Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ripping the Rippers

When I saw the recent headline about Stuart Schweigert “ripping” the Raiders, I had to laugh. It reminded me of his many Cirque du Soleil performances, a silly man flying around, hitting nothing.

Remember Schweigert getting run over by that pipsqueak in Tennessee? Or his patty-caking the Packer last year over a 20-yard span?

It seems that every time someone is booted by the Raiders these days, they “rip” the team on their way out. The Haters love it, and say it’s just more proof of a team in disarray.

Au contraire, Haters. These comments are not evidence of a problem, but rather evidence of a problem being purged. Big distinction.

The problem being purged is terminal lack of character and talent, a condition that has admittedly been allowed to fester too long in Oakland, be it through scholarships, executive inattentiveness or whatever.

It’s rather telling that so many of our starters, when cut, can barely compete for backup positions on other teams. And I’m not just talking about one-year Raiders like Aaron Brooks and Dominic Rhodes, but guys like Barry Sims, Kerry Collins, Alvis Whitted, Stuart Schweigert and, soon, LaMont Jordan. Those who do start for other teams, like Jerry Porter and Randy Moss, took more than they gave when in Oakland.

Is it any wonder, then, that many of these guys would rip the Raiders upon their exit? If they take any responsibility for their failures, they hurt their chances at getting that coveted backup job with the Titans.

At the same time, they usually can’t help revealing their true colors. Here’s what Schweigert had to say about the past few months: “It was terrible, sitting through the meetings and working on the defense they were putting in and all the time knowing I wasn't going to be a part of it. I wasn't into it mentally, emotionally or physically.”

Gee, that’s the spirit! What a professional. Even if you're thinking it, you don't say it.

Here’s another quote: “I basically didn't play the last five games of the season, yet I was fourth on the team in tackles. But they kept talking about how I wasn't a good tackler.”

You can get dragged down the field or run over and eventually make a tackle in the statistical sense. He’s lucky they don’t keep stats on missed tackles, bad angles and patty-cakes.

My intent isn’t to “rip” Schweigert just for fun (although he started it), but rather to simply use him as the latest example of the fresh air that is finally blowing through Oakland, aided by the departure of one underperforming malcontent after another.

So rip away, guys. Bring it on. Add fuel to the Hater fire. Because at the end of the day, you’ll have to do something you’ve rarely done before, which is do your talking on the field (assuming you can earn your way back to the field). At that point, your silence will speak volumes about why you were not part of the solution that is unfolding today in Oakland.

P.S. A reminder about the upcoming Biletnikoff Foundation events on June 1-2, which will feature several Raiders legends. To honor their slain daughter Tracey, Fred and Angela Biletnikoff established their foundation to support young women recovering from substance abuse and provide education for the prevention of domestic violence. See Calico Jack’s story for more information on these events.