It was pretty clear what Al Davis’ “State of the Raiders” bitchfest, otherwise known as yesterday’s press conference announcing Hue Jackson as the Raiders’ head coach, was all about. It was about Al responding to all the forces he feels are against him. So he spent over an hour and a half talking about why Tom Cable won’t receive another dime when he wasn’t attempting to make media members (Tim Kawakami, hello!) and team employees uncomfortable.
Here’s the problem: while Davis might have his reasons for being displeased with Cable, Kawakami, ESPN and everyone else that has dared to say not-nice things about the Raiders, that much anger is too much for one man to bear. The Raiders face many so many problems, too many problems for one man. Especially for a guy in his 80’s, an age where multitasking isn’t quite as easy as it once was. What problems, you ask? Here’s five things that Al should worry about more than preemptively crushing Cable’s name before the inevitable court battle.
1. The Blackout Policy
Al has no problem suing the NFL, but has never attacked one of the most detrimental forces facing his team. Raiders home games are blacked out everywhere in Northern California. I was in Eureka during Christmas (300 miles away from the Oakland Coliseum) and I couldn’t even watch the Raiders game at my dad’s house. We all know how ridiculous the NFL blackout policy is, but we’ve never heard a peep from Al about it. Of course, he was also the first guy to sell PSLs, so maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise.
2. The Black Hole
Whether deserved or not, the reputation of this area of the Coliseum for fighting, cursing, and worst of all, bad costumes, is killing attendance. It’s never a good idea to scare women and children away (and many men, too) when the goal is to sell 63,000 tickets 10 times a year.
Al is clearly addicted to lawsuits and other assorted legal matters. It’s all he talks about. Perhaps if he paid less attention to his lawyers and more to his personnel people (wait, he IS the personnel person), he’d have enough time to work on finding better players and coaches who don’t have to settle for working with Al Davis.
4. The Downfall of Gangsta Rap
Back when NWA was huge, the Raiders were the coolest franchise in sports. EVERYBODY who wanted to act tough at my school wore a Raiders jacket (the Starter parka was the most popular choice, although the faux-letterman jacket and the classic Starter nylon model also had their audience). Thousands of kids wore the same Raiders hats Ice Cube and Eazy-E wore, especially the one that said “LOS ANGELES” in small type on top with the word “Raiders” in large cursive underneath. Can you imagine Al sitting behind the podium and saying, “What we need to do is fund the careers of Ice Cube, Yella, MC Ren and Dr. Dre, so they can once again represent that greatness of the Raiders like they once did with dignity and respect. Holla.”
5. Al Davis
When Mike Brown (the FEMA guy) proved to be an incompetent ass clown, did he take all the blame for Hurricane Katrina? Of course not, George W. Bush was mocked for allowing a tool like Brown to hold such an important position. Al Davis has tried time and again to explain away his own bad hires. Lane Kiffin had no chance of even becoming the head coach of the USC Trojans when Davis handed him the Raiders job. Tom Cable was an unknown with domestic violence issues dotting his past, but since he was a good soldier (until he wasn’t anymore), Al named him head coach even though no other team in the NFL would have interviewed him for a job even close to that.
Al has a reputation for not honoring contracts, instead trying to find technicalities that will hold up in court that will allow him not to pay — and the contracts he gives coaches are already among the lowest in the NFL. Al’s known for meddling in every phase of the game, and as a man who wants his subordinates to call him “Coach Davis” even though he hasn’t coached a team in 45 years. His own paranoia has shielded the Raiders’ headquarters in Alameda from media outlets for years. As a result, the Raiders have gone from one of the most well known franchises in sports, with the most recognized logo around, to a forgotten team. A team full of wannabe elitists who don’t realize that nobody wants to join their exclusive club anymore. A team that time passed by long ago.
This isn’t about personnel decisions (although Al’s penchant for paying too much attention to combine numbers has almost become a cliche). Every team (the 49ers are a splendid example) has shown that roster quality isn’t static, that teams fall, rise, then fall again. This is about an attitude that the entire world is against them, when in reality all of their problems are created by Al Davis’ reluctance to allow others in or respond to criticism in any other way than angrier, pettier, harsher criticism backed by legalese.