Press Conferences on Mute
Al, your time is almost up.
Make fans forget that they’re the moths
Edging in towards the flame.
Burn into obscurity.
Still and transfixed
The sliver & black sheep are dreaming up your fate.
And judge you from the card castle
Comfort of the Coliseum.
Come one, come all
Yeah, three, two, one.
Lights, camera, transaction!
Incubus fans might recognize those ambiguously figurative lyrics from their song, Talk Shows on Mute, but Raiders’ fans may see a literal meaning. Like me, Lane Kiffin probably wishes he watched Al Davis’ provocative press conference with his television on mute. And, after hearing Davis’ scathing criticisms of yet another former head coach, I wouldn’t be surprised if Raiders’ fans have since been praying that the end result of the Hadron Collider experiment causes a rip in the Space-Time Continuum, thrusting us all back to the year 1984. That was the last time the Raiders won the Super Bowl, and subsequently sent an impressive 8 players to Honolulu. Since that memorable ’83-’84 season, the Raiders have only made the playoffs eight times, including a forgettable Super Bowl appearance, and have recently found themselves in a steady tailspin towards obscurity.
The flamboyant owner of the 1-3 Raiders has now gone through seven head coaches since his franchise returned to the Bay Area in 1995. Of those seven poor bastards, Jon Gruden was the only coach who was able to retain his employment for more than two seasons, and managed to leave not only with his sanity, but also with a winning record (40-28). San Jose Mercury News columnist, Ann Killion, wrote an intriguing article the day after Kiffin’s dismissal that offered a few possible explanations as to why Davis’ organization has become such a black hole for coaching careers. I’d like to take this time to offer a few of my own:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Al Davis is undoubtedly a control freak. He alluded to that fact himself when he spent a portion of his press conference complaining about Kiffin’s reluctance to draft JaMarcus Russell. While I’m hardly qualified to make draft day decisions, for what it’s worth, I happen to agree with Kiffin on his opinion of Russell. I’m an avid college football fan, and I was never impressed with Russell’s NCAA career to the point where I considered him the best quarterback in the 2007 NFL Draft, no less the number one overall pick. After trading Randy Moss to the Patriots for a 4th round pick (talk about poor decision making), one would think the logical selection was Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Ironically, Trent Edwards – who may have helped to cement Kiffin’s firing by leading the Bills to a comeback victory over the Raiders in week 3 – wasn’t selected until the third round of that same draft. But alas, Davis’ ego wouldn’t allow him to follow the advice of a lowly subordinate.
The Need for Speed
Al Davis seems to prefer speed over need when filling his roster. A great example of his speed fetish was seen in his decision to draft Arkansas running back Darren McFadden even though the Raiders already had something like thirteen running backs on their active roster going into the 2008 draft. Admittedly, it would be hard for any team to pass up on an explosive playmaker like McFadden. But, with the retirement of Warren Sapp, the Raiders had a crucial position to fill at defensive tackle – a need that could’ve been satisfied by drafting LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, who was selected immediately after McFadden. Additionally, if Davis loves running backs so much, and truly believes in drafting the best available talent regardless of redundancies, then why didn’t he select Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson instead of JaMarcus Russell?
Just Whine, Baby
I can’t help but think that Al Davis’ management style is aimed more towards stroking his own ego, rather than seeing his team succeed. His whiny tone and insistence on preserving his image during the Kiffin press conference made me wonder if he would be content with a 0-16 team as long as the public viewed him as some sort of NFL deity. If Davis expects to have the Lombardi Trophy renamed after him upon his retirement, he is going to be sorely disappointed. In fact, I’d bet that if Gallup were to poll the Raider Nation, Davis would have a lower approval rating than Congress.
I’ve never been a fan of Al Davis, nor have I ever been a committed Raiders’ fan. But, I can certainly feel for a fan base that has been constantly screwed with their pants on, and left feeling as if they’re trapped in a vacuum where no one can hear them scream. My advice to ailing Raiders‘ fans is to always watch Al Davis’ press conferences on mute, because they have become predictable to the point where we know that when the lights and cameras are turned on, the inevitable head coach transaction will follow.