Friday, September 29, 2006

A Time for Answers

You know things are bad when the big news of week three is that your team is still learning how to get to the line and snap the ball before the game clock expires.

Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune said it better than I could: “The first two games, it was almost incomprehensible that an NFL team, trailing by double digits late in the game, was continually snapping the ball as the clock was winding to zero. It was almost as if they had a lead and were executing a four-minute drill to work the clock.”

Incomprehensible, indeed. A tad disgraceful, too, I might add.

You all know me. If a dog crapped on my birthday cake, there’s a good chance I’d call it frosting. My pajamas are made of silver (and black) lining. I am committed to optimism as well as excellence.

Alas, however, I must eventually contend with the irritating matter of reality, and the fact is that the Raiders have, offensively speaking (in more ways than one), put my optimism on a starvation diet so far this season. There’s been a lot of talk in the locker room this week, just as there was after the Chargers game, about being tougher and playing better. I’m glad we’re saying the right things. Now it’s time to do the right things. Talk is talk. Facts are nourishment.

So let’s return to the reality at hand, and this incomprehensible bit of business about still learning how to get to the line in time, and the related concept of coaching. There’s been a lot of discussion about our playcalling and our execution, and where one begins and the other ends. But something that has been overlooked in this discussion is this concept of coaching. Not coaching in the playcalling sense of the word, but in the teaching sense of the word. You can say all you want about professionals being expected to execute like professionals. But at the end of the day, the players are students and the coaches are teachers. Otherwise, why have position coaches in the first place?

Until this year, our
quarterbacks coach had no NFL experience, and limited experience as a quarterbacks coach. Now he is charged with preparing Andrew Walter for the complex rigors of the NFL. Is he the guy for the job? How is it that our veteran offensive line seems to have gotten worse under the tutelage of Jackie Slater and Irv Eatman? These two guys are line legends, yes. But are they great teachers? Our offensive coordinator is so rusty that he’s having trouble getting the plays called and our players up to the line in time. Is it fair to assume that his overall teaching skills are similarly rusty?

Far be it from me to call out our position coaches. I really don’t know the first thing about their teaching abilities on the practice field. All I’m saying is that it’s a topic that merits watching as the season progresses. If our execution and fundamentals improve, then it’s a moot point. Indeed, I hope that this is the last time I have to entertain these questions. I should add that I have little concern about Art Shell has a head coach and a team leader. But even the greatest CEO needs a strong management team to succeed.

I am holding good thoughts for this Sunday. We simply cannot lose to the Browns at home. I expect our collective angst be cleansed by the refreshing waters of victory. It’s time to put these ugly questions to rest. It's time for answers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gear of The Week: Pirate Logo Cap

What’s a Raiders fan to do during these tough losing times? Buy and wear more Raiders gear, of course. That’s what we do. We stand tall and we remain proud. We strut loyally through the hail of heckling and jeering, attired in silver and black. We do not hide from the haters.

After the Chargers blowout, I purchased the Raiders Pirate Logo Cap from The Raider Image. This Reebok-made hat is exclusive to The Raider Image. I really dig it, so I am selecting it as my Gear of The Week. It’s a sleek flexfit universal hat with brilliant embroidering that nails every detail. The back base of the hat features the word RAIDERS embroidered in the authentic team font. If you buy this hat, trust me, you’ll love it. It's one badass lid. Click here to purchase.

I just read this article, which says that the 49ers are the most popular team in the western United States. That’s funny, because I live outside the Bay Area, in a town that is equidistant from San Francisco and Oakland. When I drive and walk around my town, I see Raiders decals, hats and apparel all over the place. I rarely see 49ers gear. I walk into Kohls, and the racks with the Raiders gear are decimated while the 49ers gear collects dust.

So while the 49ers might have more people who claim to be fans of the team in the western United States, many of these “fans” are apparently in the football witness protection program, waiting for the Niners to make the playoffs before pulling their red-and-gold sweatshirts out of the rag drawer.

But in the Raider Nation, dust never settles on our silver and black.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bye Week Haiku

Chicken missing key
spices: Doug, Jerry…May want
to serve the Browns steak.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Raider Take Express for 9/23

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. Trevor S. wrote to inform me of the following excerpt from a column by Bill Simmons on ESPN: Matt S. in Santa Barbara writes, "This weekend I was hanging out with two of my buddies, one of whom is a hardcore Raiders fan, when we came up with one of our best ideas in a while. When Al Davis finally dies we're going to throw a party where we celebrate his death by wearing jumpsuits and gold eyeglass chains." See, these are the things we would be showing if they ever put me in charge of ESPN6: live footage of the "Al Davis is dead" party in Santa Barbara.

I think it’s shameful to speak joyously of someone’s death in a major media outlet. No, I’m not being a prude. The email itself was sort of funny. But then the columnist takes it a step further, from questionable humor to sheer malice. How dare this cockroach dance on the future grave of a Hall of Famer!

Not surprisingly, this is the same columnist (and network) who recently devoted an
entire column to emails trashing Art Shell, on the heels of another column trashing Art Shell. This dude is obsessed with the Raiders, and ESPN has given him free rein to rant like an intellectual infant.

I’d now like to hear from those folks who think I exaggerate the influence of the Raiders Haters in the mainstream sports media.

2. Speaking of which, many in the media are positively gleeful over the Raiders’ recent losses. Worst team in the NFL! One of the worst teams in history! Won’t win a game in 2006! Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd of ESPN are at the forefront of this shrillfest.

It’s funny that the Raiders are now one of the worst teams in history while the Buccaneers are just…well, you know, they’ve got Jon Gruden, and he’s the anti-Al Davis, so there’s just no comparison, right?

Let’s compare, shall we: Both teams are 0-2. Oakland has scored six points this year, while Tampa Bay has scored three points. Oakland has the 32nd ranked offense (yards per game), while the Tampa Bay offense is ranked 28th. Oakland has the 10th ranked defense (yards per game) while the Tampa Bay defense is ranked 22nd. Oakland has played the 1st and 2nd ranked defenses (admittedly, the Raiders helped them earn those rankings), while Buccaneers have played the 1st and 11th ranked defenses.

Jon Gruden has been at the helm of his team, and his system, for years. Art Shell is just getting started in Oakland.

But it’s the Raiders who are the worst team in NFL history, and it’s Jon Gruden whom the Raiders should have never let go, and who gets a pass right now. Got it?

3. With regard to the Raiders’ offense, there’s been much discussion in the Raider Nation about where the playcalling ends and the poor execution begins. In other words, the playcalling has been questionable, yet you can’t blame the playcalling for dropped snaps, dropped passes, hesitant running and lack of effort (see Randy Moss impersonating a statue while Ray Lewis bobbles an interception, falls to the ground, then gets back up and runs 25 yards).

Amid this discussion has emerged a novel theory—that regardless of whether or not Tom Walsh has the chops to make adjustments, the Raiders offensive unit is simply not capable of implementing anything more complex than downhill running and deep routes. In other words, our playcalling isn't a problem, even if it sucks, because our guys can’t handle anything more than the plays that are being called.

This theory holds that sideline swings to our running back, play action passes, short drops,
quick outs, slants, rollouts, shotgun formations and even gadget plays are too complicated for our guys, including veterans such as Brooks, Jordan, Crockett, Moss, Sims, Gallery, Grove, Walker, Anderson, Whitted, Curry and, yes, Porter.

So I ask: When did our offensive unit suddenly turn into the football equivalent of kindergarteners?

4. I received a cool pep talk from Damon B. after the Ravens game. Here’s an excerpt:
We lost again today, but I feel a lot better than Monday night. The defense showed tremendous heart, and it showed when the offense turned over the ball early in the game but the defense held the Ravens to field goals. That last touchdown was on the offense, the defense was worn-out tired by that time…. I think folks can shut up about us being the worst team in the league. Tampa Bay is 0-2 and scored only 3 points with Jon Gruden at the helm. I do believe they were a playoff team last year, yet they aren't catching nearly as much flak as we are. The Chiefs stink too, and they've got L.J. However, I'm not going to hold my breath for a kind word from Peter King. I'm not giving up yet. Hang in there, I truly believe the Raiders will get better this year.

Thanks, Damon, I needed that.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

No More Chicken-You-Know-What

A few months ago, as Raider Nation Podcast recently reminded me, Tom Walsh made the following comments when asked about his pending introduction to the latest defensive schemes: “There's a couple few wrinkles that change…It's like serving chicken. I mean one day it's fried, one day it's grilled, and the next day it's chicken marsala. And the next day it's something else. But it's still chicken. They still got 11 guys out there.”

Now, those of you who hang around these parts know that I’m an eternal optimist. Nevertheless, I’m not going to pretend that chicken-you-know-what is chicken marsala. And what we’ve seen on offense over the past two games is nothing but chicken-you-know-what.

For example, we haven’t completed a single pass to a running back so far this season. LaMont Jordan caught 70 passes last year, or an average of 4.4 passes per game over a 16-game season (and Jordan missed a few games last year, so he actually averaged a full five receptions per games played). He is an established threat as a receiver. A threat that has been oddly ignored so far this year.

Since passes to a running back are typically short dumps and sideline swings, they should be considered an antidote to the Raiders’ core offensive problem: the inability to protect our QB as longer plays develop. I’m not saying that passes to our running back are the lone cure for our ills. But they should surely be in our medicine bag, right?

I see this statistical curiosity as emblematic of a larger issue, in which our reality doesn’t mesh with our philosophy. In order to impose the philosophical simplicity of downhill running and deep routes, you need a few crucial ingredients. You need linemen who can protect. You need a quarterback with mature instincts. You need a running back who can blast through holes without hesitation. You need a collective and unyielding toughness across the board. Unfortunately, we’re a little short on these ingredients right now.

So how about getting our running back more involved in the passing game? How about some shotgun formations? How about a trick play or two? How about hurrying to the line to advance the tempo? How about some play action passes or rollouts? How about not doing seven-step drops in our own endzone? It’s not like the results can get any worse. If Tom Walsh is our chef, the question is: does he have the chops to devise some new recipes? Let’s hope so.

Chicken may be still be chicken, but, in retrospect, Walsh’s comments sound cavalier and out of touch. Coffee is still coffee, but it has become much more complicated and sophisticated over the past 15 years. The same goes with poultry dishes and the NFL.

So go ahead and cook me some chicken. But I want mine free range, with rosemary, garlic, lemon butter and a dash of sea salt, with a side of herbed couscous and a glass of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

Because Kentucky fried just isn’t cutting it right now.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

1. Just seven days ago, most of us thought that the Raiders had a fighting chance to beat the Chargers. Tonight, we find progress in a turnover-riddled drubbing in which we again failed to score a touchdown. How far, and how fast, our expectations have fallen.

2. Last week I said: “Put Porter in the game or ship him out.” Here’s what Jarrod Cooper said after today’s game: "Put Jerry Porter on the field and, whether he's acting like a chump or not, you know he's going to make plays.” Plays like the one that Alvis Whitted dropped downfield under pressure, perhaps? We’re not the Patriots. We can’t afford manly showdowns with our top talents right now. Not without killing ourselves in the process. If he’s on the team, put him on the field. If you want to punish the guy, run him across the middle.

3. Two games into the season and I’ve already had my fill of Courtney Anderson's drops and miscues. He’s running open on a short route and he doesn’t see the ball hit him in the knee? Will we ever get this position right?

4. Absent Kerry Collins, all of our key offensive starters from last year have returned, along with some supposedly helpful additions through the draft. And yet our offense looks even more dismal than last year. What gives? Is it simply the coaching? After watching Walter go into a seven-step drop and get crushed for a safety, to name just one play call, I really have to wonder. But let’s face some facts…We’ve obsessed over speedy defensive backs in the draft, at the expense of our offensive line (and when we did pick high for our offensive line, we selected the underwhelming Robert Gallery). We’ve failed to bolster our offensive line through free agency. We’ve neglected to build depth and versatility at running back. We’ve misfired on developing sure-handed tight ends. And we put our faith in Aaron Brooks instead of Andrew Walter, when it now looks like Walter might be our only hope. Tom Walsh might be overmatched in today’s NFL, but there’s more to this sad story than game planning. Still, we have enough talent to do better. There is no way we should look this anemic. And that, I’m sad to say, has to fall on the coaching.

5. Bright spots…Chris Carr is an absolute animal…Janikowski’s resurgence is confirmed…Just imagine how good our defense might be if they got a breather once in a while.

Bonus take:
I don't know the answer. I will say that if Walter is going to be the man, he should have been the man in July and August. Now it's trial by fire. We played a wicked defense last week (the Chargers held the Titans to seven points this week) and another one on the road this week. If the o-line can just settle down a bit, and if Walter can begin to get comfortable, and as we face less fearsome defensive opponents, we may see things begin to click. I don't see a lot of upside in sticking with Brooks at this point.

Haiku: Raiders 6 / Ravens 28

Better beats worse but
bumbling persists; Courtney tries
to catch with his knee.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Nation Not Defeated

The game might have been a disaster, but the tailgate was righteous. The Raider Nation was out in force, loud and proud, rocking the Coliseum with a spontaneous “U.S.A! U.S.A!” chant after the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard soared overhead.

I’ve only sold about 40 Raider Take shirts, and there were 60,000 people at the game, so imagine my surprise when I saw a Raider Take shirt cruising right past my tailgate—attached to a fan from Florida, no less. What are the odds of that in a crowd of 60,000? Apparently, fate smiles upon Raider Take. Vince in the Raider Take shirt was joined by Steve and Tim, also from Florida (see top photo). We ate hamburgers and talked shop.

Cousin of Raider Take and I later ambled over to the Raider Nation Podcast tailgate, where we found Greg and Randy, the dynamic duo of RNP, along with Greg’s wife Charmaine and their daughter, who was celebrating her 11th birthday. They were joined by some cool cats from Oklahoma, as well as Raider Rick and CNY Raider Fan. Raider Rick is the benefactor of RNP’s free ticket contest to out-of-area fans, and CNY Raider Fan, who hails from New York, was the winner for this game (photo at right: Rick, CNY Raider Fan, Greg)

So without even trying, we met fans from Florida, Oklahoma and New York. How cool is that?

I returned home to an email from Charger fan (author of the earlier “Raiders Suck” email), in which he states, “You guys just plain suck raider nation is a f**** joke…” Apparently, Charger fan has confused the performance of our offensive line with the performance of our fans.

The performance of our fans remains unchallenged, Charger fan. You’ve got scoreboard right now, but don’t you ever delude yourself into thinking that you can touch the Raider Nation. San Diego is celebrated for its fair weather, but there is no fair weather in the Raider Nation.

Sure, there is a lot of reasonable anger swirling around Monday night’s thrashing. Yes, we lost the game. But the Raider Nation is not defeated.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Five Postgame Takes

My silence in the wake of Monday’s debacle was not intentional. I was on the road with limited internet access, barely able to eke out a haiku. Thanks to all of you who hijacked this place in my absence with your robust commentary. I’m now back at Raider Take HQ, and here are my five (belated) postgame takes. I'm not going to say much about the offensive line, because that would be too easy...

1. Early in the game, we run LaMont Jordan up the middle on second down and 19. In the next possession, we run Jordan up the middle on second down and 18. Two possessions later, we run Jordan up the middle on second down and 17. Do you see a pattern here? I’m sure the Chargers did. Are you sure Norv Turner wasn’t in the building?

2. We found our commitment to the running game on the final drive, with five carries by Justin Fargas, all of which concluded in bounds. Can you please tell me the point of staging a five-minute drive at the end of the game when you are down by 27 points? Is it simply to give Walter, Fargas and gang some practice? If so, why not give them some practice doing something relevant to the game in progress, such as a no-huddle offense for a two-minute drill? Are you sure Norv Turner wasn’t in the building?

3. You see, the last thing I expected this year was…more of the same from last year. More lack of urgency. More unimaginative playcalling. More inability to protect our quarterback. More inability to hit Moss for a big play. More stupid penalties. We had, and still have, every reason to expect this year to be different than last year. If not significantly better, then at least different. Personally, I’m going to maintain that expectation. One game does not make a season.

4. According to Jerry Porter, he wasn’t rooting for Aaron Brooks to be sacked, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. You see, he couldn’t have done that, because he wasn’t even paying attention to the game. In other words he’s not a traitor, just a moron, as if we needed more evidence. However, he’s a talented, highly paid moron who could help this team. When we traded Doug Gabriel, I logically suspected that Porter's feud with Shell was thawing. After all, why else would you trade his presumed replacement for a fifth round draft pick at the eleventh hour? Yet Porter remains stuck in the proverbial ice chest. Art Shell has said several times that he has nothing to say to Porter. Objection! Art Shell has a lot to say to Porter. It is his responsibility to put our best talent to work, especially in the wake of Monday’s offensive meltdown. Right now, it’s the worst of both worlds. We get all of Porter’s disruption without an ounce of his potential contribution. Put Porter in the game or ship him out. Now.

5. After yet another failed drive in the third quarter, Aaron Brooks stood on the sideline, completely alone and, to my eyes, alienated from his teammates. Shouldn’t he be on the phone with Tom Walsh at that point? Shouldn’t he be conferencing with his receivers? Do we have a social problem on our hands? If we do, don’t assume that I’m blaming Brooks. All I’m saying is that something doesn’t look right, socially speaking.

Bonus take: The Patriots barely beat the Bills. The Seahawks barely beat the Lions. The Panthers, the media’s Super Bowl favorites, were dominated by the Falcons. The Buccaneers were shut out by the Ravens. In other words, the Raiders weren’t the only team to get a wake-up call last weekend. Now it’s time to answer the call.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Haiku: Raiders 0 / Chargers 27

A dead end on the
Return to Glory, the home
team becomes roadkill.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Loud and Proud

I’m hitting the road early this morning. I will hook up with Cousin of Raider Take in San Jose, and shortly thereafter we will fire up a righteous tailgate on the Coliseum asphalt. Beer and red meat are the breakfast of champions.

Mad Stork 83 wrote that he is flying in from New Jersey. AzRaider 63 wrote that he is flying in from Phoenix. CNY Raider fan is flying in from New York, courtesy of
Raider Nation Podcast’s free ticket contest for out-of-area fans. These are just a few examples of the Raider Nation converging, from near and afar, to pack the house and launch the Return to Glory.

With the losses of the Broncos and Chiefs yesterday, we are poised to seize first place in the AFC West. What better way to start off the season? We will be 60,000 strong tonight in Oakland, in addition to the tens of thousands of you around the country and the world, and we will do our part to make it happen.

I am grateful for the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard, who will commemorate September 11, 2001 with a flyover by four F-16 Fighting Falcons. The things that make the Raider Nation great are also the things that make our nation great—unity, diversity, innovation, heritage, loyalty, dedication and a relentless ability to rally when the chips are down.

The chips have been down for the past three seasons, but today we begin anew. No one has jumped this pirate ship. We are all still here, loud and proud. And today we will be heard. Raiii-derrrs! Raiii-derrrs!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For The Bulletin Board

Here's a note I just received from a Chargers fan via email, which was creatively titled RAIDERS SUCK:


Here is my reply:

All I can say is that in this decade, the 2000s, the Raiders have been to two AFC Championships and one Super Bowl, while the Chargers have been to no AFC Championships and no Super Bowls.

Parting shot:

The Chargers started off this decade by going 1-15, followed by 5-11, followed by 8-8, followed by 4-12. They've won the AFC West once in this decade, after which they promptly lost to the Jets in a wild card playoff. Meanwhile, the Raiders have won the AFC West three times in this decade, and have won four playoff games.

But Chargers fan, in his infinite wisdom, hallucinates an alternate reality in which the Chargers have dominated the AFC West and have actually earned bragging rights without having won a single playoff game in this decade.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Raiii-derrrs! Raiii-derrrs!

Just a reminder that you can help make the First Drive Experiment a success on Monday night. To recap, the goal is to chant the familiar “Raiii-derrrs” war cry during San Diego's first offensive drive in order 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.

This idea has been met with considerable enthusiasm on several Raiders sites and forums. I have also received several emails about it (thanks to Chris P. for today’s email). As stated before, 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, 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. If anyone has the right connections, please speak up.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could pull it off? Personally, I would freak out. Imagine 60,000 fans chanting “Raiii-derrrs” in unison to kick off the season. Let me know what you think, and thanks again for spreading the word.

P.S. Click here to see what Chargers fans think of this plan. They seem to be a bit unclear on the idea of fan participation. It's understandable, really, when you consider that Qualcomm Stadium was literally draped in black and gold last year when the Steelers came to town.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Your New #2

After two days of mystery and speculation, the official Raiders depth chart has been updated...and Alvis Whitted has leapfrogged into the slot vacated via trade by Doug Gabriel.

Wow, I thought it would be Porter...or Curry.

Is this just more cloak and dagger stuff, or will Alvis join Randy as the new dynamic duo?

Monday, September 04, 2006

For The Record

Yet another writer from Sports "Mothership of The Raiders Haters" Illustrated has predicted the Raiders to win a total of four games this year. He writes: Oakland, 4-12. I can see the headline in the Oakland Tribune on Oct. 9, after the Raiders drop an embarrassing 17-7 game to the crosstown 49ers: "Brooks Throws 5 Interceptions, Benched by Shell.'' It's coming, folks. Don't know when. But Aaron Brooks will break your hearts.

Umm...Didn't the Raiders first team literally blow up the 49ers first team a few weeks ago?

The dire predictions for the Raiders are coming so quickly that I can't keep up with them. We have another writer from Sports Illustrated saying the Raiders are the worst team in the NFL. One site said the Raiders "may well be the worst team in the entire league this season, and one of the worst in the entire modern era."

Please help me out, Raiders fans. For the record, I would like to round up all of these dire predictions and stash them here for future reference. Then, when the Raiders prove them wrong, we can all meet back here for a good laugh.

So if you've got a link to one of these dire predictions, please post it in the comments section. Also, if you can, state the source and paste the relevant excerpt (try to keep it relatively short), just in case the link goes dead at a later date.

The Return to Glory starts now.

Gear of The Week: Defending The Nation

Our backs are against the collective wall, Raider Nation. The Raiders Haters are out in full force, circling like a bunch of brainwashed buzzards, shrieking about Jeff George and other irrelevancies, waiting for us to fail. But we will take careful aim. We will rise up and smite the Raiders Haters. We will pave the Return to Glory. And we will defend our Nation.

Hence, I submit Raider Take’s
Defending The Nation shirt as a bit of ammunition for the upcoming season. Featuring the colors of our AFC West rivals being struck by a bolt of black, this shirt draws a line in the sand and says where you stand.

This shirt features the Raider Take logo on the front. Click
here to purchase.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Roster Announced + George Sets Record

The Raiders have announced their 53-man roster. To look at it another way, click here to see the official release list from the Raiders. Looks like Jeff George smashed the world record for negative media coverage about a fourth-string signing who was with his team for less than a week. Why is that? Hmmm...Could it have something to do with the media looking for any excuse to bash the Raiders?

Oddly, while the Raiders include Tui on their published roster, this report from ESPN says that Tui has been released, possibly to pave the way for George to re-sign after the first game of the season. My gut tells me that they have the Tui news wrong, and that they mistook him for his fullback brother, who was released. (NOTE 6:05 p.m.: ESPN has corrected the story; trust me, they said that the Raiders were down to two QBs).

Gabriel Traded to Patriots!?

According to reports, Doug Gabriel has been traded to the Patriots. No word yet on what the Raiders are getting in return.

If it's true, I sure didn't see it coming. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 4:06 p.m.: I'll really be interested to learn what the Raiders got in return for Gabriel. The guy spends the entire preseason as the #2 receiver, ostensibly developing a crucial rapport with Aaron Brooks and the first-team offense. Then, on the eve of the regular season, we ship him across the country. Either Jerry Porter has really cleaned up his act behind the scenes; and/or we got some outrageous draft pick package; or consider me stumped. Curry still looks a bit hobbled to me, and while I like Morant, I'll be surprised if he's our new #2 at this late hour. No matter how you slice it, this is sure a late shakeup to the presumed starting lineup.

Raider Take Express for 9/2

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. M-Diddy wrote with a link to this article, which actually gives the Raiders credit for signing Jeff George. Better yet, it’s written by a confirmed Raiders Hater from Kansas City. He writes: You laugh at Al Davis and Art Shell. You laugh because you can't fight your hypocritical nature…It's foolish to blast Davis and Shell for doing what makes perfect sense to anyone with the brains to look beyond the easy jokes about George.

Finally, someone in the national media (the local coverage has been pretty fair) consulted their brain before flapping their gums about this whole Jeff George affair. Click
here for The Raider Way’s take on this astonishing development.

2. At the other end of the spectrum, we have a senior writer at Sports "Mothership of The Raiders Haters" Illustrated using the Jeff George signing as an excuse to call the Raiders the worst team in the NFL this year. Wow, how perceptive and reasonable.

3. Thanks to Raider News, Raider Nation Podcast,,, Silver & Black Illustrated online and others for spreading the good word about the
First Drive Experiment, through which the Raider Nation is encouraged to chant “Raiii-derrrs” throughout San Diego’s first offensive drive on September 11, with the intent of pumping up our team; freaking out Philip Rivers; and sending a message to a national television audience that the Raider Nation remains loud and proud. Who knows, it just might happen.

4. Jerry Porter’s star is no longer just falling. It has hit the turf with a resounding thud. Damon wrote with a link to
this article, in which George “Minister of Propaganda” Atkinson calls Porter out. This is quite a reversal of the scene last year, when my cousin and I witnessed George coddling Jerry during a live postgame broadcast at Everett & Jones BBQ. Meanwhile, Jesse turned me on to this column, in which the author rather colorfully sums up the Porter situation and its symbolic resonance. Nevertheless, I don’t want to kick a guy when he’s down (too late, I guess). It is my hope that Porter will wake up and face the music. I hate to see such potential squandered by immaturity and selfishness. If he changes his tune, I will welcome him back. If he doesn’t, then he can just walk the plank.

5. I received an amazing email from BlandaRocked, a diehard Raiders fan since 1969. After he left the Bay Area for Los Angeles, the Raiders arrived three years later. After he returned the Bay Area, the Raiders returned to Oakland three years later. He writes: “I have often said that no football owner has ever shown so much loyalty to one fan.”

He wrote to thank “all of the Raiders blogging network" and asked me to pass the message along. Here’s what he says: “I check for Raider news daily. If my time is limited, I check the Raider blogs and forgo the press. You guys create a kind of daily of the Raiders and the greatest, most knowledgeable fans the NFL has ever seen. You tell the truth with optimism rather than negative, conventional wisdom (i.e., preferred NFL spin)… Having been a passionate Raider fan since 1969, I can intrinsically understand what is happening with the Raiders internally by watching how they play on the field. Your blogs confirm my suspicions, boost my optimism, keep me interested, and provide me with information that I can't get from the media.”

He continues: “Take just a moment to consider what we are currently watching, and the wild ride upon which we are about to be taken. We will be content with a 7-9 season, and mark that as definite improvement. But take just a little time to consider the image of Al Davis and Art Shell, standing side by side, in this season which saw the induction of the great John Madden into the Hall, and being presented with the big silver football on a pedestal. Old school Raiders returning to haunt the ghost of Pete Rozelle. Such is the subject of epic sports novels and movies, and it could happen in real life right before our very eyes. My Raider bothers and sisters, we will enjoy that highest of highs together, just as we have suffered together over the past three season. One cannot truly appreciate the highest of highs without having experienced the lowest of lows. Is it just possible that we are about to be rewarded for our loyalty as no other sports fans have ever been rewarded? Whatever the outcome, I want to thank you in advance for contributing to what may be the most remarkable Raider season I have ever experienced. We stand proud together. And thank you for making the best of football experiences even better.”

Thank, YOU, BlandaRocked!

Friday, September 01, 2006

One Postgame Take

1. After the Raiders produced 10 total yards of offense in the first half against the Seahawks, averaging less than 0.5 yards per play, Art Shell was asked his opinion. He said: “I don’t know this team…We’re not playing good football, in any aspect of our team. It’s embarrassing. As the old saying goes, if you’re afraid, then don’t step out of the locker room.” Ouch. That’s a pretty good take, so I’ll adopt it as my own. I know it’s only the preseason, I know it’s a meaningless game, I know it’s only the second team out there for the vast majority of the half, I know that Shell is perhaps overreacting in order to send a message, etc. But we laid an egg, pure and simple. It was embarrassing. Now, I’m not going to go out and swallow a bottle of rat poison. I’m just disappointed to end an otherwise promising preseason on such a sour note. Onward and upward, Raider Nation.