Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mr. Davis

With Al Davis for life as we have it, today's Mark Kriegel column on the "lion in winter" is a must read. Loving and hating Al Davis is fundamental to being a Raider fan. The portrait Kriegel paints is brutal and awe inspiring.
"And now, as the owners adjourn from their morning meetings here at the St. Regis resort, the man himself comes into view.

Almost half a century later, the pompadour has been decimated, a matted wisp in its place. Davis' eyes are red-rimmed and damp. His hands are purplish and papery with age. But never — ever — has Al Davis looked more defiant, even heroic, than he does right now, pushing a walker across the marble floor.

Guarding the boss's rear flank is Raiders strength coach Chris Pearson, while a burlier man — could be a pro bouncer — leads the way. If the other owners don't warrant protection, that's only because they're pishers by comparison. Bob Kraft is flitting about in a lavender sweater. Jerry Jones is holding court in golf shirt and blazer. Everybody's dressed for an afternoon at the club. But Davis is in full Raider regalia: new white Adidas, a black and silver jumpsuit that proclaims his franchise to be "THE TEAM OF THE DECADES." Though he'll turn 80 on July 4, the bejeweled bracelet on his left wrist — "AL" set in diamonds on a black stone — suggests a founding father of bling. Then again, Davis was always ahead of his time."

I love the image of Kraft, with a dozen Walt Colemans in his back pocket, as the anti-Al. And true to form, Al eventually gets in his Hall of Fame plug, though today Cliff Branch is emphasized along with Jim Plunkett. I suspect Lester's name would come up in the full transcript.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cable Between the Lines

Interesting to read through the full transcript of Cable at the owners' meetings that Jerry posted the other day. Obviously, the JaMarcus stuff is a bit concerning, but I'll fall in line with our resident apologist and brush that aside for now as useful motivation for a 23-year-old who wears really fabulous furs.

First, he didn't seem particularly excited to talk about Javon Walker at all.

"Q: What have you decided to do with Javon Walker?

Cable: Oh, he’s still there.

Q: He’ll be on the team?

Cable: Yeah."

He goes on to chat a bit about his health, but it appears that Cable has a bit of a "show me" attitude and has not gone crazy expecting Javon to return to some glorious form.

Second, I'm glad to see Cable immediately named the "monster" as selfishness. But without doing an extensive search of Raider coach interviews over the past six years, I do have a sense of deja vu. Perhaps Cable is finally addressing it in a head-on fashion, but it seems that selfishness is an old problem that sticks around no matter how many Jerry Porters or Philip Buchanons you remove from the team. Kind of like penalties. Let's hope Cable has the power to change the culture.

Third, check out Cable's leader roll call:

"I know the core of the team. I know the Morrisons and the Howards and the Gerard Warrens and the Nnamdi Asomughas, the Hiram Eugenes, the Chris Johnsons, the Cooper Carlisles, the Justin Fargas, the Darren McFaddens, the Zach Millers, the Robert Gallerys."

I'm kind of surprised to see Gerard Warren named right after the LBs. Hiram Eugene? Sure, one can read into this one way too much, but it is interesting to read which guys are top of mind. Contrast this with Nnamdi's list of guys who care after the laughing locker room incident of 2008: "(Derrick) Burgess, Gibril (Wilson), who came from a different team . . . Tommy Kelly." The only overlap is Nnamdi himself.

And finally, good to see the love continue with Mr. Davis:

"Q: What’s it like working for Al Davis?

Cable: Awesome. Just awesome. I know all the stories, I’ve heard them. But I’ve been in there two years now, as an assistant and the interim head coach and head coach. The guy is amazing. He’s very set in his way. He is probably most responsible for the NFL being where it is. And he’s proud of that. I think that people take that confidence and that
belief in what he has that he has been able to accomplish and like to argue what that is. But to me it’s just been his wisdom and a partnership. What he told me when he hired me is We can only do it if we do it together…..I need for you to do this, this and this. What do you need from me? People say here’s this guy who dresses the same all the time and he is arrogant and this and that. That’s the perception, but that’s not who he really is. He’s a guy who loves his football team, is passionate about it. He’s a guy who has an unbelievable amount of knowledge. He’s a guy who if you allow . . . can teach you more than you ever thought possible."

What will be awesome is if Cable is saying similar things after the 2009 season.

Happy Thanksgiving and "Throwbacks"

Ray Ratto is just being funny, and he does a good job, when he says the Raiders should rock their "Oakland SeƱores" look on opening night against the Chargers for the AFL 50th anniversary celebration. Besides, everyone knows the Raiders wear throwbacks every time out, since 1963.

But check it out.

The first game of this AFL double header is the Patriots vs. the Bills. And according to Reiss's Pieces (clever name, douche), the Pats are wearing replicas of their 1963 uniforms.

Yeah, so fine, apparently they advanced to the AFL title game that year (who knew Walt Coleman has been a ref that long?). But I still think it's an interesting coincidence that the Raiders are also wearing their 1963 uniforms, as they have pretty much since Al Davis took over the team.

Also, the Raiders are playing at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. My favorite Holiday just got better.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Insulting Bilboard Watch

Still there.

Bill Williamson is a Big, Fat Hater

On Friday, Bill Williamson ranked the NFL quarterbacks, 1-33.

"What?" you ask? There are only 32 teams?

Not only that, but he has JaMarcus ranked at 30, ahead of Derek Anderson, Kyle Orton, and Shaun Hill (49ers should be even more pissed than me).

But that's not what bothers me. Everyone knows I'm a JaMarcus apologist, and I will continue to be one until he's drummed out of the league. But that's not was has me so upset.

Not even the fact that he has Jay Cutler in the top ten, even though Jerry MacDonald broke down why Cutler's overrated just the other day. Besides, if I'm a JaMarcus apologist, then Bill Williamson's whatever the sports world's equivalent of David Gregory dancing with Karl Rove (just subsititue Pat Bowlen for old Turd Blossom).

What really pisses me off is that he has two players, Matthew Stafford at #20, and Mark Sanchez at #22, who have not even been drafted yet.

That's just dumb.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nnamdi Profiled in USA Today

There's a fantastic profile of Nnamdi Asomugha today, written by Jim Corbett, that says everything you need to know about why he's the CLOAK's permanent Man Crush.

Dan will pleased to know that in addition to kindling a bromance with Bill Clinton, Nmamdi learned a lot of his shutdown skills by digging into the Raiders film library to watch Lester Hayes.

Anyway, it's an inspiring story, and everyone who calls himself or herself a Raiders fan should read it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The crew (Fred, Kristy, Unk, me) takes a break from whale watching (no, we aren't watching the Women's Final Four - hey!) to catch up on our brackets.

Of the gang here in Hawaii, Fred and Linda have the lead in the early going, tied for 14th place out of 51 brackets in the Lester Hayes NCAA pool. That's tied with Johnny and way way way ahead of Dobolina (Brad Webster), who submitted two brackets, each of which is tied for 48th place. If you added Dobolina's brackets together, he would be tied for 38th place.

My two losses are Cal and Butler. Kristy made the smart move of picking LSU in honor of our franchise QB. I picked Purdue to go a long way in remembrance of Stu Schweigert. Probably better to say it's for our latest Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson.

Nothing but Right

I'm fond of saying, "When you sign up to be a Raiders fan, you sign up for Al Davis for life." Sure, Al makes life difficult at times. But his grip on the organization just isn't going to change, and I'm not convinced that his grip will loosen beyond the grave.

That being the case, this is shaping up to be a really good offseason in terms of holding onto key players from last year and plugging holes as needed. Al still has something other than money to offer.

Khalif Barnes: "Mr. Davis has a track record of taking care of his own guys and he promised me the same, if I take care of my business on and off the field."

Chris Johnson: "Mr. Davis brought me off the streets in '07 when i first came here and I just wanted to be loyal to him for helping me start my career over. It wasn't nothing but right for me sign back here to solidify the No. 2 corner with Nnam ... We're probably the best combination in the league."

Of course, all of this important stuff is going on while the Lane Kiffin depositions take place. If we didn't have some crazy drama going on there would obviously be something wrong.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hoculi Rule?

Via Bill Williamson, the NFL is looking into making plays like Cutler's non-fumble against the Chargers last year reviewable.

This is the kind of thing that turns Raiders fans into Conspiracy Theorists. Six months later, and the NFL is going to change instant replay because the poor San Diego Chargers got screwed in a regular season game.

And yet, it's been over 7 years since that dirty goat fucker Walt Coleman called the Tuck Rule, and it's still on the books.

At least we can enjoy the drama in Denver.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Checking in from the beach in Maui while taking advantage of the Marriott's property-wide wi-fi. Approximately half of the CLOAK's readership is here enjoying a cup of coffee alongside me: Unk and Mikey. The whales are jumping, the sun is out.

And the Broncos have turned into a soap opera.

Despite Gwen Knapp's extremely backhanded compliments in that article, even SFGate has become a joy to read during this offseason thanks to David White's steady blogging. And on Monday he staked out the Raider facility to scoop a number of additional re-signings, including kick returner Justin Miller, a former Pro Bowler who returned two for TDs in about half a season last year.

With the Khalif Barnes signing, one would have to say this offseason has been a success. The Raiders played that one right, getting their guy at their price. And ESPN's article on the signing shows that Al can still talk a guy into playing for the Raiders.

There are plenty of holes yet to fill, but we have a draft coming and lots of time to plug in just a few more free agents. The big question is going to be the defense. How much of the problem against the run is personnel, and how much was scheme? Will Marshall change the scheme much or is it preordained by Al himself? Regardless, the Raiders should probably plug in a safety and pass rusher as free agency continues, then focus on drafting a WR and Tackle to play with JaMarcus for a long time to come.

But so far, so good. Kind of like my vacation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bleacher Report: WTF?

I know I should not let the illiterate ravings of fucking assholes get me bent out of shape, but the Google Alert I have set up to deliver news about the Oakland Raiders keeps bringing steaming piles of shit from the Bleacher Report.

Exhibit A is this horseshit from Ricardo Urriola, "Are You Risking Your Life Attending a Raiders Game?"

He actually writes: "There have even been deaths at Raiders games—some gang related and some not."

Curiously, no evidence is sighted to back this up. There are no police reports, death certificates, quotes from law enforcement or league officials, absolutely nothing but this asshole Urriola's "opinion." He then goes onto say that using this "fan fear tactic can only help the team. Keep it up Raider Nation."

Help the team do what? Keep what up? What the fuck does that mean? We should keep murdering fans of opposing teams?

And we all know what opinions are like; and I guess any asshole can post whatever the fuck they want at Bleacher Report.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Raider Season

The Raider offseason rolls on, and despite the lack of free agent signings it remains generally more interesting and positive than recent regular seasons. The loss of Marquis Cooper is clearly worse than anything that goes on during the regular season (even that Atlanta game last year), but it has given us more of a glimpse into the type of leader Tom Cable will be. Coupled with the strategy to hold onto our own proven free agents, I really like what I'm seeing from this latest Raider push to remake the locker room. It looks genuine.

It is sometimes difficult to understand why the Raiders of recent years have been so bad year after year, no matter the coaches, no matter the personnel. What is it about Al Davis that translates so directly into performance on the field. Poor talent acquisition? Yes, but there is quite a bit of talent on the team, and it wasn't long ago that Kerry Collins was throwing to Randy Moss and losing 11+ games per year. Defensive scheme limitations? Probably, but few would single out the defense as the bigger problem in recent years. An insistence on the vertical game? Maybe, but for two consecutive 11+ loss years the Raiders have been a zone-blocking, run-first team.

The answer is the same as the answer to the mystery of why the Raiders lead the league in penalties every year despite fielding completely different personnel led by completely different coaches. There is neither discipline nor accountability that translates through the organization to the players. Lane Kiffin calls it "dysfunction."

I like to think that the Raiders are being punished for signing the players I hate the most. In 2008 the trend continued with Javon Walker, a man who gained my dislike by participating in Drew Rosenhaus' great holdout scam of a few years ago, publicly feuded with my man Brett Favre, and then signed with the hated Broncos. This year we have dodged two bullets: Jerramy Stevens, alleged rapist, re-signed with the Bucs, and of course T.O. took his act to Siberia.

Hey Johnny, we need a safety and guess who's available?

Whether to avoid curse or dysfunction, repealing the "talent at all costs" approach of the past will help this team. Both Tim Kawakami and Bill Williamson make logical arguments centered on Al resisting the allure of T.O. A backhanded compliment from Kawakami is about the best Al can expect.

This year's Commitment to Excellence award went to Nnamdi and Justin Fargas. While they run in different social circles - Nnamdi hobnobs with Bill Clinton and Fargas with a guy who does inhale - these are the guys who will anchor the 2009 Raider locker room. It is interesting to see what Fargas had to say to Jason Jones about the upcoming year: "Probably the most exciting thing I can say going into this season is we have the same coach. We have direction as a team and we know where Coach (Tom) Cable is coming from, what he's trying to do with us and where we're trying to go."

Simple, but arguably missing since Gruden left.

It is likely that I am becoming too optimistic during the offseason, as usual. But you have to admit that when the 49ers are the other local team, Raider offseasons always look pretty good.

Insulting Billboard Watch: Still There

I can't even enjoy a Hungover Sunday trip to Popeye's without being

Saturday, March 7, 2009

No TO, Confirmed

Maybe there is something to this new leaf Al Davis has turned over in 2009. He has resisted TO temptation, and today Owens took a one year deal to go ruin Trent Edwards' life in Buffalo.

I ran through my mind a lot of justification for why Al was not going to sign TO: his speed is not exactly blazing, Al seems to be making a commitment to youth, and Al gains nothing from showing up Jerry Jones for cutting TO. But I have to admit I was nervous. Sure, we need more talent - particularly at WR - but the lack of cohesiveness and character among Raider players has been a significant contributor to the disaster we've watched this decade.

Perhaps Cable is remaking this team with character guys. Perhaps there is something to that two-game winning streak we are on.

Regardless, as Unk says, "T.O. does not stand for 'To Oakland!'"

No T.O., Continued

David White continues his impressive signing-season blogging with a post I missed yesterday morning quoting a Raiders source who says, "There is no way T.O. is coming here."

I love it.

So don't apologize that there's no news to report, Dave. That was the best news I could have heard concerning the Raiders yesterday, other than maybe "Stimulus Bill contains $1 Billion for Stadium Construction in Oakland."

Hey, why not? Someone call Rep. Barbara Lee and ask her to get on this.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Please Al, Don't Do It

T.O. was cut by Dallas today.

Under no circumstances should the Raiders sign Terrell Owens to be their big play receiver.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Insulting Billboard Still Up

I was pumping gas a few minutes ago and this was my view. I have to look at this shit every day on my way home and be insulted.

The Raiders have not responded to my email taking umbrage with this billboard. Yes, I know, there is a player lost at sea, free agents to be signed, and a draft to prepare for, but that doesn't mean the Raiders can't slap a "Cease and Desist" order on these bastards.

It just might be time to escalate.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

For Sllaacs

While the search continues for Raiders Special Teamer Marquis Cooper, finally getting a chance to answer Sllaacs' request to do a post on Alex Smith.

Hey Mikey - 21' center console fishing boat in 6-10' waves?

I guess if Matt Maiocco can do a post on Tom Cable, I can lob something out there on Alex Smith. So I see that while Alex Smith is on his honeymoon, he's been asked to take a pay cut. Still doubtful that this will bring him under the line for Obama's tax increases, but might keep him from adding to the unemployment numbers.

All this Hill-Smith talk reminds me that I watched an NFL Network special on the top 10 QB controversies of all time. Montana-Young ran away with that one. And the other special they showed was top 10 controversial calls of all time. The Raiders were involved in 4 of them. I guess the only question was going to be which is #2 and which is #1:

#2 - Tuck Rule
#1 - Immaculate Reception

But this special was far more satisfying than the last I watched on the Tuck Rule. Jon Ritchie, one of the more intelligent dudes ever to play in the NFL, pointed out several of my favorite anti-Tuck Rule arguments, including the question of how the rule can apply when Brady's left hand touched the ball before he fumbled, and wondering why all QBs don't just run around pump faking and never bringing the ball fully back to their bodies because they would be immune from fumbling. Excellent.

Unfortunately, I've just mentioned the Immaculate Reception on Unk's birthday. Oops! I'm sure Unk could provide a dissertation on Frenchy Fuqua, trapping the ball, and referees consulting with stadium security before ever making the TD call.

Happy Birthday, Unk!