Sunday, June 14, 2009

Return to Glory via Murphy's Law

My takes are so few and far between these days that they all have to begin with an apology. At this point, of course, I understand if my apologies fall on deaf ears.

All I can say is that life has lately taken me on some detours from the well travelled roads of Raider Land.

Still, I really doubt that I’ve missed much. After all, Barrett Robbins is today's headline. Heck, maybe I can say that I’ve just been waiting for Darrius Heyward-Bey to return to practice. If he gets to take an extended break, why can’t Raider Take? I sprained by typing finger. Yeah, that’s it…

Anyhow, this is the time of year when I buy all the NFL season preview guides and get my skivvies in a twist because they’re all predicting the Raiders to finish last in the AFC West. I scream about the injustice of it all, and I declare that I will be having the last laugh come December.

Well, this year is different—and not because anyone is predicting the Raiders to do well.

Rather, it’s different because I’m resigned to the fact that we suck until we prove that we don’t.

The Raider Haters have been right for five straight years now. For five straight years, I’ve fired back at their unjust predictions of yet another lost season ahead. And now I’m all out of bullets. It’s hard for me to talk tough when we’ve been playing like there’s a lion on our helmet for the past five years.

Of course, this actually bodes well for the Raiders. Now that I’m not sticking my neck out for them, they’ll surely turn things around. It’s called Murphy’s Law, and it’s now in their favor.

On a side note, we know that some in the sports media wield an unprofessional agenda against the Raiders, as proven in my pioneering (and now much-imitated) “News You Can’t Use” series.

I do not paint the sports media with a broad brush. Most do their job well. However, it’s a demonstrated fact there are several prominent voices at both the national and local level who play loose with the facts and even lie to advance their agenda against the Raiders. Sports Irritating and ESPN have proven to be two safe havens for the Raider Haters.

So it was refreshing to read the following assessment of the Raiders by Sports Irritating’s Don Banks in a recent piece ranking the NFL teams of this decade:

What are the sad-sack Raiders and their sub-.400 winning percentage doing above four other clubs at .406 or better? None of those teams went to a Super Bowl earlier this decade. None of those teams were seeded second, third and first respectively in the AFC playoffs of 2000-02. So while I know the memory of the Raiders going 33-15 to start this decade is distant and ever-fading, it did happen. And let's be honest: Oakland got jobbed in the Snow Bowl. You know it, and I know it. It was a fumble.

Wow, he actually acknowledges the Super Bowl appearance and the fact that we got screwed in the snow. Usually, we get a bunch of Jedi mind tricks: The Raiders were never good. The Super Bowl never happened. It wasn't a fumble. Tom Brady cures cancer...

So kudos to Don Banks for sticking to the facts and, to borrow his own word, being honest. The fact that he has to state "let's be honest" tells you all you need to know about some of his peers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous gary said...

As much as we butt heads in comments RT, I do almost always enjoy your Takes... you ARE a talented writer. I just wish you would show it off more. lol

11:21 PM  
Anonymous ButteryPat said...

Alright! I was just gonna check in quick and see if there was anything new and interesting in the comments, but I didn't expect this! A whole new Take! And RT, I understand the dry spell. There just isn't that much interesting stuff happening right now. Sure, there's OTA's, but it just seems kinda silly to try and translate what's going on now into what will happen on the football field. Pre-season's a little better, because it at least resembles an actual game.

You know, the other day I said point-blank to my brother (Ravens fan, blech) "The Raiders are coming back this year". And he said to me "well, I believe you, you must see something, because you've never said that before". And it's true, I haven't. This is the first time since the Super Bowl loss where I've looked around at the guys we've got and said to myself "you know, I think we might have a good team on our hands".

I realize it's been a long and hard six years. I have no idea what you guys in the Bay Area have been going through. I'm exposed to a very small of it up here, but I'm sure it's hell where you guys are at. But, as somebody who hasn't felt good about this team in a long team, I really think this is the year the team starts to earn back the respect of the NFL. I don't know how many wins, I don't really do that, but I do think this is the year they stop laughing. And the lower ranked, the better. I like it when you surprise people.

It's a brand-new season, we've got a lot of young guys who seem just about ready to move to the next level, a coach whose only motive is to coach the team he's always loved to success, and a team that spent the last part of last season looking like a team that can stay in a game for 60 minutes. I can't say anything about number of wins, but I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

1:28 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Thanks for your kind words and hanging in there with me, I hope to be more productive as we head toward training camp.

To keep the gears oiled a bit more, I have established a Twitter account for Raider Take, too. This is for really quick takes and observations, check it out at:

8:28 AM  
Blogger RaiderCat said...

Well, look what the 'Cat dragged in...! Hey, RT... I get it. I think we all do.

It's been such a rut that has actually made the Kool-Aid un-quenching. And I, for one, have been a thirsty 'Cat. But I've practically drowned myself in it, longing for another glimpse of glory.

At this juncture, the positive synergy I feel with the CableMan's attitude - (I just wanted to use that word!) - has me doubting whether or not it's due to over-indulgence of the Kool-Aid. Actually, my Kool-Aid has come in a green bottle/can... namely, Heineken.

Yeah, I keep my head up... I smile while quietly acknowledging the Raider-woes amongst OtherFans - Steeler-ones, in specific - and I do congratulate - jealously, I might add - their 6th Championship.

I visit our fan sites without much fervor, hoping beyond hope, for a sliver of knowledge that I should Shout "AMEN!" from the rooftops, basking in True-confidence once again.

I can fully understand your Take. I can probably jump on B'Pat's wagon of light at the end of the tunnel. But, as Metallica put it so succinctly, I pray that the soothing light at the end of our tunnel is not just a freight train coming our way...


9:17 AM  
Blogger RaiderCat said...

'Take! H! Calico! B'Pat! Panty'!

Is it true???

Have we signed a 3-year deal with DE Greg Ellis?

"...somebody shake me,
'cause I, I must be dreaming..."


10:28 AM  
Anonymous gary said...

I kind of like the "live chats" and if you read the latest at "Raiderbeat" they seem to be more optimistic than Jmacs. They also seem to be convinced that our new DC likes to blitz his linebackers.. which IMO will add 4 wins alone! We have speedy LB's that can't cover anybody... why not at least use them to blitz on passing downs? It never made a lick of sense to me... although I not sure anything SOB ever did made much sense to me. This addition by subtraction is what gives me the most optimism. Benching Fargas will help too!

If JRus keeps improving and McF stays healthy, I think we have enough talent to win the AFC West... maybe even handily. The AFCW might be the worst division top to bottom in NFL history, especially if SD keeps getting worse.

11:46 AM  
Blogger H said...


Good to hear from you again. The Don Banks blurb could have been written by me, Blanda or Panty. We've said much the same thing here. Glad to see someone in the media actually gets it.

This decade 60% of the NFL have not been to the Super Bowl. We have.

When we come out of this, and we will, we are going to the top.

That light in the tunnel is a train, the Silver and Black Express.


It appears the rumors are true. Greg Ellis signed a three year contract. He will move from OLB to DE according to the articles I read.

This may signal mixing in some 3-4 along with the base 4-3 since Ellis seems to be able to play either scheme.


Look at it this way. We are bored because we are in calm waters this year. But, calm waters usually make for smoother sailing.

The media seems to be afraid to attack like the last few years. I take that as a good sign since many of them take the tact of "if you can't say anything bad, don't say anything."

In other words, they will still predict a last place finish, but there will be some bet hedging so they can come back and say "Well, everything finally fell into place."

The glass is getting fuller.


12:50 PM  
Blogger RaiderCat said...

"...That light in the tunnel is a train, the Silver and Black Express..."

"This may signal mixing in some 3-4 along with the base 4-3 since Ellis seems to be able to play either scheme"


The "Silver and Black Express"!! Gotta love it!

I can't see the mixing in of a 3-4 without an anchor NT in the middle. I don't think Sands can demand a Center/Guard combination, negating an ILB... although we do have decent speed at all of the LB positions, excepting Frantz Joseph (given he makes the team). If not Sands... Warren? Boschetti? Joseph?


1:39 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

I too am waiting for the Raiders to prove the haters wrong. Rough ride these past few years but at least there seems to a relative calm in Alameda for a change. Maybe they can finally get down to playing decent football.

Just hoping we see more of the team that beat the Broncos, Texans & Bucs last year.

Looking forward to following the takes & ensuing comments here as well.

Better times in '09!!

Bring it on Cable Guy!!


6:04 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Greg Ellis as a base end should improve our run D. I guess now the question is whether or not Burgess is going to be sent packing. Personally, I would rather see us squeeze 1 more year out of DBrug than get a 3rd or 4th round pick.

If, and this is a HUGE if, DC Marshall has the freedom and inclination to use the LBs liberally as blitzers, I envision a big improvement in our D. Howard in particular could really be a game changer coming off the edge with his speed and power.

Welcome back RT. I will be curious to hear about your 'twittering' experience.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...


This may signal mixing in some 3-4 along with the base 4-3 since Ellis seems to be able to play either scheme.

I think I read he was unhappy at Dallas because of their 3-4. I'd be very surprised if we saw even a glimpse of it.. as someone else said, we don't have anything close to the tackles to handle it.

This seems to me a "SAY BYE BYE TO BURGESS" deal more than anything.

Bring in Ellis on passing downs and see if he has anything left in the tank.

Works for me.

9:57 PM  
Blogger H said...

My reasoning, and it was just a guess on my part (after all I'm no Coach Elkins), is to use it on occasion to disguise some of the blitz packages. Keep 'em guessing.

Line up initially 3-4, shift to base 4-3 or make them guess which LB is coming.

Marshall is primarily a 4-3 guy, so if they even did it, it would probably only be about 10% of the time.


4:43 AM  
Blogger H said...

One more item,


"The Raiders were never good. The Super Bowl never happened."

How many times were Blanda, Panty and I (I guess we're the Three Amigos - man that was a bad movie), shot down for mentioning the exact same thing.

Maybe since someone in the media has said it some folks will look at the actual record and say "Damn, Don is right. We really were in the Super Bowl in January of '03"

Speaking of which, Barrett Robbins has come out and said he feels responsible for the SB loss.

For sure it didn't help, but it's still a true team game. Gannon and others did their share too.

I hope he has finally come to grips with his demons. He may never conquer them, but going one day at a time he may be able to keep them at bay. It's more important that he get well than to dwell on what happened then.


5:11 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

My note to Robbins is: hey, don't take all the credit, it was only partly your fault. Now shut your piehole.

H, you are right, you were saying that about the 2002 season and preceding two seasons. So was I...up to about two years ago, when it had already long been erased from the history books by several in the national media.

Now, Banks' article is about the entire decade, so he's right about the big picture as it regards the decade, which makes him a bigger person than some of his peers.

My thing is, as time goes on, the 2000-2002 seasons become less and less a defense of what's been happening since.

There's a fine line between defending and enabling, and that's why I stopped pointing to the 2002 Super Bowl season as an excuse for why it's okay for us to play like there's a lion on our helmet for five straight years. A few years, maybe. But not five.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...


I hate to be a stickler for detail but you mean '6' not '5' in terms of "playing like there's a lion on our helmet".

2003 = 4 wins
2004 = 5 wins
2005 = 4 wins
2006 = 2 wins
2007 = 4 wins
2008 = 5 wins

2009 -> anything less than 7 wins is a failure IMO.

CJ :D "Stay thirsty, my friends!"

8:15 AM  
Blogger RaiderCat said...

"Bring in Ellis on passing downs and see if he has anything left in the tank."

Ellis is an every-down kinda DE, isn't he? Good at stopping both run and pass. I wasn't a Cowboy-homer, so I haven't paid particular attention to his play.

Welcome to the "Intelligent" (lol) site for Raider-homers, Ian!

Barrett Robbins was a catalyst for the domino effect for SB XXXVII. We never stood a chance going into the game - there was no way Cally could have changed Gannon's check down priorities... er, that is, unless he realized his opposing coach helped create them.


Yeah, RT... perhaps you need to play it Murphy's way. There comes a time when you need to step back and re-assess your passions in life. I think, too, that I need a different perspective - I've been the enabled in many ways - and may now need to change my check down priorities.


8:27 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Thanks, Calico Jack. I'd lost count...which is all you need to know about the state of our organization lately.

Yes, Robbins and Callahan were both guilty of taking a mental vacation prior to the Super Bowl.

8:33 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Well said, RT. No apologies necessary. As the Raiders are finding out, sometimes less is more.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

True, as in: Less running with scissors = more wins.

9:25 AM  
Blogger H said...


I never pointed to those years to be standing on the sidewalk shouting “All is well” as Kevin Beacon did in Animal House. All was not well. And, while I have no definitive proof, I feel things are turning around. It may be just my infernal optimism, but we may look back on the Kiffin firing as the bottom (and please folks don’t come back telling me how Al should have done it sooner, we’ve been over that ad nauseum and we still can’t change it).

I was merely arguing with the folks that were saying the game had passed Al by. As if suddenly in the fall of 2003 there was some quantum leap in the NFL and Al was left in the dust of antiquity along with leather helmets and the single wing. Wait a minute, scratch that last one, they’ve brought it back.

This may have been the “Decade of the Dolts” as far as division championships go. But, that is only “thus far”. We have three division championships to their four. Those three are more than the Chefs and Geldings combined.

I harbor no delusions of grandeur. We have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. But, with a few breaks we just might slip up on everyone and win the West. That would make four, the same number as the Dolts. Add that to the trip to the Super Bowl and this decade takes on a whole new perspective.

In my opinion the offense will be better. Schilens will be better, Miller will be even more productive and we have one of the best stable of running backs in the league. While all the hype is on Russell, he just needs to be efficient, not spectacular at this point. The real mystery is Marshall and his defense, and how the offensive line will hold up. That’s the key as I see it, and it’s three rather large “if’s” at this point.


”There comes a time when you need to step back and re-assess your passions in life. I think, too, that I need a different perspective”

Couldn’t agree more. There are many, many things more important than what happens on Sundays in the fall. I found that out long ago. They do, however, provide a temporary distraction and diversion from other goings on. And, they are a lot more fun if come Monday morning the team is 1-0 for that Sunday. Could be part of my continued optimism.


9:33 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

H, there is a very real phenomenon known as "losing it." It happens to filmmakers, authors, comedians, business people, you name it. It can happen, and it can happen virtually overnight.

I'm NOT saying Al Davis lost it.

But he definitely made it food for thought by overseeing the worst six-run stretch in NFL history, one marred by an astonishing array of misguided decisions.

Author X might have written many great books. But if he starts writing terrible books, folks are going to start thinking he's lost it. That's just the way it is. The more terrible books written, the more that sentiment gains traction.

9:53 AM  
Blogger RaiderCat said...


Oh, I won't change from being a Raider "homer"... I'm still drinking the Kool-Aid, and believe our glass is half-FULL. I have, however, removed my rose-colored glasses. Yet I still believe the CableMan has changed the culture for the good. As I've stated previously, "Coaching... what a concept."

I was more referring to the "check down" portion of the statement.

Those little green friends of mine named Heine, to be more specific...!


10:06 AM  
Anonymous gary said...


Author X might have written many great books. But if he starts writing terrible books, folks are going to start thinking he's lost it. That's just the way it is. The more terrible books written, the more that sentiment gains traction.

To continue this analogy, lets say after these bad books, he created a short story that was maybe not brilliant, but pretty close... wouldn't this give you hope his next novel will be pretty damn good? That maybe he hasn't lost it completely??

The "short story" in this was how the Raiders closed out the season last year. If you want to ignore it as an aberration or something... fine.

It seems to me more of an indication of a team finally coming together.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I'm not ignoring it. I'm just pointing out why it's natural and expected for folks to wonder about an executive's abilities when he presides over a period of record-setting failure.

I hope that's light we see at the end of the tunnel. That would be great. I'd love for Mr. Davis to show that he's still got it.

If we don't make the playoffs this year, we have failed again, in my opinion. That may be an unpopular opinion, but so be it.

We're in a awfully weak division, and numerous teams have gone from losers to contenders within the span of a year. We've had plenty of time to figure out how to do it ourselves, and there's no excuse for not finally doing it.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Danna said...

RT, I've followed you for years. Taking time off refreshes you, gives you some perspective. It's all good. I agree with ButteryPat..I feel different about this year too. It's the new faces but it's also what I see as a willingness among the players, old and new, to make this team their own. To mold it to Cable's expectations, and shed off all the old cobwebs. I'm fired up and I can't wait for MNF this year. Long live the Raiders.

4:37 PM  

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