have 24 hours to join the league. If you don’t officially join within those 24 hours, I will have to open your slot to the next person in line. Once the league is complete, I will follow up with a league welcome email, which will include some basic instruction for those who might be newcomers to fantasy football.

As stated, I am relatively new to fantasy football. To be honest, I was quite skeptical of the whole phenomenon until recently. The word “fantasy” is particularly dorky. However, after trying it, I’ve found it to be quite entertaining and insightful. It plugs you right into the volatility of the NFL, and it gives you an extra rooting interest in games that might otherwise lack intrigue. Plus, it makes for great camaraderie among the participants.

So get in your three-point stance and join the Raider Take Long Bombs League!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

1. To maintain your sanity, repeat after me: It’s only August 6. Our first team looked a bit disjointed, McNabb and company looked sharp. I wish it was the other way around, but it’s only August 6. We might want to resume training camp with some basic tackling drills. Nice interception and runback, nice rocket of a TD by Brooks.

2. Rob “Caveman” Ryan looks like he’s been eating raw meat and sleeping on sharp sticks for the past six months. That’s a good sign. I’m ready to put a helmet on him. I’ll be he could tackle.

3. I think we got a window into Art Shell’s commitment to the run tonight. Unlike Norv Turner, he won’t waffle at the first sign of ground trouble. That said, can we minimize LaMont Jordan’s carries in August? The risk of injury to Jordan freaks me out. Fargas just seems to lack instinct and cutting ability. He Hate Me is cool, but he sure can’t carry this team.

4. I’ll resist the urge to make snap judgments on the QB position at this point. Brooks will find his groove. Walter wasn’t lacking time in the pocket, but he still seemed jumpy and uncertain. Preseason will be good for him.

5. John Madden has seen, accomplished and experienced a hell of a lot in his larger-than-life life. So it was quite something to hear him describe his Hall of Fame weekend with such pure wonderment and irrepressible joy during the broadcast. Good for him.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Raider Take Express for 8/5

Here is the latest edition of the Raider Take Express, our weekly roundup of input and adventures around the turf of Raider Take. Please keep sending your ideas, tips and feedback to You light the fuse on the long bombs from Quaketown!

1. Damon wrote to report that the 2006 Pro Football Prospectus trashes the Raiders: He (the writer) says that Al decided to take the team backward. He refers to Mike Lombardi as Al Davis' “Smithers” and talks about how Davis dragged “old Raiders like Jack Tatum out of mothballs to recite all the tired lines about restoring ‘toughness’ and ‘pride.’”

Damon also adds that this team overview, written by a guy from, makes no mention of our draft picks. Very convenient, indeed, that he chooses not to mention guys like Huff and McQuistan. Surely, their main Saints preview makes no mention of Reggie Bush, right?

2. In related news, The Analyzer alerted us to this QB ranking feature on, which ranks the Raiders 30th at the position. That's a little gratuitous, don't you think? Five slots behind the Browns? Six slots behind the Lions? Guess what, the author of this ranking is the editor of the aforementioned 2006 Pro Football Prospectus and a big cheese at I know a lot of folks love these guys, but they sure don't have any faith in the Raiders to perform at any level beyond atrocious this year. We shall see.

3. Jim H. wrote to reveal the absurdity of
this article, which takes Al Davis to task for believing in the concept of domination. Since when is the concept of domination outmoded in football? Teams should no longer strive to dominate?

Indeed, in modern football, teams should strive to win without domination. Come to think of it, winning might be overrated, too. Everybody’s a winner, right? Domination? Well, that’s just scary and impractical, and bad for the children, too.

4. The Freaking Pope wrote to point out this article, which features some insightful quotes from Tom Walsh. A lot has been said and written about this man over the past several months. Now, he is speaking for himself, in his first public interview, and it’s essential reading as we barrel toward September.

5. In addition to authoring a
nifty breakdown of the new Raiders depth chart on his Raider Way site, Stick’Em visited Raider Take and posted this link to a 1986 Los Angeles Raiders music video that had me washing my eyes out with Comet. It’s quite classic, in a shameful eighties Tinseltown kind of way. The team was coming off of a 12-4 season. In the wake of the video, they went 8-8, then 5-10. I doubt it’s a coincidence.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Buckle Up, Raider Nation

The knock on the Raiders has long been that they are living in the past, that they are outmoded, and that Al Davis has lost his touch. The groupthink prescription for this alleged affliction (which mysteriously abated from 2000 through 2002, a fact that has been expunged from the history books of the Raiders Haters) is that the Raiders must get with the times, that they must change how they operate, and that Al Davis should be confined to a luxury box.

So what did the Raiders do in the wake of their third straight losing season? Did they yield to public opinion? Did they eat groupthink crow? Nope. They made absolutely no concessions and even intensified the very things that earn them scorn.

Consider Art Shell’s reply when asked to sum up the Tom Walsh system: “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.”

If that’s not retro enough for you, then consider Walsh’s description of the 2006 Raiders offense: “Basically, we’re running the Raider offense the way it’s been run when you go back to the 60s, 70s and the 80s. Whether it was a Raymond Chester, or Dave Casper or Todd Christensen, or Ethan Horton or Mike Dyal or Bob Moore, you can go back as far as you want in the annals. That’s just the same offense, really.”

So much for getting with “the times,” changing how the team operates and confining Al Davis to a luxury box, eh?

Apparently, none of the coaches got a memo telling them to sanitize their thoughts when speaking to the media, to tone down this retro stuff or pretend that Mr. Davis’s influence doesn’t run deep. No one is hiding behind anything, public opinion be damned. They’ve laid it out: Long bombs, no apologies. How many teams, or companies, have the stones in this day and age to draw such a line in the public relations sand? Very few.

Personally, I find immense rooting interest in this development. It’s time to forget about the “what ifs” and “should haves” of the offseason. It’s officially the old school of Al Davis, Art Shell and Tom Walsh—or bust. Yes, if they fail, the recrimination will be exponential. But if they succeed…Just think about it. If they succeed, the Raiders Haters will be completely undressed. There will be no more intellectual gymnastics about how the notoriously meddlesome Al Davis somehow took a vacation during Jon Gruden’s tenure, and how Gruden somehow took the Raiders to the Super Bowl despite being on the opposite sideline during the Super Bowl. There will be no opportunities to assign the team’s success to groupthink remedies. There will be nothing but slack jaws and silence from the Raiders Haters.

How can you not root for that? This isn’t just another season, another coaching regime. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, not just for Mr. Davis and Coach Shell, but for all of us. The stakes are high, and the adrenaline will flow accordingly. There is a hell of a lot to lose—and a hell of a lot to prove. Buckle up, Raider Nation. This is going to be one fun and wild ride.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Congratulations, Denver!

The Denver Broncos are the only team in the NFL, MLB and NBA whose current uniform has been elected to the Ugliest Ducklings list by readers of Uni Watch on That's quite an accomplishment, but also fitting for a team whose coach was separated at birth from Charles Manson, and whose quarterback impersonates Sasquatch.

P.S. If you haven't read Uni Watch, check it out. It's one of the few ESPN features that won't make you want to swallow rat poison, probably because it's not a homegrown product, but rather the brainchild of one Paul Lukas, who has turned his obsession with sports uniforms into a rather entertaining sport unto itself.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A View from The Dark Side

Murphy’s Law is alive and well here at Raider Take. I go out of my way to play pessimist with my recent Glass Half Empty Week, and suddenly the true pessimists go mute. Then, as soon I return to regularly scheduled optimism, they're back baring their fangs again.

For example, on Sunday I noticed that my happy take of last Friday had recorded a new comment from a true disbeliever. Thus ensued a brief cosmic tangle between the forces of optimism and pessimism. In the end, we agreed to disagree, and made an appointment to serve each other crow come late December. Along the way, my gloomy foe forcefully stated his case, which I reprint here as a rather eloquent view from the dark side, just in case you missed it:

"Anyone been following camp stories? The offense has looked abysmal. It's not the players fault, it's the antiquated 70's system. It simply doesn't work anymore. You need the best running back in the league to make it work. It relys on brute strength, no gimmicks. That's fine if you have Don Mosebar, Wisniewski and Bo Jackson. Not so good with Langston Walker, Sims and Jordon. If Jordan goes down, the season could end worse than last year, no matter how pumped all us silver and blackers get.

It's about the time every year when all we Raider fans get in a fevered, psyched pitch, but I ain't buying it. Walsh sux and Al's system looks like bell bottoms and a big Elvis belt buckle at a formal dinner. Just doesn't work anymore. I wish it did. If it does work this year it'll be because Brooks is improvising his way through the archaic script. I hopes he does.

Fargas as the back up RB, and everyone starting to throw the rah-rah, half-full treatment around that is making me absolutely sick. He ain't worth doo doo and will not do squat. PLEASE, GOD TRADE PORTER FOR A RB!!!!! The defense might not be half bad if the offense could manage a few scores and a 1st down here and there, but that's looking bleak while running a circa '73 offense. I just can't believe we brought Tom Walsh in. Can't believe it. I have read multiple accounts from Tim Brown, to Jeff Hostetler, to several sporting mags that have said ad nauseum that this system doesn't work. Maybe it doesn't fellows. I mean could all these people have really been poor coaches, players etc: Shroeder, Beurlein, George, Marinovich, Hoss, Collins, Callahan, White, Turner, Bugel...

Maybe it's the "AL" system guys! Gruden ignored it and our talent was able to beat 98% of the league. Since he left it's back to bunker city and Al's 1976 approach. Depressing."

Now that’s a glass half empty!