Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dan's Pick(s)

Not a lot of time to blog as I am still stuck in the work day, but...

I picked the Donkeys and Panthers this week in my pool, so I'll stay consistent. Only picked the Broncos because I picked the Chiefs last week and I am superstitious. Now that I've actually written that out it sounds pretty stupid.

As for the Packers-Cowboys, I'm going with the Cowboys because Woodson will be hobbled with the same sort of toe injury he had in Oakland and the Packers will feel the same pain we felt all those years: brilliant for the 6 games he plays each year, and paid over $1.5 million for each of those appearances.

But if I ever get away from my computer, I'll be fully cheering for Favre and the Pack. As for John's comment, I would argue that there are a few other differences, among them about 7 trips around the world in passing yardage, 15 years of consecutive games played, 3 MVPs, a Super Bowl ring, etc. That tongue-in-cheek cameo hardly qualifies as a wild Hollywood lifestyle, even if Favre had his share of fun Appleton-style back in the day. But it is true that you can't compare some 27-year-old's partying after becoming an overnight star to the down-to-earth habits of a 38-year-old who has been a Hall of Fame lock for as long as anyone can remember.

Spend some time in Wisconsin and you'll understand how important Favre is. Berman, Madden, anyone else's man-crushes still can't overstate Favre's greatness. In my mind there's not a better story or greater player in NFL history, and this year's resurgence simply adds a Jordanesque comeback as icing on the cake.

There's Something About Mary Buckheit

Apparently she's never seen this movie. That's what I take from reading this column, anyway. I wanted to find the clip that actually had Brett Favre in it, but this is close enough. The only real difference between Brett Favre and Tony Romo is that Brett Favre is 67 years old and Chris Berman has a massive man-crush on him. Romo might show up in the tabloids, but he hasn't appeared in a major motion picture yet. And he hasn't had been to Betty Ford, either. And I can't help but think that if Brett had starred in a city with a population of more than 30,000 people, he would have been getting lap dances from insane former pop sensations, too.

I fully expect a rebuttal from Dan Hauenstein...

John's Picks

I'm going with the Cowboys tonight. I would like to see a New England/Green Bay matchup in the SuperBowl, though, if only to see Charles Woodson matched up against Randy Moss in a battle of formerly disgruntled Raiders. Remember the game in 2003 when Wood shut him down? That was a serious matchup. But Charles might not play tonight against TO, which is a huge advantage to Romo.

I should also mention that the Professor is a huge Romosexual.

I'm feeling pretty postive about our local teams' chances this week. Carolina Sucks. GreenBalls is like 64 years old. Dilfer has a nice goatee. Niners win, 20-13. Unless someone smack-talks Steve Smith.

As I said before, I will be in the House (somebody REALLY needs to get Britney Spears out of the Flash Player rotation) this Sunday for the first time since 2004. Interestingly enough, that game was also against the Broncos. We got smoked.

Not this time. We're building momentum after the huge win in KC. Raiders 24, Donkeys 20.

I also predict that I will drink a lot of beers in the parking lot Sunday Morning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A tale of Two Blogs

I list a couple of blogs in the Links section over to the right of this column. One is the Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald's "Inside the Oakland Raiders" blog. The other one, which I call the "SFGate Hater Blog," is the San Francisco Chronicle's "Silver&Black" blog.

Jerry's blog is updated daily; on days the practices he might post two or three entries.

SFGate's blog is updated sporadically, mostly by David White.

You can tell by the comments section which blog is read and respected by the Nation. Jerry's blog is filled with passionate comments by passionate fans.

Maybe three people leave comments on the SFGate blog.

A perfect illustration of why Jerry rules and that other blog sucks is today's non-story about Lane Kiffin going to Arkansas.

First read Jerry's.

Then David's.

Tell me, which one is more informative? Which one is more illuminating?

I'm tempted to ask why SFGate even has a Raiders blog. But I guess it doesn't matter as long as the Trib keeps Jerry McDonald employed.

He's my hero.

Week 13 picks: Sllaacs Introduces "integretous" into the Lexicon

So, with the Cowboys playing the Packers tomorrow night, I emailed Sllaacs this morning and suggested we use that game as the third this week. He replied:

Good call. I'm going to go with the 'Boys, 35-24 - even though a) I hate them, 2) they are suckas III) blow me, I hate them. And in conclusion, they are a bunch of assholes. Straight up, you won't find a less integretous group of guys this side of OJ's golfing buddies who rolled on him. Did I mention that I am a Niners fan? You gotta love Favre though. Maybe he can pull one out.

Niners at Carolina. Hard to pick - I mean Carolina sucks, and if the Niners are who they were against the Cardinals, then the Niners should win. Still, I pick the Panthers 23-14.

I got a new term; it's called getting Dilfer-ed. To be Dilfer-ed is to think you knew who you thought they were only to find out that they weren't. The Cardinals thought they knew who the Niners were. They got Dilfer-ed.

On that note, did the Raiders Dilfer the Chiefs last week? Well, they Dilfer-ed the streak, that's for sure. I'm going with Denver in this one, just because they own the Raiders, and seem to find a way to break this teams spirit at least once a year. 24-23 - Sea Bass misses a big one.

It was nice to see last week that the Bay Area does have Professional Football. And let Monday be a lesson; we could all be Dolphin fans. Could you imagine? I mean, rooting for guys who dress like that? C'mon.

There's a lot to talk about this week, and I want to keep them in separate posts...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kiff vs. Herm

Okay, so this is an old clip. But as numerous columnists have pointed out, and Dan and I discussed as it was happening, that 4th and 1 play was retarded. Burning two timeouts and then going for it? Sure, we were absolutely certain that Smith was going to pick up that yard. We hadn't stopped him all day. But when Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard stuffed him, the jubilation in the room almost woke the baby up from her nap.

As Carl Steward writes, Kiffin turned it loose in the fourth quarter. When Miller made that 28 yard catch-and-run, Dan turned and said, "That's exactly what Miller should be doing." And Daunte unleashed that strike to JP, followed by Huggy Jr's TD, and it was on.

And the streak is over. I just hope Cam Inman hasn't jinxed us.

Oh, speaking of jinxes, as Dan wrote yesterday, we both picked the Quiefs to win. We firmly believe this reverse-jinx helped the Raiders get over the hump, mostly because we're insane. But anyway, I'm not sure what to do this week, since I'll actually be in the House. I'm thinking I'll do like Joe Theisman used to do on, where he'd abstain from picking the Sunday Night game he was calling. Not sure why he did that, like it would influence who his predictable, boring comentary would favor. But I'm feeling good about the Raiders--I mean really, actually positive about them--for the first time in like 4 years. All of Norv's wins (except for the Denver Snow Game) and Art's wins felt like relief more than progress. But this win shows me that Kiffin knows what he's doing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I'm thrilled to put up the milestone 100th CLOAK post as we rejoice the Raiders' first win against the AFC West since 2004! Two guys stepped up to make it happen: Morrison and Fargas. Any questions surrounding Kiffin's use of RBs was answered today. Fargas was brilliant against a defense that is actually decent. And that means the offensive line didn't do too badly, either.

Run defense? Not so good. But why dwell on the negative after a win? Culpepper managed things well, the play calling provided enough of a mix to free up Fargas, and the announcers uttered a phrase seldom heard during Raider broadcasts: "Culpepper has all kinds of time back there." Incredible.

Any way you look at it, this is progress. A win on the road in a hostile environment against a division opponent. Although I'm a little sorry it took John and me picking against them for things to turn around.

Kirk Morrison

#52 stuffs Kolby Smith. He wants to step up.

The Professor is doing her best to jinx the Raiders. Stay tuned.

Will Someone Step Up?

We find ourselves in a relatively familiar situation: Clinging to a slim lead in the 4th quarter. What we've lacked is someone stepping up - to force a turnover, make a big sack, extend a drive on offense. It just doesn't happen. So here we sit with 4 minutes left in the game and our defense slowly being shredded again.

Please...somebody...step up and win this game for us!

Signs of Life

Touchdown, Raiders! After being in the doghouse for weeks, and asking for his release, Lamont Jordan comes in and scores on a sweep from six yards out.

Jerry Porter made an unbelievable catch on a third down to keep the drive alive.


So Dan came over to watch the game. We figured if we united both COI bloggers in the same room, the collective karma would put the Raiders over the top.

So far, it's not really working.

The Huff interception was nice. But our run defense is still abysmal. It must be nice to be a rookie RB getting your first start against the Raiders. Talk about a confidence builder.

The offense isn't horrible so much as it's boring. Fargas looks okay but our receivers are dropping too many balls. There's no speed whatsoever. It almost makes me wish we had Alvis Whitted. He couldn't catch a cold, but at least it was exciting watching the ball float through the air before it bounced off his face mask.

Dan's Picks

As the Raiders take their quest for the mythical third regular season win to Missouri, I'm taking the "show me" approach to picking their games. Kansas City will win 17-16 after LaMont Jordan fumbles while trying to run out the clock, setting up the Chiefs' game-winning drive.

Most years, neutral Bay Area football types say, "At least the Raiders are trying to get better." This year the 49ers' hopelessness comes after an offseason spending spree, and the comments seem to have morphed to, "At least the Raiders might get better." Until Nolan's suggestion box starts paying dividends, I'm going to pick against the 49ers, too. Arizona 24-10.

And while I'm a big fan of Southeast Jerome, I too pine for what might have been had Kiffin been able to lure Gannon - er - Garcia to Oakland. He's pretty good. Probably a little weird, but he does win games. So I have no idea what the score will be. Maybe things go crazy in the ones place and it will be 30-20?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

John's Picks

Happy Thanksgiving. Let's get right to it.

The Raiders are smart not to cut Lamont or Dominic this week, because LJ's out, and Priest is retired. They didn't want one of them running wild on us. I bet they get cut next week after the Denver game. Anyway, we're losing 13-9.

The Niners are losing, too. Only they're losing by a lot more than four points. The Cardinals run them off the field, 27-0.

The other game, Washington vs. Tampa, well, it's coming down to Coach Janky Spanky, Southeast Jerome, and Dolemite Jenkins.

Redskins win, 21-18.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Week 11 Picks


My bad, I am a little late. I was going to pick the Pack over Detroit 37-26, but I was, uh late in making the entry. Here are my picks for Sunday:

The Raiders will get rolled for what, thier eighteenth straight division loss? Now that's a Black Hole - a place where wins are just sucked out of you and losses are blasted back in your face like a fine mist of particles, sticking like shit to a jacket made of helpless baby seal skin - seals that literally were clubbed over thier heads much like the Raider fans are figuratively clubbed over thiers by the constant F***ing losing... But I digress. This game will probably be just as frustrating for Oakland fans as the other Raider losses this season - 16 - 10, K.C. Look closely at Culpeppers Numbers, they aren't that bad considering - and I think Oakland could do worse than signing the immobile veteran for next year, and then allowing the mobile interception machine McClown to go about his merry way.

The Niners will lose. Will they get into the end zone though? Hell, I don't know - but I do remember a guy named Pat Barnes ran the Niner offense for about 4 games in 1999, and I think that the sense of futility that permeated the entire franchinse from that horrible period of time has once again reared its' ugly head. 23 - 8, Arizona. The Niners will get a safety and a defensive TD.

Tampa Bay will beat the 'skins. Notice that I keep picking T.B. games? Wonder why that is - could it be because as a Niner fan, I might look at those games and harken - that's right, I harken - back to the days of old when we had a QB that was a legit QB? Yes. That is the reason.

The Redskins bring a good D, and a lame O, while T.B. seems pretty much statistically unimpressive on both sides of the ball, but Jeff Garcia is a winner - and winners win. While losers, well - we all know what losers do. They end sentences with prepositions. 23 - 17, Tampa over Washington.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Time for Reflection

This rebuilding year under young Lane Kiffin has been at times quite difficult to read. Many befuddling situations seem only to make sense under one of two possibilities:
  1. Al Davis' meddling is at odds with Kiffin's plans
  2. Kiffin is absolutely focused on building for next year and he has to change a deeply damaged locker room culture

Under scenario #1 our recent misery is unlikely to abate anytime soon. But under scenario #2 we will continue to await an inevitable a return to glory, complain about referees, and attend frozen away games. Despite the foregone conclusion, it's worth looking at a few of the current head-scratching situations within this context. I'll start with the running backs.

Jordan is in the doghouse but on the roster. Rhodes has barely touched the field. Fargas is starting. Bush won't play in 2007. Much of the scenario #1 talk has centered on how short-sighted it is to hold onto Jordan/Rhodes to keep him off the Chiefs or Broncos rosters at the expense of critical development/evaluation time for Bush. Clearly, Davis is loathe to let another free agent signing be declared a bust and then watch as he embarrasses him by contributing to a record-extending divisional loss. But it may not be such a bad reason, and activating Bush may not have been such a great idea. The Raiders have to win at least one game against the AFC West this year to take something positive into the offseason. And if Bush were to get injured this year it would be devastating.

The end of this year is going to be about getting JaMarcus' feet wet. Two guys in the backfield who haven't played a down would be tough to digest. The first time Bush missed picking up a blitz could destroy the franchise. Speaking of picking up a blitz, Fargas' block against Minnesota made it clear why he's starting and Jordan has hit the bench. Fargas is running ok, but he's doing all the little things Kiffin wants his RBs to do. After a brilliant start, Jordan has been phased out as too injury-prone, too unwilling to do everything it takes to improve, and yes, too expensive next year. Why not cut him if he's not the kind of guy we are rebuilding around? He's cheap this year, Crash Test Dummy might get hurt, he might have trade value in a trade/restructure deal, maybe he'll get with the program and take another pay cut to stay...and we don't want him replacing Larry Johnson this week or plugging into Shanahan's system on December 2.

So what about Rhodes? The argument for scenario #2 is to label Rhodes a classic Davis Super Bowl star signing that flops. Kiffin is not just going to play him because he was signed, he has to earn it. In his limited - well, extremely limited - reps this season he hasn't exactly impressed. So why keep him? I tend to believe the Jay Glazer rumor that they considered cutting him, and may yet, but didn't for a few reasons: their return game is awful, they were undecided on Bush, and yes, they wanted to keep him off the Denver and Kansas City rosters.

The risk in all of this is that whether you believe in scenario #1 or scenario #2, the same reason for doing something could emerge from either scenario and cause harm in the locker room. For instance, if the Raiders are holding onto Jordan and Rhodes at least partly to keep them out of Denver and KC's hands, is it because Al is a spiteful maniac or because the single most important thing the Raiders can take out of Kiffin's first season would be a win over one or both of those opponents? Either way, you risk holding onto players who become cancers in the locker room, causing other veterans to say, "Moss was right - they don't treat their veterans well."

This will be a big test for Kiffin the rest of the way. Can he build a new locker room culture without entirely purging the locker room? His handling of wide receivers has been far different - they're all gone. The Jordan and Rhodes situation has risk written all over it. A win against Kolby Smith and the Chefs this week would go a long way towards mitigating that risk.

With that, I'm declaring turkey more important than looking at any other odd Raiders situation today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


While John deals with a fussy baby, I'll recap today's Raider game in one word: AARGH!

So many mistakes, with the offense on track for an all-time record for the most stupid penalties in a single season. Absolutely no run defense. It's as if Morrison is the only guy out there during running plays, and he's making tackles 8 yards down the field because he's got a center and a guard on him with no one up front taking up those blocks. Chester Taylor - granted, not your average backup - averaged over 8 yards per carry. Averaged. The red zone offense went backwards.

What positives came out of this game? Well, they still had a chance to win at the end of the game. Unlike last year, this is a team that should be winning ballgames. They can't get more than one or two dimensions to play well on any given week. But it's always different dimensions. This week the defense forced turnovers and the offense threw the ball.

Sticking with the frustrating theme, "due to NFL rules" CBS cannot show the wild ending of the Cleveland-Baltimore game, so I've had to watch the worst studio team in the business stare at a monitor and explain the play-by-play. Then they go to replays and show the play that just finished. Talk about an archaic rule! I suspect this has to do with Fox owning the doubleheader this week and the 49ers laying an egg on Channel 2.

Amazing - there was 10 seconds of silence while Dan Marino and team stared at the monitor that the TV audience cannot see.

Howdy Dammit*

Thanks to a fussy baby, I am no longer with my friends watching the game at Bufalo Wild Wings. Reading Dan's posts, I see I'm not missing much while trying to wrestle down a two year-old for her nap.

Except they'll probably bring JaMarcus in for a series and I'll miss it.

Good Times.

*this is yet another Aggie slogan, seen in the rear windshield of a Ford F-150.

Obviously Stu Is Back In

Hiram Eugene filled in at safety during the last two Vikings drives, but I see it was Schweigert's noodle-armed tackle that Chester Taylor ran through en route to a 38-yard TD.

Our turnover differential is +3 and we're down 19-13. At least it's a game.

Oh by the way - our answer to the Minnesota TD thus far has been Culpepper tripping on first down and Fargas running for -2 yards on second down...


This Raiders team just didn't show up for the first quarter. It's embarrassing. To recap:
  • Stu Schweigert runs right past a TE clearly on a go route and gives up an 80+ yard play
  • Stu then badly misses a tackle on a 10-yard rushing TD
  • The offense comes with bad field position thanks to our utter lack of a return game
  • False start on Gallery sets up an insurmountable obstacle for this offense
  • Our best player has a terrible punt to give the Vikings great field position
  • Vikings march with ease to the goal line (at least one terribly missed tackle by Stu)
  • Then - good news! Asomugha gets his first INT of the year!
  • Ugh - bad news! Asomugha inexplicably tries to bring it out of the end zone and we start on the 2
  • As if by clockwork, Daunte intentionally grounds the ball from the end zone - safety

Now Morrison gets the Raiders' first fumble recovery of the year and Culpepper throws deep to Curry. But so far they've really blown their opportunity with a zero-yard run by Fargas followed up by a 10-yard sack of Daunte.

Last year I would have changed the channel after the safety. This year the team has a way of hanging around so they can screw it up with 5 minutes left in the game. I'm still watching, but I'd sure rather see these guys show up ready to play.

Ah - before I could click "post" the Raiders got a hold and a sack. So since they got to the 5 they ended up forcing SeaBass to kick a 42-yard FG. At least we are on the board.

Dan's Picks

The Raiders will relax a bit on the road and will give Daunte another revenge win - 17-10.

49ers are in a free-fall, and I doubt Dilfer can stop it this week. Rams win 27-10.

I have this bad feeling that I'll see a Bucs-Falcons score late tomorrow and say, "Wow, I didn't have a clue about that one." But I'll stick with the Bucs, 28-20.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Amarillo Showers

Last night, my host Joe Nate decided we needed to go to the liquor store and get some Disaronno. So we drove over to Western Beverages. We walk into the store and it must have been kind of slow because we got some excellent customer service from the guys working there. "Can we help you find something?" "Yeah," Said Joe Nate. "Do you have Disaronno?" "Sure, right over there," said the other one and went to get it. I grabbed a twelver of Pabst out of the cooler and put in on the counter where the other guy says, "I was at the bar the other night, and this dude was drinking amaretto sours all night. By the end of the night he was asking for 'amarillo showers.' I told him, 'buddy, that's some R. Kelly shit right there.' Because you know, that's just fucked up, amarillo showers."

At first I thought this was just some regional joshing, that maybe people down in this part of Texas like to bust on people from Amarillo. But then I remembered from my 4 semesters of high school Spanish that "amarillo" means "yellow."

R. Kelly, indeed.

Friday, November 16, 2007


There was a place I always went to when visiting College Station that had really good pizza rolls. Can't recall the name, but it was a local chain and I always had to be rolled out the door. I think the most intimidated I've ever been when visiting a football stadium was walking into Kyle Field as an Aggie whoop went up. Mostly because it was pretty creepy. And loud.

But that's Texas. This post is about Idaho, which is where we all thought our offensive woes had returned to after last season. Yet here we are at 2-7 with an offense featuring Ronald Curry, Jerry Porter, Justin Fargas, Daunte Culpepper, and Zach Miller. With Curry and Fargas the primary threats to score, it feels a little too much like late last year.

The offensive display against Chicago was not good. Throwing out the final Raiders drive as an anomaly, out of 21 first-down plays, 8 were 1-yard runs by Justin Fargas. The Raider O never overcame a sack to gain a first down, and only once overcame a penalty (that was a half-the-distance-to-the-goal false start on our own 2). This offense can't overcome much adversity at all, and defenses are stacking on early downs knowing that 2nd-and-9 might as well be 3rd-and-20.

Why? At the risk of sounding old fashioned, the Raiders do not have a deep passing threat. Last year the offense was built only to throw long. This year that is the one thing it absolutely cannot do. The most terrifying thing about it is that Kiffin bet the house on Johnnie Lee Higgins, and thus far he hasn't delivered. And if you believe all the theories, Kiffin was hired to rebuild this team around his keen eye for talent.

Don't worry, "I'm in." I think Kiffin has found an offense filled with players not quite good enough, and he's cleaning house. But I'm not sure it was the right move for this season to strip the WR cabinet bare, and now the same seems to be happening at RB with Jordan in sweats, Rhodes returning the odd kick, and Bush not yet in the mix.

Culpepper's back in because at least he can get the ball downfield. Now let's see if we can find a WR who can be there to catch it.

Gig 'Em!

So we're in College Station, TX, home of Texas A&M. We ate dinner tonight at a Mexican Restaurant called Los Norteños. Luckily, we made it through dinner without being attacked by Sureños.

So far, we're having a wonderful time here in the Great State of Texas. The last time I was here--in 1999--I spent three days in Galveston at my uncle's house, an antebellum mansion that he and his psycho wife ran as a bed and breakfast.

That was easily the weirdest three days of my life. My uncle's wife introduced me to her daughter by saying "YOU BETTER NOT FUCK HER, JOHN. She's your COUSIN."

I should point out that this was shocking on a couple of levels. First, it was a surprise that she was my cousin, since my uncle was on his third wife and he had a habit of marrying with women with at least three children. There was never any "It's a Girl!" announcement cards, or baptism invitations, or anything like that. Second, she was thirteen.

Anyway, my aunt also pulled an AR-15 on Mike Shepherd, with whom I was traveling. She ranted at me because the rest of the family in California "ignored" them. We went out to dinner at a Benihana-style Japanese restaurant, where my uncle got shit-faced drunk and started saying the only phrase he knew in Japanese, which translated roughly to "Remember the Big One."

Good times.

So anyway, on this trip, people have been nothing but pleasant. The flight was totally smooth, and one of the stewardesses said to me as we were exiting the plane in Houston, "I hope your Raiders start playing better." I told her I was going to hold my breath. The weather's great, we have plenty of beer, and tomorrow we're hooking up with Dan's brother to smoke a brisket and watch some football. Sunday we're going to a sportsbar so we can watch the Raiders, because we're masochists.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Daunte's Revenge, Numero Dos: John's Picks

I'm about to get on a plane for Texas, which is now the official CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY vacation destination of choice.

Anyway, Tampa rolls ATL 20-6, the newly-healthy Rams destroy the 49ers 31-3 after Nolan finally turns his best offensive weapon, Joe Nedney, loose.

I know I said last week I was never picking the Raiders again, but then two things happened: Adrian Peterson and Josh McCown both got hurt--although it looks like Daunte may have been starting anyway. Daunte leads the Raiders to a victory in the Humphrey Dome, only this time instead of pointing to his knee and flashing the OK sign after scoring, he pretends to row a boat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Inaugural CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY Nancy Gay Memorial Hater of the Week Award

I was reading The Sporting Green in the Chronicle this morning while riding BART. Ray Ratto had a clever column asking Roger Goodell to step in and help fix our two struggling Bay Area teams by combining them. Then I got to Dan's Favorite Football Writer's column on the elite teams of the NFL. It was informative; I learned a lot of new things about what's going on around the league. Who knew that Vince Young needed to be defended by his coach? I didn't get that info from ESPN.

Then, in her last item, she took an incredibly cheap shot:

-- Interesting e-mail of the week: I posed this question last weekend to an NFL general manager - why has Steelers rookie coach Mike Tomlin, 35, shown himself to be a more confident, commanding, respected leader than Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, 32?

Talent aside (particularly at the quarterback position), the GM summed up the difference in a surprisingly succinct way: "Because Mike Tomlin was prepared for the Steelers' job and Lane Kiffin was given the Raiders' job."

This general manager has a point. Tomlin had been the Buccaneers' defensive backs coach from 2001 through '05 and the Vikings' defensive coordinator in '06. He had NFL credibility that his players instantly respected.

Kiffin had been USC's offensive coordinator and shared play-calling duties with Trojans assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian - Al Davis' first choice for the job - in 2005-'06. Before that, he was a position coach on offense at Fresno State, Colorado State and USC, where he also had recruiting coordinator responsibilities.

In retrospect, Kiffin's greatest selling point to the beaten-down Raiders' players was that he wasn't Art Shell.

Really? Which GM did she ask? Isiah Thomas?

Talent aside?

Talent aside?

One more time:


Has anyone ever heard the phrase "Making chicken salad out of chicken shit?" Because what Lane Kiffin's been asked to do in the job he's been "given" is make chicken salad out of bat guano.

The Steelers are a team a year removed from winning the SUPER BOWL. The only key contributor not still on that team is locker room-cancer Joey Porter.

The Raiders haven't won more than 5 games in 5 years now. The only player on the team who played there when the Raiders were good is Barry "False Start" Simms.

So how could talent just be pushed aside when asking that question? I'm not saying Lane Kiffin is a better coach than Omar Epps or anything like that. I'm just saying that Vince Lombardi couldn't win more than 6 games with this Raiders team as currently constructed. Hell, Al Davis circa 1963 couldn't win more than 6 games with this team.

Give the kid a break. He's got Mono. He's trying to rebuild not just a team's talent but an entire culture of losing that goes back at least five years. He was "given" the job because Nobody Else Would Touch it with a Ten Foot Pole. At least nobody whose previous job wasn't turning down sheets in a bed and breakfast.

So congratulations, Nancy. The CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY is naming a new award in your honor:

The CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY Nancy Gay Memorial Hater of the Week Award.

This weeks winner of the inaugural CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY Nancy Gay Hater of the Week Award is:

Nancy Gay

Congratulations, Nancy. You've just been named the winner of the CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY Nancy Gay Memorial Hater of the Week Award. Prizes include scorn heaped upon your head by the members of the Raider Nation, Al Davis never ever saying at your funeral, "Time never stops for the great ones, we give them the CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY," and the wishes of hundreds that you get a parking ticket.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 Power Rankings Disagree with Sllaacs.

I don't know what to make of this except that there must be some kind of anti-Raiders bias at work here.

The 49ers actually move up a spot from #29 to #28, while the Raiders fall from #27 to #29. So in the battle of who sucks the most in the Bay Area, the 49ers are getting a sympathy vote or something, because all of their former coaches have died this year.

Sllaacs Picks a Day Early this Week.

I just got this in my inbox. Hopefully nobody I work with reads this blog and notices what time the posts come.

Dearest John, Unrequited Love of My Life,

When did it all go wrong for the 49ers?

The end of the 2002 Season. Steve Mariucci was not resigned. They followed up this genius move at the end of 2003 by making the biggest blunder when Jeff Garcia was let go. After being blessed with 3 great QB's in a row (HOF'er, HOF'er, Pro-Bowler) we now have two of the same QB; a young Trent Dilfer and the real Trent Dilfer. The niners are screwed for the next two years, at least.

So basically, when John York - Super Dork - took over the team, the niners went to total shit while leaving thier offensive roots behind them - or allowing Mariucci to take them with him - where he lost them in Detroit - anyhow - ever heard of the
West Coast Offense? Consider maybe running that offense - the 49er offense - before you try changing a tradition and establishing some kind of smash-mouth, ball control offense - in California, no less! Smash-mouth is for cold weather teams - ancing up and down the football field like ballerinas is warm weather football. Al Davis still likes to throw deep - and always will. The 49ers should always be a West Coast Offense. Period.

As for the Raiders - I just don't know what to say, except this: as bad as they are offensively, the Niners are worse - so kiss my ass, my team sucks better than your team. At least S.F. can win the distinction of being THE WORST, while the Raiders will fade away to anonymity with their relatively less, total-suck-ass season.

Here are my picks:

Tampa Bay over Atlanta - 24-13. Atlanta is very bad - the Bucs are not.

Raiders beat Minnesota 9 - 6 - No A.P. too bad eh? But that's right, I'm predicting an all field goal game.

Rams will roll S.F. 38 - 16. Bulger and L.J. are back - the Rams may finish 6-10 this year.

Hugs and Kisses,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Cam Inman Breaks it Down

Thank God for MediaNews and its crack team of Raiders reporters. Without them I'd have never been able to blame yesterday's loss on the ref.

Meanwhile, the Chronicle's Hater blog has a lame Walt Whitman parody.

In other news, Adrian Peterson is out of next week's game. So my dilemma is decided for me.


I hate making decisions.

At Least Somebody's a Winner This Week

My fantasy football team, Bubba Malaysia, destroyed Dan's team (Ain't Skeered) by a score of 120.22-109.56. Yes, my fantasy team takes its name from what happens when you plug "John Sousa" into the Ron Mexico Name Generator. It's my ultimate disguise, in case I ever need treatment for Herpes and don't want the Professor to find out.

Bubba Malaysia, which was 2-23 at the same time the Raiders were, has now won 5 straight games and is the hottest team in the Yale Wives Club league (so named because the founders all had wives who went to Yale), thanks to Adrian Peterson's rookie dominance and switching from Carson Palmer to Ben Roethlisberger 4 games ago.

Now I'm facing the ultimate real team/fantasy team conundrum: do I hope Peterson is too hurt to play next week against the Raiders, because he's their only legitimate offensive threat (apparently that's one more than the Raiders possess), or do I hope he gets better because he is certain to gash the Raiders pourous run defense?

Anybody have any answers?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Levels of Suckage: Bears Win 17-6

Awesome 4th Quarter, guys. We made Rex Grossman look like an All-Pro quarterback on the 59-yarder to Berrian.

Great job.

I can't even make any snarky jokes here. The problem is that we are better than last year. Last year we were so horrible that it was kind of funny: every snap to Walter or Brooks was a potential NFL Bloopers highlight. Now we're no longer comically dreadful. We're just bad and, even worse, we're boring. Seriously, name one highlight from the 3rd quarter. You can't. They might as well have not even played it.

Poor McCown. He tries so hard but he's just not that good. He's totally Donald Hollas, Jr. I don't know what the answer is. I just know that we might not win another game, and we could have another Top-5 pick.

I just hope Kiffin is still around to turn JaMarcus loose next year.

3rd Quarter: Still 3-3.

Well, now we know how Devin Hester broke a 63 yard return: the Bears cheat. It was called back on a hold.

Early in the 4th quarter and penalties have us moving backwards.


Halftime: 3-3; Devin Hester is Overrated

That's right. His last two returns went for NEGATIVE yards. Turns out he's not like Steve Smith, where if you trash talk him he destroys you.

Stuart Dorsett Gibson Schweigert has so far had only one horribly missed tackle, so that's good. McCown's not being booed mercilessly, and Carr and Routt are doing pretty good on the corners for Nmamdi and Fabian.

Kirk Morrison is now officially my favorite player. If the Professor happens to read this, I would love to get a number 52 Jersey for Xmas...

1st Quarter: 3-0

McCown seems different this week. He seems more relaxed, more confident. The crowd isn't murdering him, so maybe that helps. That sweet fake hand-off to open the game where he busted off a big run was a good call. And so far Devin Hester hasn't done anything.

Like Dan, I'm optimistic.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


As Ira Miller noted, we care. And that's why last week was so painful. Even at 2-5, the Raiders were better this year. At 2-6 after making Ron Dayne look 21 again and with Kiffin fishing Tim Dwight out of retirement to return kicks, to give us a deep threat, and maybe to line up at RB once the crash test dummy goes down, optimism is waning.

But that is going to change - as long as we don't read the schedule too closely - this week in a soggy Coliseum! Mistakes will go down (seems to be the only way they can go), and Gerard Warren will make enough of an impact to keep Cedric Benson from moving out of the last place yards-per-carry position Ron Dayne bumped him into last week. The Raiders' running game will thrive in the mud, and it all adds up to a 27-19 Raider victory.

I have an unhealthy level of fantasy interest in Monday night's 49ers-Seahawks game. The 49ers have looked like a mess ever since Mike Nolan set up an anonymous ideas box and started asking for offensive Hints from Heloise. In theory this could turn out to be a better game than advertised, but the Seahawks are well ahead of the 49ers in terms of adapting to a major letdown from their franchise player, so they will win 24-14.

As for Steelers-Browns, perhaps this will develop into the great rust belt rivalry it once was. Wait, that was the Steelers and the Ravens. But they were called the Browns. At any rate, this game will surely feature the fewest helmet logos in the league. Each offense is good enough to win a shootout, but only one defense is good enough to make a shootout unlikely. Steelers win, 34-24.

And finally, in my for-amusement-purposes-only fantasy league, 6-3 Ain't Skeered will take it to 6-3 Bubba Malaysia 119-104.


Thanks Jerry.


The R Word

As John has pointed out, it's clear that the Raiders are rebuilding. On a daily basis, Kiffin now utters the telltale phrases rarely heard in past Alameda administrations, such as:

"We're still trying to figure out this team. It's our first year together, we've played (eight) games together, and we're still learning about players. That's what you do your first year."

So what are we learning, and do we have reason for optimism next year? A week ago I would have said yes. Now my answer is, "Ask me again on Sunday night." The Houston game was such a step back that I've been searching all week for reasons why we should throw it out as an anomaly. Each drive was so tenuous that it could be destroyed by one false start. Small mistakes led immediately to big ones as McCown struggled to throw down field and was intercepted repeatedly. The run defense flat-out never showed up, and stopping the Texans on third down seemed impossible. It was not fun to watch. But in the context of this rebuilding year, one play made me stand up and tap the "I'm in" sign: Janikowski's record-breaking FG attempt. Sure, it led to a short drive for Houston to extend their lead by 3 before half, but the upside was huge. Even watching the towering kick bang off the right upright was inspiring.

Is it sad that our bright spot is the kicking game? Yes, although to be fair the sport is called "foot" ball.

What is clear from Kiffin's handling of the rest of the roster is he was not at all impressed by the talent level he inherited. The receiving corps was gutted. The O-line was completely remade. At QB Kiffin started over, and now even Jordan has landed on the bench. The defense got a free pass on the basis that it was rarely challenged last year, but this year has exposed the deficiencies against the run that were feared. Rebuilding will take the draft, free agency, and signs of growth through the rest of the year.

Kiffin's first draft, as McDonald describes, gets an incomplete grade at best. Free agency (including trades) has not gone well: Dominic Rhodes, Terdell Sands, Donovin Darius, Mike Williams, Josh McCown, Travis Taylor - ouch. Those led to panic moves to sign Culpepper, Warren, and Dwight, with mixed results. Even Justin Griffith is losing some reps to Oren O'Neal. One might argue that the O-line moves brought success with Newberry, Carlisle, and Green - but while a significant improvement over last year, this group has had plenty of ups and downs.

So what do we look for in the wake of the Texans game? There are a lot of individuals auditioning for next year, but the Raiders have to make progress on the basics this week. Establish the run, stop the run, and cut out the mistakes. As for everything else? Ask me again on Sunday night.

Friday, November 9, 2007

John's Week 10 Picks

I don't know what to think this week. Sllaacs picking the Raiders to win has me seriously discombobulated. I was all set to pick against the Raiders as a means of reverse-jinxing them (at least until the Denver game, which I have tickets to and will be the first time I get to see them in person this year--lame for a Raiders blogger, I know, but shit, man, preschool and diapers and chocolate milk are expensive) but now I think Sllaacs may have done it for me.

That's right, see, because the Raiders are bad enough this year, and so obviously rebuilding that they can't be jinxed. They were jinxed the minute Walt Coleman pulled the Tuck Rule out of his polyp-riddled asshole, which led to Chuckie's bouncing and subsequent trouncing of our boys in Super Bowl Who-gives-a-shit-that-was-the-worst-day-of-my-sports-watching-life.

I know Griese sucks, but he was 5-3 against us when he was with the Donkeys, the Three losses coming in the '01 and '02, Chuckie's last year when he finally ended the losing streak and the Super Bowl year, when Rod Woodson took that pick back 96 yards to the house. Point being, when Griese played on those good Donkey teams against horrible or rebuilding Raiders teams, he won. (Check out his stats, you can see Denver's W-L records by clicking on the team name next to the year.)

This is clearly a rebuilding year. But you know what? Fuck it. Sllaacs is right about this one. No Tank Johnson means Huggie Jr. is running his ass off Sunday. Plus, I had a dream the other night that Josh McCown was getting cheered by the home crowd after throwing a touchdown pass early. Raiders win 17-14.

I was thinking that the Niners owned the Artists Formerly Known as the Gulls (when they were in the AFC West), but that was last year when everyone was optimistic about this year's team making the playoffs. Now, they're a mess. Even Sllaacs is asking for Derek Anderson next year. Seattle wins, 21-9, even though Shaun Alexander doesn't play well because his man-gina is sore.

As for the Cleveland/Pittsburgh game, if you think Cleveland is winning this game than you're an idiot. I benched Carson Palmer for Ben Roethlisberger--permanently--on my fantasy squad a couple of weeks and I haven't lost since. If he put up 5 TDs in the first half against the Ravens last week (although, while watching that 75th anniversary celebration at halftime on Monday night, I couldn't help but think that somewhere, Al Davis and John Madden were throwing up bile), he might put up 8 against Cleveland. There's no way the Steelers lose this game. Pittsburgh wins 38-27.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Week 10 Apocalypse: Sllaacs Picks the Raiders!

From my Inbox this morning:

Dear Asshat,

This week I will take the following the following stances:

Raiders vs. Chicago

I will take Oakland in this game - am I crazy? Probably, but Brian Griese is not much better than the Bay Area quarterbacks, and the Raiders do have a run game. Kiffin starting Culpepper would make me feel better about choosing the Raiders, but I could see Josh McNown/Cade McCown - now which is it? - finding a way to make
enough plays against the suck-ass Bears. 20-17 Oakland.

Niners vs. Seattle

The Niners will win this one - why? Because Seattle sucks - they
do - and the whole world will know it when they scan over the
boxscore in the papers on Tuesday. No one will watch, but S.F. will
beat the Seahawks asses in thier own house, on Monday Night Football, no less. 17 - 9 S.F.

Cleveland vs. Pittsburg

Okay, so I took a leap on those two predictions, but what the hell. There is a small movement among Niner fans to try and snatch up Derek Anderson from Cleveland as a free agent this offseason - since the Browns drafted that QB - who is it, Brady Quinn? It would cost the Niners a 1st and 3rd round pick, so Cleveland would probably welcome the exchange. In that spirit, I will pick the only compelling game this week; Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland. Today, the Steelers are favored by a whopping 9 1/2 points. Any gambler would take Cleveland's high octane offense and the points. I will take Cleveland outright - to win on the road 34 - 30.



So far the sky is still up.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Trib is Brutal

I know that the writers who cover the Raiders for MediaNews (Oakland Tribune, CC Times, and Mercury News) aren't haters (well, except for maybe Ann "JaMarcus is a Fatty" Killion). We know the haters work at the Chronicle.

So when I read this column by Carl Steward, and read this column by Jerry McDonald, which includes the quote, "Kiffin tried as best he could to look for silver linings, but sounded a lot like Norv Turner and Art Shell in stressing how hard his team is playing," I get sick to my stomach.

To quote and old Hertz Commercial, "Brutal, Juice. Brutal." (If anyone has a link to that commercial, stick a url in the comments and I'll link it here!)

On second thought...maybe that sick-to-my-stomach feeling is from the two free breakfast samiches I ate this morning after the meeting. Who knows how long those bastards were sitting out.

Anyway, maybe what's going on here, what Kiffin is alluding to without saying because the word is FORBIDDEN by Al Davis, much like Lord Voldemort's name is taboo in the Harry Potter books, is...


That's why Jordan's being phased out and told Steward to talk to Kiff. That's why he doesn't want JaMarcus to get smashed and killed and "rebuilt" next year when he's used to losing.

I think he used that word on purpose, in that context, to send a message to us, without having to spell out "Hey, dumbasses, we're REBUILDING here." God knows we need it. All we've been "reloading" the last few years is a broken ass weapon.

So, I'm IN.

Sorry I doubted you, coach.

Kiffin Responds

Okay, so I wasn't there to ask him this question directly. And I pretty much guaruntee he is not a CLOAK OF IMMORTALITY reader. But anyway, here's what he said about playing JaMarcus:

"I think about playing JaMarcus all the time. I thought about playing him when we were down by 14," Kiffin said. "That dosn't mean it's what we're going to do. This isn't about this year when you look at everything. You've got to make sure JaMarcus is ready to play. This is our franchise. This is the guy you gave a lot of money to, the first pick overall.

"You better make sure you have the right stuff around him, and he's ready to play at the right time, he knows what he's doing. You don't want to have to rebuild him. This is a guy who's not used to losing. This is a guy who's not used to offense not playing well around him. The last thing you want to do with him is put him in when he's not ready.

"Now you've got to rebuild him, his mentality. You've got to get him out of bad habits because he's playing with certain habits because he's not ready."

I think what he's saying, basically, is that he doesn't want to put JaMarcus in there with the remnants of the Dumbest Team in America in Terms of How We Play the Game.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dear Lane Kiffin

I know you've seen all of this tape, because you guys drafted him. You wouldn't have done that if you didn't think he could play. I know you're only 32, and this is your first head coaching job, and that Mr. Davis ultimately decided to draft JaMarcus. But I read somewhere before the draft where you described him as "like the guys in the video games, who can make all the plays." I knew right then that JaMarcus Russell was going to the QB of the Oakland Raiders if you had anything to say about it.

I know it's not your fault that he missed training camp. But he was there for all of the mini-camps, and he's been here now for 8 weeks.

Look at that film again, and look at what you've getting from your quarterbacks the last 4 weeks. If the veterans are going to be turning the ball over and losing games, what good does that do anybody?

Maybe you're worried that what happened to Andrew Walter last year, when he got hit so much he was jealous of David Carr's protection, and lost all of his confidence, will happen to JaMarcus.

JaMarcus Russell is no Andrew Walter. And the line isn't as bad.

If I have one Raiders-related fantasy this week, it's this:

JaMarcus goes into your office and DEMANDS the job. Says he's going to start earning his $31 Million by taking the ball and leading this team. Sure, maybe he takes some lumps and has his share of turnovers.

Seriously, though, Coach. You need him. The fans can take losing with JaMarcus if he's showing promise. What we can't take is seeing poor Josh McCown doing a Donald Hollas impersonation. We can't stand Daunte Culpepper, God Bless him, stand 8 yards behind the center and then throw the ball to the other team.

There's 8 games left.

I'm In.

Are you?

Local Programming

I've traveled all the way to Texas to avoid the Raiders' blackout and Austin local TV is playing neither game that interests me: Texans-Raiders and Packers-Chiefs. Apparently Houston's slow start and Longhorn Vince Young's winning ways have shifted Austin back to being an Oilers town. I guess Young out-rates Huff 'round these parts. At least the sports bar won't black out the Raiders.

The big question today will be whether the Raiders' running game reappears. The combination of a QB who can take snaps from under center and facing a less-daunting defensive front should help, as should LaMont's improving back and Fargas' increasing involvement. But what is the explanation for Rhodes not getting involved? And how will Bush factor?

It's pretty obvious that Kiffin wants the Raiders to be a running team given that backfield and the total lack of depth at WR. It does seem a bit odd to be so thin - Dwight arrives this week as the #4 - in an area that was so deep during camp.

I look forward to the Raiders turning the corner at 3 pm Central today.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

This. Is. War.

Say Hello to Iggy Pup, skunk magnet.

That's right. Again. Tonight.

According to this website, "the stench is too powerful for most animals to bear, and serves as a deterrent against future attacks."

So that means that Iggy is either a badass who is not deterred by anything, or the stupidest dog who ever lived.

I was upstairs giving Baby Lily a bath when I hear The Professor through the floor say, "GOD DAMMIT."

The Professor's screaming Profanities and Baby Lily keeps trying to throw water on me--water she's no doubt peed in--and I'm trying to yell at her to stop splashing and listen to what The Professor is yelling at me all at the same time and it turns out I just don't possess that particular Super Power.

Since Baby Lily's busy pouring all of the water out her bath, one Giants Souvenir Beer Cup at a time, I figure the chances of her drowning while I head to the balcony to check on The Professor are pretty low.

As soon as I open the door to the balcony, it hits me. That chemical-burn stench. The next time I get in a snaps contest, your mom's vagina smells like skunk. Seriously.

Anyway, The Professor asks if I can see it, but I can't see shit because 1. it's dark down there, and 2. my eyes are closed to protect them from burning.

While The Professor douses Iggy down with the last of the Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover, I get Baby Lily rinsed off and out of the tub.

The Professor comes upstairs and I say to her, "Hey babe. You're a Yale-trained historian. You've conducted research at some of the finest archives in the world. Is there any chance that while you were looking at old diaries of scabies-ridden gold prospectors in the 1850s, or Indian laborers on Mexican-era Rancheros in the Northern Central Valley, that you came across a method of skunk removal and/or repellent?"

She mumbles something, the only word of which I can make out is "asshole," and sits down and puts her prodigious research skills to work on Google.

So she found another site that suggested you line your fence with chicken wire and bury it a good six or eight inches so those stank-nasty sons of bitches can't dig into your yard.

So listen up, you foul-smelling bastard. I have a Home Depot credit card and I'm not afraid to use it. I'm putting up some fence tomorrow morning. And if that doesn't work, maybe I'll hire some day laborers to go on a skunk hunt. $15 a pelt.

And free Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Removal.

Bruce Jenkins is a Better Writer than John.

His 3 Dot Lounge column today expresses eloquently what I think I was trying to express with my too-long post yesterday that got me into an argument with Dan.

Besides, I don't think I even finished. McCown will lead the Raiders to a 20-17 victory. I think either Morrison or Howard adds a defensive touchdown.

One question though. If Daunte's not a good fit for this offense because the complementary players were added in anticipation of McCown playing the whole season, what's going to happen when JaMarcus gets out there? All the talk was of JaMarcus being a bigger, faster Daunte-in-his- prime, right? So is it just that Daunte can't run any more? I really think JaMarcus is going to be a good quarterback in this league, and for the Raiders. I'm not in a hurry to see him get maimed, but a series or two, at the end of a half for a Hail Mary when the defense is playing 6 DBs and the LBs are dropped into coverage couldn't hurt. This isn't last year, when our O-line couldn't even block 3 rushers.

Please tell me we've improved that much.

Friday, November 2, 2007

This Deserves a Post

I was about to leave this as a comment, but this is a blog after all!

So how am I wrong about the Patriots being convicted, proven cheaters? And did Bob Harlan throw them out of Lambeau because he moonlighted as their cameraboy after letting Ron Wolf leave the Packers?

These Patriots are being "hated on" because they are hypocrites, quite the opposite of the Raiders. Al Davis is an outlaw, and people love him or hate him. Bob Kraft is the ultimate NFL insider who has positioned his team as the NFL's model franchise. One could argue Tags rewarded him through Walt Coleman in the 2002 version of Good vs. Evil. So now the Pats are busted for cheating in blatant fashion, Kraft calls it "unacceptable" within the context of his model franchise...and nothing changes. For every article calling the Patriots evil there have been 10 written since 2002 extolling their many virtues. But public perception turns quickly when people realize you are a fraud. I've actually been surprised at how quickly this whole scandal has blown over for the Patsies. The "running up the score" issue is the only thing bringing it back to the conversation.

Just Win, Baby.

I've been thinking about this for a while, ever since Gregg Easterbrook wrote his "Good Vs. Evil" column last week. I thought about it even harder watching "Inside the NFL" on HBO the other night, which seemed to devote the entire first half of the show to the upcoming game, even splicing together an NFL Films Mega-Highlight with both the New England/Washington and Indianapolis/Carolina tilts, complete with a panel discussion about whether or not the Patriots are running up the score and an interview with former Chargers/current Patriots Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau.

I'm going to take these in reverse order, starting with Junior and Rodney. Actually, I really only want to talk about Rodney Harrison, since I've always respected Junior and I feel bad for him that his house burned down last week.

The thing about the Patriots that has bugged the shit out of me--other than the Tuck Rule, which we'll get to later--during their run of success this decade is the sense that they're so good, and so well-coached by Belichick and well-led by Tom Brady that they can bring in any malcontent or headcase and not just rehabilitate them but turn them into team leaders. We saw it with Corey Dillon, we're seeing it now with Randy Moss.

But the one that galls me the most is Rodney Harrison. I'm not saying he's not a good player. And I'm not even saying that the sinner-to-saint narrative I've just described is not valid, because in a way, it is. But even after his HGH suspension (and what it is it with players with connections to the Chargers and performance-enhancing drugs?), he's still considered an elder statesman. The Rodney Harrison I remember with San Diego was the dirtiest player in the league. Just ask Tim Brown, who was the victim of attempted murder every time he went over the middle for a pass. Now because he's on the Patriots and he's won a Super Bowl he's a hero?

The thing about this sinner-to-saint narrative is that it's not sinner-to-saint at all; it's sinner-to-sinner-who-wins-a-lot-football-games. Randy Moss isn't all of a sudden a team leader. He'll never be a leader--he sure as hell wasn't when he was in here in Oakland. But surround him by ballers, and he's all-world.

As for running up the score, that's just ridiculous. Everybody asked on Inside the NFL agreed that it wasn't; I even found myself agreeing with Cris Carter who said, basically, if you don't want them running up the score, stop them. BLITZ their asses. As John Clayton points out in his sidebar on the Raiders vs Steelers in the 1970s in the "In Their Own Words..." article at

Bill Belichick wouldn't have gotten away with running up scores in the 1970s,
when the Raiders and Steelers were battling each other for AFC superiority. From
the physical play on the field to the verbal and legal battles off of it,
Steelers-Raiders was great drama.

Which brings me to the TMQ column. He takes great pains to make sure everyone knows why Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning are the epitome of everything that is good about America and why they should be beloved, and how Belichick, et. al. are the epitome of everything we should hate.

But he's wrong. And, sorry, Dan, but you're wrong, too. If the Patriots deserve an asterisk next to their dynasty, it's courtesy of Walt Coleman, not the "cheating" scandal. You know how Eric Mangini (and can his nickname be officially changed from "Man-genius" to Man-gina?) knew that camera was there? Because he used to work for Belichick. Shit, he probably started out as camera boy before working his way up to coordinator.

The point I'm getting at here is that Easterbrook made me kind of like this Patriots team, because the words he used to describe them in his column--arrogance, hubris--are words that people use to describe Al Davis. Who do you think invented not speaking to the media? I can't help but to think that the way the Patriots are destroying teams right now, with Randy catching everything in a 10-yard radius, is what he envisioned when he brought Randy here in the first place. The problem is that he brought him to play for Norv Turner, and then for Art Shell and Tom "My Own Private Idaho" Walsh. Just like the Raiders were the team everyone hated in the 70s, accused of being part of a "Criminal Element," the Patriots are being piled on and hated on now.

So I think New England wins this Sunday. I wouldn't even be surprised if they blow Indy out. It reminds me of when Michael Spinks fought Mike Tyson on my birthday in 1987. Everyone was so desperate for someone to beat Mike Tyson that they were talking themselves into things like "Well, Spinks never LOST his crown," and "finally someone who can put Iron Mike in his place." He got smoked in 90 seconds, and my dad was pissed that he paid $45 for that just because it's what I wanted for my birthday. Seriously, that was my worst birthday present ever. And from then on I decided if someone looks clearly dominant, it's because they ARE.

So, NE wins, 31-24, with Indy making it look close with a couple of late TDs.

The Niners will win a...err, dogfight in Atlanta, 13-9.

And the Raiders, with McCown under center and Fargas rushing for a buck-fifty. Sllaacs is already wrong about Daunte getting sacked.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Houston, YOU Have a Problem

I hope to see that T-shirt on my brother's back when I travel to Texas this weekend to visit him while escaping the Bay Area blackout. I'm not sure they are even showing the game in Texas. At least the trip should provide an opportunity to help build my 3-month-old niece's love for the Silver & Black.

So after a close loss to the Oilers, the Raiders are turning to Sam Houston State alum Josh McCown to face the Replacement Oilers. I tend to agree with McDonald - it's the right move. While it caused a lot of controversy, Gannon was merely pointing out the obvious while discussing the eternity it seemed to take for Daunte to get out from under Newberry. That and an expanded playbook should help the O-line return to form. Or at least not facing three of the NFL's top defensive fronts should help.

After 7 games things are a bit weird for the Raiders. We are vastly improved from last year, yet we have won just as many games. We are carrying more QBs than WRs on the roster. Justin Fargas is the best RB on a roster including LaMont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes, and Michael Bush. The defense has suddenly arrived while continuing to fail against the run - and now our best run stopper is on IR. But at this point we have to start winning, and one can argue that we've lost a lot of close games against some pretty decent competition. So I am going with the Raiders over the Texans 27-17. Curry will catch 10 passes and LaMont will get back in the end zone. The defense will give up some rushing yards but will cause multiple turnovers. I will wear my Lester Hayes home jersey in Texas.

Is it just me or are 49ers ads the worst? Fittingly, they are a huge disappointment this year, but not as disappointing as a Falcons team playing out the season on "Bernard" Petrino's free pass. I'm willing to go 49ers 17 - Falcons 14 in a shocking upset.

Can someone tell me what the graphics near each sideline at the 50-yard line in Gillette Stadium are supposed to be? I think I knew this at some point (and sure I could look it up), but it looks like a facemask sticking out of a volcano, and I just can't get past that. As for the big hypefest, New England is most certainly studying video of Indy's defensive signals from January's game, and that will help them to a 34-30 victory on the road. No matter how many games they win, nothing can change the fact that the New England Patriots are convicted cheaters.

David Fleming is a Hater

Al Davis does not appreciate the snide tone of your "HALF SHOCKED" entry in today's half-assed column.

Week 9 Picks

From Sllaacs:

So we got crazy hype regarding the upcoming Colts and New England game - I, of course, have already picked the Colts to win outright - fuck the spread. Peyton Manning has been 7 - 0 for three straight years. Besides, the Colts are still the Champions.

Okay, so Houston sucks, but they will still manage to score at least 13
points against the Raiders, which is 7 more than Oakland will put on the board. Look for Culpepper to try and scramble, not make it, get tackled for loss.

The Falcons are super garbage, with no QB, defense or Special Teams - I mean, they have dudes that play those positions, but not for long - they'll all soon be driving beer trucks. The 49ers have got to feel like they can put up the 17 points it will take to "outscore" the ATL. 17 - 9 Niners.