Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meaningless Observations

For some reason I watched the majority of last night's game. Maybe it was the drama of a few guys battling to make the team. Maybe it was the comedy value of guys fresh off the streets trying to slow down Mike Holmgren's backup offense. Maybe I needed something to look at while having a beer on the couch.

There was a lot of bad, starting with the HD Channel 2 production. Wow. Everything from audio to replays to sideline/booth communications was off. They couldn't even figure out how to cut to commercials. The play of the defense was mostly worse. Jon Alston and Chris Johnson might even make the team. Michael Waddell and Marviel Underwood were comically bad. And I'm afraid Fresno State's Sam Williams is going to lose his scholarship. He often turned up in the right place, but his tackling was atrocious, particularly for a guy who was in the conversation for a starting spot when camp began.

On offense, Super Mario continues to struggle, being burned in highly visible fashion to allow a sack and lost fumble on poor old Andrew Walter. And you had to feel sorry for Arman Shields, a fourth rounder this year who has missed most of training camp while on the trainer's table, endured Kiffin's public complaints and doubts, and then stepped into this game and dropped passes and ran the wrong routes. A classic preseason moment was James Lofton and Greg Knapp taking turns ripping Shields on the sideline after a blown route. Poor guy. At least he had one fairly spectacular sideline catch. His celebration let out a lot of pent up frustration.

But there was good, and it has to start with McFadden who averaged a healthy 12.5 yards per carry on 4 runs, two of which have me fired up to watch him against the Broncos' sorry run defense. The new fullback Lawton looked impressive catching balls out of the backfield. I recall reading some comment on the Lawton acquisition complaining that the Raiders are giving up on the passing game entirely. Obviously the commentator doesn't know the Raiders or Lawton very well.

What else? Chaz Schilens looked pretty good as a receiver. Todd Watkins was good and bad - he was getting open, at least. Michael Bush looked solid, and even Johnnie Lee Higgins busted a good kickoff return.

So the takeaway from the game is that the Raiders aren't deep, but we do have some bright spots. I had to laugh when Mark Ibanez came on and said if everyone has a little Raider in them, then everyone should be very concerned after this game. But besides depth, how does sitting all 22 starters have anything to do with what we'll see in the regular season?

I guess everyone has a right to project 3 wins after what we've seen the last 5 seasons. The good news is we get to start watching real games next week.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I just watched the first few minutes of the Raiders' "meaningless" fourth preseason game, and let me just say I hope no one (else) gets injured this year. No one on this backup defense can tackle. It makes me sick to my stomach that Chris Johnson may actually make this team wearing #37.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sllaacs Predicts greatness for GS this NBA Season... No he doesn't.

I predict that the Golden State Warriors will charge out of the blocks this upcoming NBA Season, led by Monta Ellis, their up-and-coming combo-guard. The Warriors will get a jump start on 50 wins and Ellis will make everyone forget about Baron Davis, and other Warrior "Greats" who were always too injured, too often. After an off-season of point-guard heavy workouts, Monta Ellis is ready to lead this team to the playoffs and he will dominate in November on his way to... Wait, this just in:

"Nearly two months after the Warriors lost point guard Baron Davis
to free agency, his heir apparent, Ellis, had surgery for a torn deltoid
ligament Wednesday morning after sustaining a severe high ankle sprain
working out and will be sidelined for at least three months. The Warriors
open the season against New Orleans on Oct. 29.
Ellis, who a month ago signed a six-year, $66 million contract extension,

injured himself last Thursday in his hometown of Jackson, Miss. The ankle
will be immobilized for six weeks and then Ellis will spend six weeks
undergoing rehabilitation before he will even step on the court with a
basketball in his hands - meaning he will miss at least one month of the
regular season and possibly two."

-SF Chronicle, E-mail Vittorio Tafur at

On second thought: Regarding the Playoffs? Forget it. The Warriors are gonna suck.

P.S. To Oakland Raiders Fans everywhere, a movie quote, on behalf of all San Francisco 49ers Fans, the world over:

'Fuck yo Do Rag. Fuck, Yo Do Rag.' - Alpa Chino, Tropic Thunder

- Sllaacs

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Hater of the Week: Gary Peterson

Granted, he beat me to the punch. But this one is going to be tough to beat!

The original article is here. I think Kiffin wants to win, and my previous post muses whether the Arizona game was his attempt to maintain control over his own ability to do so. Peterson makes the opposite argument, that Kiffin is just denigrating the talent on the team so he doesn't look so bad when the team goes down in flames.

I think Peterson's hate-mailers have a point. To make the assertion that someone is taking a dive is pretty extreme, and as a fan, it's the last thing you want to hear before the season even starts.

Well, the next to last thing besides, "It's fishy around here, man, so, actually, we're walking on eggshells around here, man."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is Preseason Over Yet?

Just something to discuss while we digest the news that Drisan James has been cut and the Chronicle freaks out about Michael Bush getting a few reps at fullback.

Remember when Warren Sapp talked about those mysterious phone calls received on the sideline during game days? Given the state of the Kiffin-Davis relationship, might Kiffin's offensive Arizona game plan have been designed to reduce those calls? He announced to the world that he was going to throw-throw-throw, he didn't install anything elaborate for McFadden, so it's really no wonder that Arizona put four guys on Zach Miller and blitzed with abandon.

After the game, Kiffin made it clear that "throw first" not only plays to the Raiders' weakness on offense, but also eliminates the cut-block running game's strength of tiring out the opponent. Granted, it's pretty obvious what the Raider offense's strength is and what it is not. But this seemed a little like an experiment set up to fail followed by a public explanation of why it failed and why it would fail in the regular season.

I remember reading that during Norv Turner's regime the game plan would often change at the last minute once edits had come down from upstairs. I also recall reading that Jon Gruden used to prepare detailed film evidence to argue against such edits, and that the approach worked. Perhaps this was Kiffin's chance to build some film evidence to put in Al's mind so that the call to unleash the $60 million arm would not come so early in regular season games.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Good Bye, Coop, and Good Luck

According this blog post by Jason Jones, Jarrod Cooper wasn't so much cut as he retired.

Money quote:

Here's Kiffin on Jarrod Cooper's decision to retire this morning:

"Cooper came in this morning and just decided that it was time. He played (seven) years in the league, has had three knee surgeries, he's never regained his speed on this last surgery, that was obvious in the preseason games. Whether we would have released him or not, that is really irrelevant. He came in and was just done playing and wanted to retire. He said bye to everybody. We wish him the best. He's a really neat guy who has done a lot of things here, has a lot of relationships with a lot of the players here. It maybe even something that we keep him involved during the season, coming in on Wednesdays during the special teams meetings, being around the guys and working with the young guys as well."

I'm glad to hear that they'll keep Coop around in some fashion. The guy played balls out every time he was on the field. Off the field, he was as good a guy as you'll hear about in professional sports, as this Jason Jones story about his work rehabilitating dogs showed.

If you can read that story and not like the guy, then, as Tommy Lasorda might say, you don't like Christmas and Easter. The Raiders are a better organization for having a guy like him on the team, and the Bay Area is a better place having someone like Coop living here. (Yes, I know he was serving a suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. But I've never read a story about Koren Robinson or Leonard Little--who actually killed a person driving drunk--where they did something positive on their suspensions. Coop showed accountability and class and became a better person.)

Good luck, Coop. If you ever do become a veterinarian, you've got a customer.

JT Who?

VitaminWater should be reimbursed. But not the Yorks. Suckers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Better on TV

If not for Carter's and O'Neal's injuries, I would be feeling ok about this game after watching the tape delayed TV broadcast. The offense looked "close" on a lot of plays, including TD receptions in the end zone, McFadden runs, and Walker catch-and-runs. The starting defensive backfield looks terrific, both in coverage and in run support. Tommy Kelly showed flashes. Jay Richardson looked reasonably good. And a few backups made plays, notably Kalimba Edwards and Tyvon Branch (on special teams).

The biggest problems with the starters seem to be an inability to pick up the blitz and surprisingly poor LB pursuit in some situations. Also scary is our lack of depth on defense. The silver lining to that one is that most of Arizona's big plays on scoring drives came by exploiting guys like Michael Waddell and Chris Johnson - players who hopefully never sniff the field in the regular season.

Regardless, one never really knows what the preseason means. In Art Shell's recent season the Raiders won twice as many games in preseason as in the regular season.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dark Clouds

Bad news regarding Oren O'Neal and Drew Carter. Both are apparently out for the season, striking a major blow to an offense that really struggled tonight.

At least now we have plenty of room on the roster for Johnnie Lee Higgins.

Gotta love preseason.

Looking for Silver Linings

That will be the point of watching the TV broadcast.

It was only a 3-0 deficit at half, and the Raiders passed up (or screwed up) a few FG opportunities. Most of the huge runs came after half, but names like Kelly, Sands, and Warren were still being announced. Perhaps it indicates just how shallow our defense is beyond the starting 11.

JaMarcus completed fewer passes and took more sacks as the game progressed. Why?

Not Sounding Good

I am suffering through the AM radio broadcast of the game, and there isn't a lot to get me excited for the film at 10. Perhaps the Javon Walker sighting (4 receptions, 60 yards) and the three INTs against Leinart will be fun to watch. And JaMarcus started the game on fire, but went downhill from there.

The run defense does not sound improved. Arizona has mostly shredded this unit. The pass offense has been inconsistent, and it sounds like JaMarcus hasn't had his most accurate night.

JaMarcus is now in for a second drive in the second half. Kiffin sounded very upset about the offense coming out of the locker room at half. JaMarcus just hit Watkins to convert on 3rd...let's hope the momentum builds.

Waiting for Tape Delay

We should be used to tape delay after weeks of Olympic "spoilers." While watching track & field and unfortunately already aware of the disastrous results, I couldn't help but think of Al's love for Olympic sprinters at the WR position as the US men's 4x100 relay team dropped the baton in qualifying. It looked painfully familiar.

So tonight we will watch to see whether any of the current Raider WRs can get open and catch. The good news is that Walker and Carter welcome the attention. The bad news...well, all visual evidence so far suggests they shouldn't. Making this more difficult will be the tantalizing presence of a disgruntled Anquan Boldin, one of my favorite WRs in the league.

Run defense is another area of focus for tonight's game. I'm afraid we may have to discount positive results, however, given the stagnant Arizona running game. But we can look to the details - Kelly blowing up lanes, Sands staying low and eating up blockers, Morrison running free, Wilson plugging gaps, etc. Based on the Tennessee game, long runs continue to be a problem for this defense, so it would be nice to see them eliminate those tonight.

Johnnie Lee Higgins. This guy is under my microscope. He has thus far proven to be worthless as a WR, yet somehow we've stuck ourselves with him as the only viable returner on the team. (Is it even worth pining for Carr in light of our thin CB ranks? Of course not.) If JLH does something dumb - again - tonight, then it's time to look to the scrap heap for a punt returner and give Schilens a roster spot.

The offensive line should be interesting to watch tonight given the pass-heavy game plan and extended playing time for both JaMarcus and the OL starters. I'm not yet a Kwame believer, but Cable is, publicly, which is at least nice to read. And Gallery's continued improvement, along with Grove's potential to take over at Center, makes for heartwarming TV.

Saving the best for last, I really look forward to watching JaMarcus tonight. He is beginning to look like a starting quarterback. Maybe we'll even get an Al Pleaser to the deep post, just for fun.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tim Brown vs. Michael Irvin

Jerry McDonald has some interesting quotes from Tim Brown in his blog today regarding Michael Irvin and trash he's been talking about Gene Upshaw:

...Brown seemed disgusted by former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin.

“I’m sitting down here in Dallas and listening to Michael Irvin talk about the man like he was the worst man to ever walk on this earth, and it’s just incredible folks can be so ignorant about what Gene has done,” Brown said. “It’s sad that a guy like Michael Irvin, who was saved by Gene Upshaw, whether he wants to believe it or not, several times, in his career, for him to not be able to see the good that Gene did for him.”

Love it. While I always enjoyed Irvin's work on Sunday Countdown, his crackhead ass owes career to Gene Upshaw. If the Player's Union hadn't been as strong as it was, do in no small part to Upshaw's organizational prowess, Irvin would have spent the majority of his career suspended.

Timmy was always my favorite Raider. He played with class and pride, which he continues to exhibit in his post-football career. Michael Irvin is the opposite of that.

Pillaging Just for Fun

Nice new billboard at the corner of Geneva and Mission, in San

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dangerous Game

Jason Jones and Jerry McDonald both have blog posts regarding Lance Kiffin mouthing off in the media about the lack of competition in training camp. Mike Lombardi mentioned yesterday in his Diner News blog item.

The consensus seems to be that Kiff is approaching this season with a nothing-to-lose strategy, controlling what he can control while poking his finger in Al's eye every chance he can. Jerry says that the only way Kiffin saves his job is by winning, which he figures still trumps everything in Mr. Davis' world. Lombardi agrees, although he's not exactly holding his breath that winning is an option, House-Divided-Against-Itself, etc.

I'm nervous. I like Kiffin, and the impact he's making on the offense, and getting rid of malcontents, and players like Nmamdi buying into his program. It makes me sick to think of JaMarcus--no matter what dobolina says, I think he's got once-in-a-generation skills--being wasted under a succession of incompetent coaching regimes, bouncing from system to system and never settling into a good one. I think he's in a good one now.

If Kiffin is fired, and Lofton or even Ryan is hired, with Knapp and Cable retained, then it could I guess it could be okay.

But if they all leave...well, we're fucked. And I'm afraid the Davis haters may be right (looking nervously for lightning) and he's completely gone, and we'll just have to wait until he's dead.

I just want to be excited for a season, without worrying when the other shoe is going to drop. Is that too much to ask?


Don't know how we missed this, but ESPN had an online fan poll asking who is the Greatest Raider Ever. Marcus Allen won a dominating victory with 54.7%. The great Tim Brown, for whom I'd have voted had I been paying attention and noticed that they were running this poll, came in a distant second with 14.5%, followed by Howie (10.6%), Ken Stabler, Fred Biletnikof, Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Ted Hendricks, Willie Brown, and Dave Casper.

Marcus was a great Raider, and his Super Bowl performance against Washington is one of the most spectacular games in football history. But this selection is controversial, seeing as how roughly 1/3 of his stats came as a Chief.

I know a lot of that isn't his fault. But shouldn't Art Shell be penalized for his role in that debacle as coach, and him and Marcus cancel out each other's eligibility?

Where is Jim Plunket with his two Super Bowl rings? And don't get Dan started on Lester Hayes' exclusion from this poll. His head is still sore from banging it against the wall when Lester once again did not make the Hall of Fame.

And no Ray Guy? He wouldn't have won, but it would have been fun to include.

Also, Bill, the "Greatest Raider Ever" is Al Davis. Marcus Allen was voted the All-Time Franchise Player. There's a difference, and most Raiders fans, even they now hate Al, know this difference.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Am Excited

Clearly I have a cornerback's mentality, because no matter how many times I get burned I get fired up for the next time around.

There are all the usual reasons for excitement: returning defensive studs (Asomugha, Burgess, Morrison, Howard), promising young skill position players on offense (Russell, McFadden, Miller), a second consecutive year with the same coaching staff, etc. But I really think the whole drama of a Raiders season has in itself become fun to me, as sick as it sounds.

Today's topic du jour in the local media is Lane Kiffin's continuing disappointment in the depth of the roster. He complains that the Raiders have an unwillingness to cut players who are injured throughout training camp, and as a result, marginal players are going to make the roster and the starters won't see much of a challenge.

The fun part of this is that Kiffin clearly is taking a nothing-to-lose attitude with the press. Since Al has taken away his seat at the personnel decision-making table, Lane is just going to provide his input via the press.

While we are all aware of Davis Scholarships, I've always thought Kiffin projects existed as well. Take the 2007 draft - the one influenced by Lane Kiffin, the man who had visited so many of the draft class in their homes while recruiting for USC. There are four pretty terrible players from that draft either unnecessarily holding roster spots or frighteningly projected to make the team: Johnathan Holland, John Bowie, Mario Henderson, and Johnnie Lee Higgins. Not coincidentally, our worst depth is at WR, CB, OT, and return man.

It seems Kiffin is willing to take on projects but is quick to move on, such as he did with players like Mike Williams and Quentin Moses. Given his tenuous hold on the head coaching position, he is probably even less likely this year to display the patience required to nurse projects to fruition. I suspect Kiffin is ready to move on from these four to find better options.

Ironically, it's Al Davis' patience with his player projects that may help him lose patience with his coaching project.

Sllaacs: A view from the bottom

I am not excited by the upcoming NFL season. My malaise is not just because I've a been a rabid sports fan for 22 years of the Digital Age and am weary of the constant deluge of useless sports rhetoric, but largely I am not juiced for a more basic reason: My. Team. Sucks. So does Green Bay, by the way - and anyone the San Francisco Forty-Niners beat this pre-and regular season upcoming.
What will the 49ers do differently this season than last? They attempted to score and not be scored upon for 20 games last season (pre-season and regular season), and the season before, and so on, since the last time they played more than 20 games in a season and actually made the playoffs, which was... Which was.. "A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far, Away". Thinking back to the past - that is what I, Niner Fan, have been reduced to...
I think I now know how Raider Fan has been feeling for all these years. All I would hear from Raider Fans when I was in High School was; Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Ken Stabler and Howie Long, The Greatness of The Raiders, The past Championships from the pre-Super Bowl era; and of course, how the Niners sucked real bad before Walsh, Montana, and Company.
This also reminds me of why I became Niners fan in the first place - and it wasn't for fashion. When I became a sports fan around 11 years of age, there was only one Bay Area Professional Football team. (Some would say there is still only one or none at all to be precise).
Anyhow, Done. One team in the area, Niners - So I'm a fan. Why would I change - just because I live in Oakland, and the Raiders "Came Back"? So what. Who did the favor, Oakland or Al Davis? Who thinks the Raiders were happy playing in L.A., in a venue as big as the Grand Canyon? Trust me, the mistique, or reputation or "aura" of the Oakland Raiders does not represent the Average Oakland Resident. And nor does the Average Oakland Resident give a rats ass about Al Davis - which matches how much the Average Oakland Resident cares about the team across the Bay. The Raiders do not represent Oakland. And if they do, then why doesn't it say "Oakland" on the Raiders uniforms and helmets? I guess for the same reason we have the Golden State Warriors. At least the Niners show allegiance to the city of San Francisco.

In summation: Both Bay Area teams are likely to miss the 2008-2009 NFL postseason, and that is putting it mildly. Hopefully the Niners will get decent Quarterbacking this season, but it doesn't seem likely, and the Raiders have untapped potential to keep them warm, for now. Anyhow I think this hackneyed equation I just came up with applies to both teams this year:

Weak QB + Weak Offense + (Weak Offense x Lame/Overworked Defense) + (Good Coaching -Bad Coaching) + Long Season = 3 Wins

Plain and simple. This has been a tough last few years for Niner Fan, I think. We were used to the San Franciso Forty Niners trotting out either a Hall-of-Fame QB or a Pro Bowl QB. To have to adjust to scrubs is painful. So, like I stated before: I am not excited by the upcoming NFL Season.


Friday, August 15, 2008

JaMarcus is a Baller.

I watched most of the game tonight, but the most promising part was the touchdown drive that ended the first quarter and started the second.

JaMarcus looked great. Poised, confident, in control. The play he made on the touchdown pass, ducking under Haynesworth and firing a straight up bullet into Zach Miller's hands, was a thing of beauty.

Now if we can find a wide receiver who can make some plays (Curry had a couple of nice catch and runs), we could be in business. McFadden and Bush were awesome.

Johnnie Lee Higgins sucks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DeAngelo Hall is a Wordsmith

"Man up or bitch up" is the phrase he used, in response to Coach Kiffin saying the Raiders aren't a very good team right now, and not ready to start to the season. "Any coach is going to say that but I think we're ready," Hall said. "A lot of guys aren't ready to do things in life until they're thrown in the fire. Then you've either got to man up or bitch up. I think we're ready to man up."

Props to Jason Jones for bringing us this quote. Both Jerry and David White led their posts with Hall's broken finger, and how he's practicing anyway. But only Jason Jones isn't worried about offending Raiders fans. I especially like that his editors didn't make him write it "man up or b---- up" or "man up or ---- up," leaving us to guess what exactly was being bleeped.

That said, between Hall's broken finger and Nmamdi leaving the field to get his foot X-rayed, I am getting a little concerned about depth in the secondary.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Archuleta Signs

This is interesting. In October or so of 2000 I went to a UCLA vs. ASU game at the Rose Bowl with my buddy Todd. UCLA won, but I remember I was sitting with this weird Canadian dude, also named Todd, I think, and we both commented on the ASU defender who seemed to be in on every single tackle. "#45 is a player," he said. "He's playing balls oot on every play."

So if he can push at outside linebacker and make some big hits and tackles, hey, that's pretty cool.

Plus, if he can bring it on the field half as good as he brings it off the field, we have a player.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blackout WTF?

Tacked on at the end of David White's Raiders Notebook this morning was an attempt to explain the blackout for tonight's Raiders/49ers preseason game at the Coliseum:

Briefly: The television lineup gets a little complicated because the Raiders and 49ers run on different stations. The Raiders' broadcast will show on Channel 36 at 10 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Saturday. The 49ers' broadcast will be live on Sacramento's Channel 13 and Monterey's Channel 46, but taped on Channel 5 at 11:35 p.m.

Are the blackout rules different in the preseason than they are for the regular season? This it's weird, because the Monterey and Sacramento stations are showing the game live, which if normal blackout rules applied they would be unable to do. Also, isn't there a rule that a team's road games cannot be blacked out in their home market? So why is the 49ers broadcast being shown even later than the Raiders broadcast in San Francisco/Oakland?

This is retarded. Wikipedia has an explanation of blackout rules, but I can't verify if it's correct.

I was only planning on watching the first part closely, to see how JaMarcus looks, and to see if our defense can tackle anyone yet.

Instead, I'll watch the Olympics.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bill Williamson Hearts Lane Kiffin

Bill Williamson has a couple of nice pieces on a Raiders camp overview that says nothing but good things about Kiffin and his young players, and blog item that shows both McFadden (#9) and JaMarcus (#24) in the top 25 of NFL Jersey sales.

Mikey is sure to add to his Straight Cash Homey Jets collection, with a Favre jersey to go with that Santana Moss jersey he rocks.

Gene Wojciechowski is a Hater

Gene Wojciechowski has a column up about how much the Packers suck for trading Favre to the Jets. I'll let dobolina or Dan or Mikey (who is both a Wisconsinite and a Jets fan) discuss whether or not he's right about any of that. I don't really have an opinion on that.

But what I do have an opinion on is his apparent disdain for the Oakland Raiders. Discussing the Jets allegedly easy non-division schedule, he writes:

They play Oakland, Kansas City, St. Louis and San Francisco. A nine-win season, maybe a game better, isn't inconceivable.

Why does he have to put the Raiders at the front of that list?

We're easily better than the Chiefs, the Rams, or the 49ers. Even Nancy Gay knows that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where's Your Brother?

It’s the question of the week. In fact, as I take a moment to begin composing this entry during our extended Wednesday wind hold, I’m asked the question again.


Bummer for Mikey, but his absence enabled me to pick up another National Championship driving his Formula A Hydro – pending inspection. It was an intense drive. I took about 6 heavy baths from some excellent competitors, and put one hole in the boat (sorry Mikey). All in all, a great opportunity for me to get my bearings back having not been in a boat for a while.

Today’s races have been cancelled due to the wind. We got far enough along to see Bay Area resident Tony Lombardo blow over his ASH headed across the starting line, but that was it. So a schedule that was going to be a challenge to finish by Saturday just got that much more difficult. We haven't quite gotten through Tuesday's scheduled races, and Thursday's racing will start at 7 am.

Hopefully the fog will be lighter than on Tuesday morning:

Yes, I folded myself into this boat and managed to stay in it at 55 mph while being pummeled from all directions:

A bad sign: Hydros on the beach and a windsurfer on the lake.

Best AFC West Rivalry

Bill Williamson says Donkeys vs. Raiders.

I would probably agree, but his Denver prejudice shows a little bit at the end:

Wear a Bronco shirt in Oakland and you risk being hit by garbage. In Denver, one of the best selling clothing items is a "Raider hater" shirt.

Ooh, scary, evil Raiders fans throw "garbage," while the civilized, decent, hardworking fans of the Denver Broncos wear angry t-shirts.

This is a difficult dilemma for me. On the one hand, it's kind of cool that everyone is scared of the Raiders fans. We dress up in skulls and gorilla costumes and biker gear and people are terrified. It's fun to dress up like a pirate. Halloween comes eight times in the Fall.

But on the other hand, it's become the conventional wisdom that if you are a fan of another team visiting the coliseum, you be physically attacked. I know that's not the same as having garbage thrown at you, but "garbage" could be an empty bottle (although, if that's what Williamson meant, maybe he'd have written "risk being hit by recycling"), or a battery, or an old knife that the meth-addled Raiders fan meant to throw away.

This is way overblown. I was at the Denver game last year. I spoke with a family of Broncos fans, originally from Colorado, who had driven down from Santa Rosa or Petaluma for the game. We had a pleasant conversation. They people were talking some trash, but nothing threatening or intimidating. Maybe they could do without some of the cursing, but for the most part people were being cool. They hadn't been hit by any garbage, nobody'd poor a beer on them.

I told them to enjoy the game, and I hoped they had a good time, but that their team lost. They shook my hand, wished me the same, and walked away.

I mean, to read Williamson tell it, you'd think we were Christian Motorcycle Gang, instead of just plain old football fans.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nationals Test Day

This week I am in Whitney Point, NY for the 2008 APBA combined Stock and Modified Outboard National Championships. Today was the day set aside for testing, which is often a grueling day. This year's edition didn't disappoint on that front.

The day began with a line of trailers as far as the eye could see headed into the pits. The good news? Lots of entries. The bad? Sitting in this line:

Then the wind began to blow. After a few uncomfortable quarter-speed laps while dodging people falling out of their boats, testing was cancelled. This view pretty succinctly summed up the day:

I knew it was a bad idea to show up at the Nationals having never been in my new D Modified Hydro. This turned out to be my only chance to get to know the boat before answering the green flag later this week:

So, after a long drivers meeting with quite a few schedule changes, I'll now be heading out to defend my title in Formula A Hydro tomorrow. Mikey - thanks for the boat!

Attention to Detail

In yet another of example of why Jerry McDonald is the best reporter on the Raiders beat, he b gives us this tidbit at the end of his entry for today's early session of the joint practice with the 49ers:

The 49ers wasted no time in marking their territory. One of the oddities of training camp is, well, public urination. With no facilities on the field, players find a fence away from any invited guests to relieve themselves. Less than 20 minutes into the practice, defensive lineman Ray McDonald became the first 49er player to do so at a Raiders practice.

You just can't teach that level of attention to detail.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Walker and Favre

Javon Walker will always be linked to Brett Favre, thanks to an uncomfortable 2005 offseason confrontation when Favre called out Walker in the press for threatening to hold out on the Packers while still under contract. Favre complained that Walker was being selfish, putting money ahead of the interests of the team. Walker's position, as part of something of a "strike" organized by Drew Rosenhaus, was that he was grossly underpaid for a Pro Bowl player on the last year of his rookie contract, and might never see his deserved payday given the hazards of the game.

Walker, of course, came to camp on time without a new deal and promptly tore his ACL when the season began. He's somehow continued to land major contracts, but the incident launched Walker's reputation for having questionable commitment to his teams.

In a strange twist of fate, both Favre and Walker are headlining today's off-the-field NFL news. While Brett is mulling over a $20 million offer from the Packers NOT to play, Walker is reportedly offering to return $11 million in bonus money so he can quit, with the Raiders rejecting the offer. The sentiments of 2005 have played out to ridiculous ends. Favre wants to be in camp so badly that he is now wrecking the team, and only by putting money ahead of playing might he save the team. By giving back all of his money, Walker still aims to be paid what he believes he deserves, only this time it's what he deserves for going home.

Interestingly, Walker's offer could actually help a Raiders team that broke the bank during the offseason and is getting very little from Walker during camp. Apparently Al Davis doesn't agree. Let's hope Al is not just trying to avoid proving Yahoo!'s Jason Cole wrong.