Friday, September 05, 2008

The Fan Is Always Right

The fan is always right. Well, not always. But I’m often amused when some sportswriter, commentator or player dismisses “the fans” as rabid imbeciles who shouldn’t even be allowed to state the obvious.

Just listen to KSFO’s Raiders postgame shows, which have turned into a bizarre weekly series of mind-control exercises designed to subvert the obvious. The low point came last September, when the hosts berated a 13-year-old kid for making reasonable observations about Sebastian Janikowski’s poor performance on opening day, mocking the young Raiders fan by asking if he was a kicker and telling him to call back when he “grows up.”

How dare this child question Sebastian Janikowski, who was coming off a season in which he ranked 30th in the NFL in field goal percentage, who had fessed up to getting lazy and fat despite being paid millions, and who had just missed three more kicks that afternoon! You tell ‘em, George Atkinson, because you played the game!

I was reminded that the fan is often right while watching the Redskins against the Giants last night. In the big scheme of things, I don’t know squat about football. I have never played nor coached football, which apparently disqualifies me from having an opinion in the eyes of the “you haven’t played the game!” elitists.

What the anti-fan elitists forget, however, is that most of us fans have two important things going for us: common sense and hindsight. In many cases, common sense alone is sufficient. The fact that we often have hindsight on our side is just a bonus, one that is very helpful in forming cogent, reasonable observations.

So, while I may not have “played the game,” it was obvious to me that the Redskins were butchering the concept of clock management at the end of both halves last night, and defying the basic laws of time and common sense in the fourth quarter. I didn’t have to wait for the sportswriters to validate my observations this morning. I made my observations just as quickly as anyone else.

Does that make me a better football mind than Redskins head coach Jim Zorn? Or Art Shell, for that matter? No, of course not. But it does make me question why so many question us fans for stating the obvious, no matter how obvious it is.

Watching the Redskins last night was essentially a morbid flashback of the Raiders under Norv Turner and Art Shell. Go read my postgame takes from 2005 and 2006, which document all sorts of instances of clock mismanagement, insufficient urgency and bizarre timeout strategies.

We’re not even talking about Xs and Os here. We’re talking about kindergarten-level concepts, such as it’s impossible to score twice if you’ve casually run out the clock trying to score once.

But really, what do I know? I’m just a fan, after all.

Thankfully, Lane Kiffin has restored order to my football universe. No longer do I fear that incompetence and illogic will intrude upon my gameday experience. If we lose, I know it won’t be at the expense of intellectual or professional dignity, at least on the coaching side of things.

So why write about this now? First off, I just want to celebrate the fact that the plague of incoherent coaching has been purged from Oakland, thanks to Lane Kiffin. Additionally, on the eve of the new season, I want to ratify our right to have takes, no matter what the football elites have to say about it.

This is Raider Take, and we are Raiders fans, and win or lose, we will have takes. 


Blogger nyraider said...

RT - It's always a pleasure to hear from you. That's one of my favorite takes.

I really feel for that 13-year-old kid (who is only saying what many of us have been saying for years). My son is three (I got started late) and I don't take anything he says for granted. Sometimes he sees things I don't.

I would say that this boy had a better perspective than the great George Atkinson... not to disrespect the man, just keepin it real.

WRT your last thought, I really believe with Lane Kiffin, our days of being out-coached are over. It feels like almost a decade since I could say that.

Let the games begin!

2:57 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

And still - he wakes!

Agreed, RT. Fact is, I think you have assembled a fine group of followers here. I often have the impression that the Raiders brain-trusts read us here and follow our advice.

As for Kiffin, he makes you understand why it is that Al often seeks out youth when searching for an HC. Kiffin has his whole life ahead of him, and he knows he'll rarely, if ever, be out of a job. He doesn't worry about getting fired, he just worries about winning - just assuming that if he doesn't win, he's gone. If he's not willing to occasionally fight with upper management to get what he thinks he needs, he'll lose.

Al never cared about "prickly" relationships. He's like Kiffin. He only worries about winning.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RT I'd take you over Art Shell and Norv combined! Let's hope Kiffin really pulls this thing together this year. It is amazing how much more coherent the teams seems to be since his arrival. He needs to stay a while for this thing really to blossom.


6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RT...I remember that post game rant by George "Aristotle" Atkinson....It was hard to listen to and afterwords there was an odd quiet. I felt the same way about the treatment of this young fan. I can hardly wait to hear Old George pop off with some wisdom like "you need to score points in this game". Priceless! I wish Gannon lived closer so he could do the show.

Welcome back Sean!
Raider Greg

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RT...I remember that post game rant by George "Aristotle" Atkinson....It was hard to listen to and afterwords there was an odd quiet. I felt the same way about the treatment of this young fan. I can hardly wait to hear Old George pop off with some wisdom like "you need to score points in this game". Priceless! I wish Gannon lived closer so he could do the show.

Welcome back Sean!
Raider Greg

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad all of you have so much faith in Kiffin. I wish I did. There is no doubt he is an improvement... but by how much? The Arkansas thing also makes me question his loyalty. I get the feeling that if he loses he is gone (fired) and if he wins he is gone (hired somewhere else). Either way I'll be surprise if he is the Raider coach in 2009.


8:19 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

JF, I can certainly understand how you might have hesitancy. Kiffin still has something to prove, and I hope he gets the time to prove it.

I admit that I'm grading a bit on the curve here, because the Shell and Turner administrations were so bad that Kiffin, by simply applying common sense, looks like a genius.

There was nothing worse that driving up to Oakland, spending a lot of money on gas and tickets, only to see Norv orchestrate an eight-minute scoring drive while down three scores in the fourth quarter. It was an affront to the very notions of common sense and competitive football.

Same with Shell and Walsh, under whom you would have thought a two-minute offense was some sort of exotic, impossible-to-mount concept. And remember when they couldn't even figure out how to challenge a crucial call against the Browns? Remember us going pass-happy in the mud against Seattle? The insanities are too numerous to document here.

I saw none of this type of garbage last year under Kiffin. We still lost 12 games, but at least at wasn't at the expense of logic. I might still gnash my teeth, but I no longer have to pull my hair out at the same time.

Perhaps I'm guilty of doing what I often rail against: lowered standards. If so, I can thank Turner and Shell for that.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. I only watched the 4th quarter of Thurs nights game, but completely understood the frustration that Redskins fans must have been feeling.

Have our standards been lowered? Absolutely. In the last Take there are arguments over whether or not the Raiders will have a 3-13 or 8-8 season. In other words, will the Raiders be total crap or kinda mediocre. I'm hoping for 8-8, kinda mediocre, but not playoff caliber. Not an exciting way to start the season.

Yes, Kiffin is an improvement. How far he will take this team remains to be seen. I do appreciate his candor, I like the way he has challenged the players. Step up or move on. I suppose the same goes for him.


9:26 AM  
Blogger H said...

You know take, this is exactly why I never watch, or listen to, pre or post game shows.

And, I rarely listen to the local sports talk shows. Fans are students of the game. And, by Geroge's standards then, an NFL head coach would be an idiot if he never played in the NFL. Which, by the way, would rule out some names like, oh, Vince Lombardi. Strange, isn't it the Lombardy Trophy they play for each year.

The fans pay their money for tickets, merchandise, food at the stadium, parking and support the sponsors. With that kind of investment, they have a right to their opinion. Without the fans, they don't have a job.

And, that is my opinion. And, this time it ain't humble.


12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i understand what you're saying. i just don't know if this is the time to be saying it.

afterall, kiffin has coached one season. that's it, one little season.
the man had mccown, and culpepper(now retired), as his qb's.

the raiders only started their rebuilding last year.
are they suppose to be finished already ??
should kiffin have turned into lombardi by now ??

kiffins job this season is to make sure jruss survives in one piece because our 0/tackles are terrible.

i know it's a drag to root for 8 wins, and i agree with you about that.
but lets have some patience here.

we cannot have a new coach again next year, and start all over once again.
we cannot afford to keep going in circles anymore.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

H: In regards to your points about fans, I would add the following;

A die hard fan of any team spends a big chunk of his hard earned money AND time in actively following his favorite football team and NFL in general.

The mere fact that such fans are so involved with the sport would indicate a certain level of knowledge about the game and their favorite team.

With Kiffin at the helm, I'm less worried about the game management, play calling, or common sensical decisions that we expect from a HC. Have we lowered our standards or expectations with Kiffin? For me personally, no.

Considering that Kiffin was a greenhorn, 32 year old, 1st year HC last year, I think he handled his responsibilities very well.

Now think back to last season ... how many times do you recall scratching your head about any of his decisions? Very few if any times for me.

I realize Kiffin is a work in progress like our team but I'm 'ok' with this since we are basically in Year 2 of a MAJOR rebuilding project.

I desperately want Kiffin/Raiders to win enough games this year so we can look forward to an even better year (2009) with Kiffin in charge.

2:26 PM  
Blogger H said...

Last year, what concerned me the most was Kiffin's seeming attitude of playing to "not lose".

Late in the season, he admitted it was what he was doing, and his play calling picked up.

The point that he can admit it is refreshing. Now, lets see if he can learn from last years experience.


7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not down on Kiffin. I agree he needs more time. I just don't have 100% faith in the man either.

The Arkansas thing soured me on the guy. He was ready to jump ship before he really got started. It feels to me like he wants to get a few wins under his belt so he can move onto the next job.

Other than seeing more wins, I'd really like to see a stable coaching staff in Oakland. So... I hope I am wrong. After a few years, when he proves he can win and proves his loyalty, then "in Kiffin I will trust."


8:49 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

JF: Just curious but ...

what makes you think Kiffin was ready to jump ship to Arkansas?

I hope you aren't basing this on the fact his name was mentioned as one of many possible candidates for the Arkansas opening since this happens all the time.

Everytime there is a college HC opening, prospective candidates get circulated.

I don't necessarily doubt that Arkansas had a genuine interst in Kiffin. However, if the feeling wasn't mutual, what are we talking about?

Unless a candidate actually interviews for the opening or confirms an interest in the opportunity (Kiffin did neither), it is pure speculation about the level of interest.

If Kiffin leaves the Raiders this year, next year, or at a later date, there isn't anything we as fans can do about it. Kiffin will leave the Raiders by his choice or Al's choice ... the question is when not if.

I am hopeful that Kiffin enjoys the process of rebuilding a team and sees things through so he can see the fruits of his labor.

10:20 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

Great Take, Take!

I think the disdain we get from the "in" crowd is because we have something they don't. We care. We love this team. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, you could say we love this team more than most people love their spouse. Sad? Yes. Not a great stat for the Sacrament of Marriage, but for "better or worse" this is our team.

We may, at times, hope beyond hope, but our criticism comes from that same devotion. Conversely, the “others” are never so honestly motivated.

Atkinson, the Hobo Commentator, should share this conviction. I’m not sure why he doesn’t. Maybe he’s too close. Maybe he’s an enabler. Whatever the reason, that poor kid didn’t deserve the criticism. Hell, as you all know, I proudly dawn my Seabass jersey every Sunday, and I agreed with the kid!

With the Monday night opener almost upon us, I have a bold statement for all. My glass isn’t half empty or half full. My cup runneth over!

Go Raiders!

11:51 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Panthers TD!!!!!! Chargers 0-1

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sole possession of first place on the line tomorrow!!! Who would've thunk it?? Hey NY, can you recommend any good Raider bars in NYC? Preferably downtown??

4:35 PM  
Blogger H said...

Damn NYRaider you beat me to it.

But, on another note, Tom "Greatest thing since perforated toilet paper" Brady has been injured.

Randy "The Quitter" Moss said it was a cheap shot. I guess when you are crawling on your hands and kneeds toward the quarterback, not giving up on the play you have to have eyes in the top of your helmet to see that the pass left Brady's hand a half second before you made contact.

I can see the new Brady rule. If you are blitzing and you get knocked down, you are supposed to stay down. Otherwise Randy Moss will get upset with you.

I watched the first two minutes of the NBC pre game because I didn't know who was playing. You would have thought they wanted the flags lowered to half staff over Brady's injury. If you want to know about knee injuries talk to Stabler and Namath and several hundred other players.

If it had been the QB for Detroit, Miami, Chicago or, dare I say, Oakland, would the media still be holding it's collective breaths.

I'm sure we will be subjected to the the Brady watch by the media now. Just how will the country survive.

I quickly truned to America's Funniest Videos to regain my sanity. Nothing like a few kids accidently hitting adult males in the crotch to remind you what real pain is. Suck it up Moss, it wasn't a cheap shot. The guy just didn't quit on the play, unlike you.


4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you expect from Moss? There goes his bread and butter. If Brady is down for the season expect crybaby Randy to re-emerge. There will be alot of finger pointing, whinning, and excuses being made. But hey, I didn't need to remind any of us what would happen- did I?


4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's how i see tonights game against the donks going:

the donks, using their ratfaced coach's hatred as fuel, will jump out to a quick 14-0 lead.

somewhere in the 2nd quarter, the raiders will get things going, but will still go to the half trailing 17-14.

in a sluggish 3rd quarter, both teams will trade fieldgoals and the score will be donks 20, raiders 17 heading into the final frame.

in the 4th, jruss/mcfadden, will lead the raiders to 2 td drives.

the donks will get a touch also, because the raiders will do something wierd like rushing 3 down linemen after they get the lead.

but late in the game, with the ratboys driving, d'angelo hall will seal the game with a pick.

final score, raiders 31, donks 27.

9:40 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

r2g - Sorry, I can't. I'm not in the city. I'm still searching for a good place myself. Although, tonight I'll watch the game at home, and in two weeks I'll probably be in the stands at Buffalo.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Let's Play Raider Ball!

6:41 PM  

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