Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good Result for Hall of Fame

Congratulations to another great Raider who has made the Hall of Fame: Rod Woodson. Sure, he's no career Raider, but he made a tremendous impact during his brief time in Oakland. He's also a resident of Pleasanton these days.

Glad to see Derrick Thomas make it, despite the torment he caused the Raiders during his career.

Also satisfied that Cris Crybaby Carter, Shannon Sharpe, and Paul Tagliabue did not make the cut.

But of course I can't watch any Hall of Fame induction without wondering how in the world Lester Hayes hasn't yet been elected...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ESPN Declares Cable

Based on a "source close to another candidate," Michael Smith has, by process of elimination, deduced that Tom Cable will be named head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Of course the worst PR man - or the one with the worst job (a combination of both?) - in the business, John Herrera, vehemently denies that the decision has been made, while simultaneously pointing out how ridiculous the Raider hiring process is:

"The decision has not been made," Herrera said. "That's not correct. At some point here we will have a head coach, but as of now that decision has not been made. We are assembling a staff as you know, but a decision on the head man has not been made."

Hopefully the Raiders will not go overboard with their denials and push another coach to take a position on Denver's staff.

Schefter agrees with Smith that Al has made up his mind, but adds a caveat: "It also should be noted that team owner Al Davis is the original maverick, and he has been known to unexpectedly change his mind."

David White disagrees on a technicality, and guesses that the Raiders will wait until Tuesday to make it official. He also reports that Hackett is now QB coach and that Mike Haluchak from the Browns may come in for a DC interview, following John Marshall.

Correction: Haluchak for LB coach...and per David White he and Marshall are expected to be hired, leaving the offensive coordinator post to be filled.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hater of the Week, Super Bowl Addition: Charles P. Pierce

I thought of naming Jerry Mac and/or Adam Treu for bringing up the game that almost got me divorced, but instead I'm going to this week for the Hater of the Week, perhaps the first time it's been given to someone who wasn't hating on the Raiders.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present Charles P. Pierce, and let his words speak for themselves:

This simple fact is that the very presence of the Arizona Cardinals in the
Super Bowl is at best a fluke and, at worst, a disgrace. They played in a landfill of a division. They won their two playoff games because Jake Delhomme of Carolina turned the ball over six times and because the Philadelphia Eagles all looked at the newspapers last Sunday and discovered they were in the NFC championship game again. The Cardinals are a glorified Arena Football League team with a soft defense and a running game unworthy of the name. They are in the position that they're in because the NFL rigs its season worse than any carny rigs his wheel. For all the macho posturing of its principal propagandists, between the jiggering of the schedule and the conniving of the draft and the socialistic revenue schemes, and the desperate grab for any mechanism that will flatten out the differences between really good teams and really bad ones, the NFL is the league that comes closest to the biddy soccer league philosophy of making sure that everyone gets a trophy.

That's what the Arizona Cardinals are: the National Participation

He doesn't stop there. He has words for Thom Brenneman (which I appreciate; it's a scientific fact that 75% of men who spell their name "Thom" are douche bags, compared with 100% of men who spell their name "Geoff"), Tim Tebow, and Brett Favre.

Good Work, Chuck.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Safety Matters

During the parts of the conference championship games I was able to watch last weekend, it struck me that the four teams involved had something in common: veteran leadership at the Safety position.

Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, and Adrian Wilson. Each has been to multiple Pro Bowls, and three of the four are starters in this year's Pro Bowl, Dawkins being the lone exception. Perhaps his previous seven trips to Hawaii were enough. And the most memorable moment of the weekend came when Polamalu turned a 2-point game into a 2-score game with a stunning fourth quarter INT return for a touchdown.

If we think back to the last time the Raiders played in a conference championship, Hall of Fame finalist Rod Woodson provided that crucial leadership as the Raiders' Free Safety. Many credit him with making the play that halted a Raider losing streak and launched them towards the Super Bowl.

This is why Derrick Gibson was such a tragedy, and why Michael Huff is becoming one. Huff was widely regarded as a can't miss prospect and a playmaker coming out of Texas. Is he a bust, or can he be saved? Why has he failed? Body type? Scheme? Coaching?

If it's coaching, Darren Perry - credited with helping Polamalu kick off his career at the SS position - couldn't do it, and Huff was moved to FS to make room for Gibril Wilson. Now Lionel Washington, former Raider and part of a Packer defensive staff purge after a disappointing 2008 season, will give it a try. In Green Bay, Washington worked with 2009 Pro Bowler Charles Woodson, along with the only 2009 Pro Bowl selection at Safety not involved in last weekend's games: FS Nick Collins.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Googily Moogily - Updated

We interrupt this scintillating Raider Coach Watch to note that Herm Edwards has been fired by the Chefs. And who does the Professional Liar say is ready to replace him?

The beady-eyed devil himself, Mike Shanahan.

If it comes to pass, the hallowed "Raider Week" tradition in Kansas City is likely not to disappear. And perhaps my Bronco-loving in-laws will come to appreciate what a slimy dirtbag Shanahan really is.

Update: Interesting to see how much softer the tone has become at the link above during the afternoon. The original comment from Mort was that the Chiefs were "near" a deal to hire Shanahan, and it read like they were merely waiting for the ink to dry on the contract. Now it attributes the "near" comment to "one source," while Mort is reporting that the Chiefs are merely "targeting" Shanahan. In that very article it now states that Adam Schefter "is reporting that there is no chance he will be the next Chiefs coach." And he states that pretty clearly on his blog. The article goes on to cite a league source who says there is "no way" that the Chiefs could have been near a deal given their obligations under the Rooney Rule.

That's quite a change in tone. Perhaps the ESPN Ombudsman checked in on Mort's "privilege" policy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chucky, Macaca's Brother Fired in Tampa

Former Raiders Coach John Gruden, and former Raiders General Manager Bruce Allen have been sacked in Tampa, leading Jerry Mac to call Tom Cable "The Terminator" for his roll in Shanahan's and then Gruden's teams suckitude.

But why does the article have to link to this?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ho Hum

Another captivating coaching search by the Raiders. Cable got his interview. The Rooney Rule is satisfied after a visit from Winston Moss. Now Gilbride is in town, and we can add him to this list now that Herrera is finally willing to call his conversation an "interview."

While it is tempting to be discouraged when contrasting this search with others as Nancy Gay did today, as long as Cable is waiting in the wings we are better off than offering the job to Sean Payton, having him get cold feet and go home, denying the whole thing, then waiting an eternity only to have Art Shell come back. Not many on the hot list would consider the gig.

Speaking of Herrera, Lombardi's "Baghdad Bob" take on Jason Jones' post about the Lofton firing is worth a laugh...

Monday, January 12, 2009

ESPN Ombudsman scolds Chris Mortensen

Before Johnny and Jerry pointed her out, I had never given a thought to an ESPN Ombudsman. But Le Anne Schreiber exists, and today she called out Mort for his "privilege" comments regarding the Raiders. It's an interesting read, with her initial reaction being, "It couldn't be true. Chris Mortensen wouldn't say that," and wondering whether Mort and ESPN were "scuttling the basic journalistic principle of allowing subjects the opportunity to respond."

She wraps up by concluding that it was a "one-time lapse," but asks, "Why didn't someone at either ESPN's television or online news desk remind Mortensen of that basic journalistic principle when he needed reminding? And just as importantly, after failing to do that, why didn't someone at ESPN elicit that straightforward 'I was wrong' statement that Mortensen handed me on a platter?

If I may...

It is most likely because Chris Mortensen has achieved that level of celebrity as a sports journalist where pride becomes more important than "basic journalistic principles." And he works for a network that has carefully crafted a personality that is as arrogant and bombastic as the worst among the athletes they cover.

Rickey Henderson in HOF: The Greatest Player I Ever Saw. (UPDATED)

We take a break from the playoffs and Raiders' coaching search to point out this: Tim Kurkjian has a wonderful article on Rickey Henderson's election to the Hall of Fame over the weekend, coming to the conclusion that Rickey was too good. Rickey might also be the funniest baseball player of all time:

Everyone has his favorite Rickey story, none of which is flattering: He framed, but didn't cash, a $100,000 signing-bonus check because, he said, "I was waiting for the interest rate to go up." He asked for a Winnebago as part of his contract with the Mets. When some player on the bus said that players with tenure got to sit wherever they wanted, Rickey said, "Tenure? I got 15 years in the big leagues." And there is the apocryphal story about John Olerud, who always wore a helmet in the field because he suffered a brain aneurysm in college. When Olerud joined Henderson with the Mets, Henderson told him that he'd played with a player in Seattle who also wore a helmet when he was in the field.

"Rickey," Olerud supposedly said (but really didn't), "that was me!"

In 1983, the Contra Costa County library had a summer reading program. I was 9. If you read a certain number of books in a certain amount of time, you got a card stamped, and they gave a free ticket to an Oakland A's game. My mom took my brother and me to the library twice a week. This was how I went to my first major league baseball game. The A's were playing the Indians. In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians ahead 2-1, Rickey came up and hit a three-run, walk-off bomb. I was hooked; Rickey became my favorite player.

Now the A's are bringing my other favorite player, Jason Giambi back. I understand why he went to the Yankees; he wanted to get paid and play on the biggest stage. But I never understood why people in the Bay Area thought he was going to rock the same personality in New York that he had here. To me it was like Samson cutting his hair and losing his power. In this case, Giambi lost his swagger.

Get that hair long, Jason, and show those tats.

UPDATE: has a great list of Rickey Memories.

Next Generation Hate

The Broncos have hired Shanahan's heir, and he is Josh McDaniels, 32-year-old prodigy from the hated New England Patriots and an A-list coaching candidate if ever there was one. As the Patsy's offensive coordinator he was responsible for a huge number of points being scored, many of those in the first quarter of their game against the Raiders this year.

So who is rumored to be defensive coordinator? Mike Nolan, the suit.

I commemorate this moment by blogging via Firefox for the first, but not last, time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hater(s) of the Week: Kenny Albert and Tony Siragusay

After Jake Delhomme just threw his fifth interception of the game, Kenny Albert and Tony Siragusa had this exchange:

Kenny: The last quarterback to throw five interceptions in a playoff game was Rich Gannon in Super Bowl IIIVIII. You remember Gannon, right Goose?

Siragusa: Yep.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cam Inman Disses BARFF

Fleshes out the shared stadium fantasy, and takes it to its logical conclusion.

This idea makes too much sense for the teams to actually pursue it.

Where is Al?

Nice work by Dan rounding up the coaching news. One thing caught my eye in a post by Jerry Mac last night, "Gilbride says 'conversation' was an interview":
“I had a very enjoyable conversation with Mr. Davis. I’m very flattered he took the time to speak from … I believe he’s still in the hospital. To be honest with you, I know I got the interview because of the success we’ve had as a football team, in particular the players and coaches on the offensive side.

“I think it would be disrespectful for me to go into anything besides what matters so much to these players and these coaches in this particular game. But I think I certainly appreciate the job that players and coaches have done.” (emphasis added)

Tim Kawakami wrote a blog item Monday speculating on Al Davis' health, but Gilbride's comment is the first reference I've heard to this by someone who is not a local sportswriter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Search

While Denver is off wining and dining every coach on the A-list, a steady trickle of uninspiring news comes out of Alameda. Is Al too busy with rehab? Is he preoccupied boarding up the windows as the professional rioters and opportunistic kids advance?

Or has he already settled on Tom Cable?

David White continues his active blogging during the offseason, and notes that Don Martindale is favored for another in-house promotion to defensive coordinator. Jerry suggests it, too, and goes beyond the semantics argument over Gilbride to discuss Ed Donatell as another possibility, along with an offer to Lionel Washington to become defensive backs coach. Given the Packer connections perhaps we can get dobolina to weigh in.

But White ties things together in his article, suggesting that the Cable hire is imminent once the Rooney Rule is satisfied. Again, considering Al's recent hiring track record and Cable's inspiring (yes, inspiring) end to the season, I would be in favor of the move.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ryan Is Out

Per Schefter, the long awaited move for Rob Ryan to leave and join his old friend Eric Mangini has happened. The Raiders' ship continues to empty, with Rathman making a lateral move across the bay. Maybe once John DeFelippo leaves, Cable will hire Jeff Jagodzinski, fired by John's dad at Boston College for interviewing with the Jets.

Meanwhile, in Al's world, it seems that "acting quickly" is relative.

Knapp is Out

Greg Knapp went to Seattle to join Junior Mora today. Lombardi hears that Cable is the guy for the Raiders. Jerry Mac has an interesting conspiracy theory about why Lombardi mentions Harbaugh for the Detroit, St. Louis, and the Jets jobs, but not for the Raiders. He says it's because Harbaugh's Agent is one of the founders of the National Football Post, so he would know.

And the Browns hired Mangina.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Please do Not Stand Too Close to Dan

As he may decide to suicide bomb the Hall of Fame after Lester Hayes (and Kenny Stabler and Ray Guy, but it's Lester that has pushed Dan over the edge) did not make the cut in the voting. Again.

But Shannon Sharpe?

I just threw up in my mouth

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Professional Liar

Right on schedule. We are approximately one year from my last rant about "NFL Insiders" and their increasing role as rumor mongers. Perhaps they should be called NFL Gossip Columnists. "Lost the privilege" is the arrogant way to say it, but that pretty well sums up the National Enquirer's approach to journalism.

Note that the ESPN link above keeps growing. The original contained no rebuttal from Amy Trask and no email to the AP stating that the Raiders were no longer worthy of Mort's fact checking. Those items were added in the late afternoon. Now I see that further "elaboration" from Mort has been added. I'll copy it here in case the article continues to change:

"Upon further review, I should not have qualified any potential communication with the Raiders as a 'privilege.' I'd say they have repeatedly diminished and discouraged efforts to reach out for an official comment based on the repeated denials of prior stories," Mortensen said. "It also would be an assumption on their part that I have not had any contact with the Raiders while reporting on this story."

Here's what Jerry McDonald had to say about Mort on the subject of coaching candidate rumors in a live chat on December 23:

"Chris Mortensen does a good job getting names out there, and often he's right. But very often, agents for coaches are floating names through him to get interest drummed up in the client."

That sounds similar to what David White alludes to when he says, "When the investors started talking takeover and relocation, the Raiders probably told them where they could stick it ... and next thing you know, Sunday happens and the Raiders are forced into shaking angry fists and making blanket denials while league lifers snicker."

I'm sure Mort floats a lot of unfounded rumors for specific reasons, I'm sure there are grains of truth to many, and I'm most sure that the Raiders have such an impossibly tasked and apparently woefully underqualified PR department that it makes January just that much more dramatic for us as Raider fans.

David White Gets Bloggy

David White has a nice take on the "Raiders are for Sale" controversy. I have to say, his line of thinking makes a lot of sense to me. And this seems like a different than the coaching hiring/firing issues. As long as Al Davis is alive, he will run the Raiders. Into the ground, yes, but he's running them. No negotiated controlling interest in three-to-five. And since Al doesn't need to walk to live forever, that means he's not thinking about what happens if he dies. Maybe his kid will take the team, sell it, and walk away. But I'm thinking David's correct. Amy Trask doesn't just talk about things like this. They have Herrera to call people liars.

No Tuna for Al

Well, that about shoots down that rumor.

Jason Jones has a funny thought at the end of this post, though.

The Drama Never Stops

First, Chris Mortensen says the Raiders are negotiating to sell off part of the team to some Greek dude who wants to move them to LA. Then Al sent Herrera out to call the report a fabrication, because, you know, Mort is a "serial liar."

Now, Jerry Mac has gotten in touch with Amy Trask, who says that they're not negotiating with anyone, that the Raiders aren't for sale, they're aware of the offer, etc, but no thanks. The money quote from Jerry's post:

Mortensen had a jaw-dropping response when contacted by Associated Press when asked about going with the story with no comment from the Raiders.

“The Raiders have lost the privilege with me of running stories past them for comment,” Mortensen, citing examples of past stories which “have proven to be true,” including his recent report of an interview with the Giants Kevin Gilbride.

(The Raiders claim it was Gilbride who contacted the Raiders, and not the other way around).


Lost the privilege?

Guessing Mort won’t be covering the White House any time soon.

I sent an e-mail to the ESPN ombudsman just to see if this “privilege” policy actually exists.

It'll be interesting to see what the ombudsman says. You can email her here. And all this after the Raiders removed Lowell Cohn, Tim Kawakami, and Monte Poole from their reporter email list because they "write the truth." Lowell says anyone not on the Raiders enemy list, i.e., still on their email list should be ashamed. I wonder if that includes Jerry Mac, Steve Corkran, and Jason Jones, or if he just means the opinion columnists.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Round NFL Playoff Picks, by Sllaacs

Interesting that Mike Singletary canned Mike Martz.  Not surprising though.  Singletary has an offensive vision that is much closer to what Mike Nolan was running with Norv Turner as O.C. (Power Running Game) than Martz's aggressive passing attack.  Who is to run the offense now?  Hopefully Singletary.  Hopefully, Mike Singletary will hire a decent O.C., I don't care who, and then make the play calls himself, based on the O.C.'s suggestions, and not just sit back and spectate on the sidelines as Nolan did.  The old "well the Offensive Coordinator made the call, so I went with it", argument has grown stale here at this section of the The Cloak.

Playoff Picks:

Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals:

First playoff came since 1998 for the Cardinals, and they get to host it.  They have the 3rd-ranked passing attack and MVP Candidate Kurt Warner (he didn't win it), but in the playoffs, the rushing attack generally becomes paramount to success.  I will go with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner on the road 28-17 over the Cardinals.  How does an Atlanta vs. Miami Super Bowl grab ya? 

Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers:

A Defense that has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in a 16-game schedule in NFL history, with a red hot MVP in Peyton Manning , and a 9-game winning streak has this team resembling a Steam Roller.  
Regular season underachievement's  aside, the Chargers have won four in a row and are in the Playoffs, hosting no less.  They have beaten the Colts 2 of the last 3 times they have faced each other.  Phillip Rivers is great, and LaDainian Tomlinson will play.  I pick the Colts on the road, 24-21 over the Chargers.

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins:

The Dolphins went from laughing-stocks (1-15) last year to home-field (AFC East Champs) in the Playoffs against the Ravens this year.  Much like the Falcons, there has been such a quick turn-around with Miami that Sllaacs is still not 100% convinced that this season's success will be long term.  Anyhow, I like the consistently strong-to-dominating defenses put forth by the Ravens over the past 5 years over the Newbs from Florida.  Baltimore over the Ravens 17-9.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Minnesota Vikings:

Gus Frerotte or Tavaris Jackson?  Does it matter?  The Vikes have the #1 ranked run defense and the Eagle's Donovan McNabb has had his troubles when forced to throw this season.  Can Philly run the ball on offense enough to keep Minnesota honest and give McNabb a decent chance at moving the chains?  Yes, says Sllaacs.  Philly will do this thing, just like they did that thing last week against the Cowboys.  Eagles over the Vikings 30-16.

P.S.  Oh, the Warriors...  The Warriors...


Friday, January 2, 2009

This Sets us Back

It seems like every few months someone allegedly a Raiders fan does something ignorant and newsworthy. First there was the kid who got eaten by a tiger last Christmas while wearing a Marcus Allen jersey . Then there was the homeless, junky San Francisco State student on the cover of SF Weekly with a Raiders sticker on his cell phone.

And now some guy robbed a bank in Walnut Creek wearing a Raiders hat. Now, it could be that the suspect is a genius, and the Raiders hat is only a disguise. According to the description, he was a short white guy, about 5'8" tall with blond hair and a goatee.

Has anyone see Shanahan since he was fired? With his buyout, I'm sure he could afford a blond wig. And what better way to make Al look bad?