Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Weirdness of the Raiders

I can only imagine how it felt to be Hue Jackson. The onetime University of the Pacific quarterback has toiled his way up the coaching ladder and finally landed a coveted spot as an NFL head coach. That's a big day for anyone in the high-stakes, high-pressure business of pro football.

But the feel-good atmosphere of the news conference at which Jackson was introduced as the Raiders' new head coach rapidly evaporated as Raiders boss Al Davis veered into Weird-land.

It's not unfamiliar territory for Davis. And it's not even clear that his performance at the Jackson news conference was his all-time weirdest (connoisseurs of these things tend to point to the 2008 gathering where Davis used an overhead projector to display a letter he'd sent to fired coach Lane Kiffin). But still--does this stuff happen anywhere else?

Sure, pro sports is a world full of big egos and high stakes. No doubt, there's intrigue everywhere. But for all the vaunted secrecy of the Raiders organization, nobody hangs the dirty laundry out in public like the Silver and Black. While he was busy slagging his most recently-dismissed head coach, Tom Cable, Davis did the following:
  • Mocked Cable's claim that an 8-8 season meant the Raiders weren't losers anymore
  • Revealed the Raiders had been named co-defendants in a lawsuit accusing Cable of physically abusing a woman
  • Accused Cable of breaking team rules by bringing the woman in question on road trips (and also accused Cable of hiding this from Davis)
As usual with the Raiders, there are at least as many questions as answers. Foremost, why would Davis keep Cable around for the entire 2010 season after learning of what Davis clearly believed to be unacceptable behavior? The Raider boss answered that by saying he didn't want to switch coaches and create what he called "an uproar" while the Raiders had a shot at the playoffs and before he knew Jackson well enough. In other words, he'd already decided to fire Cable but let another whole season slip by before pulling the lever.

And people wonder why the Coliseum doesn't sell out anymore and how a team can go 6-0 in its division and still miss the playoffs. Only in Oakland.

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