Last week, Badger Herald Sports Content Editor Michael Bleach and I decided to write our point-counterpoint on a subject very close to my heart: the Oakland Raiders.
No, I’m not from Northern California, and I don’t wear a Darth Vader suit on Sundays, but I do admit to being a fan of the silver and black.
All right, I’ll give you a minute to laugh while I sit in remorse.
In 2002, I was the one laughing at everyone else. With league MVP Rich Gannon, Charlie Garner, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Jerry Porter — to go along with the top offensive line in the NFL — the Raiders dominated nearly every defense they faced before they encountered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But like Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a changin’.”
The turnover in the Raiders’ offensive talent has been truly remarkable. Instead of a gun-slinging quarterback, they have JaMarcus Russell — perhaps the biggest bust of the 2007 draft. They tried bringing in Randy Moss to help out a depleted receiving core, but the receiver wisely left before Oakland dragged his career into the gutter.
And it doesn’t really look like the front office is making things any better. In fact, seemingly every year, the Raiders look increasingly worse.
Even when things started looking a little bit better last year (really, just a little bit), the Raiders’ owner goes ahead and fires his progressive head coach Lane Kiffin for simply disagreeing with him.
Simply put, Oakland’s digression can be accredited to one person: Al Davis.
Since Bill Callahan took the Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Raiders record (including this year) has been the worst in the NFL (yes, worse than the Lions) at 26-79 (a .248 winning percentage). This year, at 2-6, their problems on the field obviously are still unresolved.
But with those struggles comes the issues that can’t be solved by a strong throwing arm or a 40-yard dash time. I’m talking, of course, about current Raiders’ head coach Tom Cable.
If you had the chance to check out any top sports news website this past week, you would have seen headlines such as, “Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable abused them, women say.” That — along with a full “Outside the Lines” investigative report by ESPN — highlighted Cable’s significant history of domestic abuse with ex-girlfriends and an ex-wife.
Coming off a preseason during in which Cable allegedly assaulted an assistant coach, this isn’t exactly surprising for NFL fans who have seen the Raiders’ fall over the past several years. Football players hit people, fights break out — it happens.
What is surprising, however, is the ownership’s inability to speak out against Cable and reprimand him for his actions.
Now you might say this is just another one of Davis’ unconventional tactics to keep his franchise intact. If that’s the case, then the Raiders’ illustrious owner needs to figure out exactly why he is still in charge of a professional sports franchise.
If anything, not taking a stand and not firing Cable makes the Raiders franchise look more and more like the league’s long-running joke, if it isn’t already. Since 2002, the Raiders have changed coaches more than John Kerry changed his stances.
He fired Kiffin for disagreeing with him, gave Callahan the boot for one bad season and released an incompetent Arte Shell, probably for good reasons.
So, at this point, with a 2-6 record, allegations of threatening to kill an assistant and claims that he beats women, why won’t Davis fire Cable? It just doesn’t make sense.
But if you follow the NFL, and moreover, if you know anything at all about Davis, there’s one thing that stands out about the infamous owner: pride.
Yes, pride is what’s causing the Raiders’ problems, and more importantly, it is what’s keeping Cable in a head coaching position.
You see, for some incomprehensible reason, Davis hired Cable, a three-year veteran, to a leadership position in perhaps the most backward franchise in American sports. That decision — after getting rid of what looked like a promising young coach — is sticking with Davis and keeping the Raiders from moving forward.
Until Davis swallows that pride, Oakland will continue to be in the cellar of the NFL. Cable will probably be fired at the end of the season, but by that time, it will be too late. The Raiders need change now, both in the front office and in the coaching staff.
And while we can all rightfully blame Cable for his unwise actions off the field, Davis is equally responsible for his inability to recognize a failure when it’s staring him in the face.
Jonah is a junior majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. Do you like to laugh at the Raiders’? E-mail [email protected]