Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shellshank Redemption

I get back from a 10 day vacation to find out the following in Raiderland:

- Braveheart McNasty has been penciled in as the starting RG. Great! I love everything about McNasty. He’s tough, humble, an eager student of the game, and a true character. The only “bad” news rumbling from the McNasty Fan Club front is that he shaved off his flaming red mullet!

- My 1st day back to work (Wednesday) I find out that Jerry Porter is now an under-paid WWF wrestler parading around with his “championship” money belt. Huh? Did too much time in the sun & too much grog on deck cause my brain to warp?
Clearly, the hot, push-button topic this week in Raiderville is that Jerry “Pouter” is an unhappy camper and has demanded a trade. This raises many interesting questions that need to be resolved. It also is a defining moment for new Head Coach Art Shell.

“I don’t like the way things are going around here” Jerry Porter. What is he unhappy about? Since Porter never explained to Shell, Freddie B, or the media what was bothering him, I can only surmise that he doesn’t like the firm leadership style of Art Shell. He doesn’t like a Head Coach & WR Coach who holds him accountable to the team. JP doesn’t like the discipline & authority that Shell is exerting on the entire team. JP didn’t want to participate in the team workout program. Instead he chose to work-out by himself in Florida. One thing is certain. Porter is very well paid ($20M-5yrs) to play a game called football. Considering his production the last 6 years (239 catches, 3,125 yards, 24 TDs), he should be thanking his lucky stars that he is being paid huge sums of cash for being an underachieving, inconsistent performer.

How will this play out the in the next few weeks? Here are some of the possibilities to consider.
(a) The Raiders management finds a trading partner like Chicago, S.F., or Green Bay for either draft choice(s) or an active player.
Good: Excise a cancer before it spreads; gain needed depth at RB or DT
Bad: Getting 50 cents to the dollar on the trade; salary cap issues

(b) The Raiders management decides to hold on to Porter for the 2006 season
Good: Porter is enlightened and becomes a good soldier who works hard in training camp and earns his playing time
Bad: Porter takes a valuable roster spot and stews on the bench.

As far as Art Shell is concerned, Porter isn’t going anywhere and the trade demands are a non-issue. He isn’t concerned with whether or not Porter likes him. Shell has a simple demand of all the players which is to work hard and take care of business between the white lines. “There’s guys every year that might not want to be on a team, but, hey, part of this business is you play with who you’ve got” Shell said, “If we have somebody on this team that’s here, whether he said he wants to be here or not, if he’s doing what he’s supposed to be do, then we’ll go to work.”

Excluding Porter, the rest of the team has responded very positively to Shell’s no-nonsense, clear directives. “It’s very early, but I’ve got a good sense (of Shell)” said Adam Treu. “A work ethic is going to be instilled. Guys are going to jump on board or they’re going to have a long year. The majority of the team’s welcomed that with open arms.”

I think the Raider Nation will look back on this moment in time as a true blessing in disguise.

Porter's lack of professionalism, distorted sense of reality, lack of respect shown to HOF's Freddie B & Shell (his position coach & head coach, mind you), and his me-first attitude will be the perfect opportunity for Art to clearly draw a line in the sand.

On the right side of the line are the Raider players who are fully committed to the Raider way. This consists of working hard in training camp, being willing students of the game, having a team-first attitude, and EARNING the honor of wearing the silver and black colors.

On the left side of the line are the Raider players who are malcontents, me-first, half steppin', non-performers who will either find a cozy spot on the bench or be shipped out FedEx overnight. In the final analysis, the players need to be held accountable, meet certain expectations, and take ownership in the team's welfare. If Jerry Porter doesn’t learn the Raider Way very quickly there is always another member of the team like Doug Gabriel who is ready to step up and seize the opportunity to shine.
The dignified & decisive manner in which Shell is handling this situation only confirms my belief that he is the right man to be steering the Raider ship towards a glorious future. Shell’s unwavering belief that it is a special honor to be a Raider has provided me with an even deeper feeling of hopefulness. Just call it the "Shellshank Redemption".

Andy Dufresne: "There are places in this world that aren't made out of stone, and that there's something inside that they can't get to ,and that they can't touch. It's yours."

Red: "What're you talking about?"

Andy Dufresne: "Hope. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Get busy living, or get busy dying."

To gain more perspective on Raiders Head Coach Art Shell, here’s an insightful article worth reading.

Hope is a good thing,
Calico Jack

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Seas Are Our Empire

Ahoy mateys. I just wanted to send a quick note to my loyal readers that I will be on a cruise in Hawaii from July 15th to July 24th ... back just in time for the opening of the Raiders training camp.

I'm looking forward to the following training camp battles. Let the best man win! My picks to earn the starter's role by week 1 are in the left hand column.

QB - Aaron Brooks vs. Andrew Walter
RG - Braveheart McNasty vs. Brad Badger
RT - Langston Walker vs. Chad Slaughterhouse 5
WR2 - Jerry Porter vs. Doug Gabriel
DE - Tyler Brayton vs. Bobby Hamilton
DT - Tommy Gun Kelly vs. Terdell Sands
SLB - Sam Williams vs. Thomas Howard

Arr! I'm no scallywag though. While I'm away on the high seas enjoying some fine grog on the poopdeck with Mrs. Calico Jack, pay a visit to my fine Raider brethren Raider Take and Raider Way. Blimey! Start sharpening your cutlass and lower the boom on the upcoming 2006 season.

Silver and Black Forever,
Calico Jack

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mike Silver is a Dope

Mike Silver is a dope.” That comment says it all. But before we get to this hilarious and remarkably insightful comment by Joe Everyday fan, here is some background information to digest.

Mike Silver is a senior staff writer for Sports Illustrated. His area of “expertise” is professional football. My views on his shoddy journalism are well documented. Silver recently ranked the NFL owners in his “Open Mike” column. Al Davis was ranked 25th out of the 32 currently active owners. A couple quick points worth considering:

- What is the criteria that Mikey Silver is using to rank the owners? Should an owner like Dan Synder be ranked at #3? Besides being a good business man, what has Daniel Snyder done for the Washington Redskins? What has he contributed to the league? I’m puzzled by Silver’s evaluation. Silver seems to use the "Who has the nicest, newest stadium?" criteria as a major part of his evaluation of owners.

- Shouldn't the ranking be mostly based on a franchise's overall winning percentage, how many Super Bowl appearances, how many Super Bowl wins, the owner's total contribution to his franchise, the owner's total contribution to the league?

- On all the above counts, Al Davis would be in the top 5. Throw in the Hall of Fame induction, being a pioneer in hiring minorities and a woman to high level positions of leadership, top 3 in merchandising sales each and every year, and being a key broker in the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement for good measure.

- Finally, here is a point that puts the proper perspective on Silver's ridiculous order of rankings. The owners ranked 3-9 (Snyder, Huizenga, Lurie, Richardson, McNair, Glazer , Bowlen) have won a combined 3 Super Bowls. Al Davis alone, ranked #25, has won 3 Super Bowls.

- For an interesting viewpoint on Michael Silver’s column, go to RaiderTake’s post on June 30 “News You Can’t Use. Sports Illustrated”

(Mailbag of comments responding to Silver’s rankings):
Silver received this amusing comment from one of his readers:
Quote of the Week:
"Mike, I have a problem with Al Davis ranked 25th and a fat-ass owner like Kraft #1. You see, if you polled the players past and present now that would tell a different story. I guess if you base it on wins lately that might be correct. The owner who has done more for the players, pays the players and understands the players and the game is Al Davis. Bob Kraft showed up with a boatload of money and that doesn't impress me much. I think you're a Raider Hater, and if you are just come out and say it, don't hide in the closet, let me know. Comparing Bob Kraft and Al Davis, that's like comparing the Bay City Rollers to Elvis. Its official your a dope."
-- Marty Monto, Boston
Marty: You get the full forearm shiver seal of approval for your hilarious comment. Load the cannons and bombs away!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The American Dream

July fourth is a special date to honor our country’s founding fathers. It is a day to proudly fly the colors of Red, White, and Blue. July fourth is a date to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces who have willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.

Happy 230th Birthday to the good old U.S. of A! The fourth of July is a special holiday to recongnize the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a time to celebrate democracy, freedom, and equality under the law.

July fourth is also a special date to honor the founding father of the Raider Nation. It is a day among many for the Raider Nation to proudly fly the colors of Silver and Black. July fourth is the birthday of Al Davis who built the Raiders' organization through his vision, unwavering beliefs, and tireless efforts. Al is responsible for the rich history and proud traditions of the Raiders.

Al is 77 years young today. 43 years after joining the Raider organization as GM/Head Coach, Al still has the same dream and passion that continues to drive him. His singular focus is to bring glory to the organization and to the Raider Nation. His motivation is to add more chapters to the rich history.

Al Davis is the embodiment of living the American dream. His pursuit of happiness was to achieve a successful career in football through his hard work, dedication and talents. Here is an overview of Al’s career after graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in English.

- Coach at Alelphi College
- Head Coach for the U.S. Army
- Player personnel assistant for the Baltimore Colts
- Line Coach and chief recruiter for The Citadel
- Line Coach at USC
- Offensive End Coach for the LA Chargers
- Head Coach/General Manager for the Oakland Raiders
- AFL Commissioner
- Managing General Partner (Owner) for the Oakland Raiders

“Yeah, I’ve lived my dream, but I thought I would live my dream. But you’ve got to go get it. You’ve got to fight for it, and you’ve got to dominate” Al Davis

Happy Birthday to the man behind the shield. I have 2 wishes for Al Davis on his special day. First. I hope Al celebrates many more birthdays. Second. I would love to see Al triumphantly raise another shiny Lombardi Trophy above his head!

Check out the following birthday tributes:
The Raider Way's "Happy Al Davis Day!" and Raider Take's "Al Davis Birthday Haiku"