Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dark Days In Alameda


I went outside to grab a cup of coffee at my local Starbucks. A couple things seemed fitting. First, it was raining outside with no hint of sunshine. Second, my local Starbucks was closed because of a power outage in the area.

So as I drove the few extra miles to another Starbucks, I began to contemplate all the ramifications of the current mess emanating from Alameda. After wading through all the "what ifs" the 2 conclusions that raised to the surface is simply the following:

Al Davis doesn't care about the fans and Al Davis doesn't care about winning. Prove me wrong on either count because I'm all ears.

Since the departure of Gruden, just look at how Davis has selected his next head coach. In each case, the process was a complete joke. The number of legitimate candidates was paltry. The final selections were dubious. The number of candidates interviewed and the foot dragging was appalling. The authority of the chosen Head Coach was extremely limited. When we finally struck gold with a charismatic, young leader like Kiffin, Davis found a way to ruin a good thing.

If Davis truly cared about his players and winning he would understand the importance of stability and continuity. 5 coaches (Gruden, Callahan, Turner, Shell, Kiffin) in 7 seasons later and we are going to be right back at the trough looking for our next head coach.

Holding the key leadership position in the organization, Davis should understand how critical it is to give his head coach all of the tools, resources, support, and authority necessary to lead his staff and players. As the key leader in the Raiders organization, Davis should also know how important trust & respect is to a healthy relationship. Neutering Kiffin in a public fashion was s a poisonous, vengeful act that has no point of return.

As a long time Raider fan, I will continue to follow the team. However, my support of the Raiders will be in spite of Al Davis not because of him. His meddlesome ways and need to exert his power is getting in the way of the one thing he craves, glory.

19 Comments:

OpenID mike88p said...

bravo Take, sad to say, i share your despair and loss. I have written the organization, as I suggest all fans do. Not that Al cares, but perhaps if some of the top management (or son-of-al) get the massive discontent among fans, something might give.... though doubtful.
Here is the content of my last email to Raider.com (it is 'rough' note, bear in mind they had started off weeks ago, more supportive and soft, asking that Al allow coaching consistency and allow Kiff to keep building:
I am a fan of 27 years, and have attended games every-year (since the Raiders, after Al having screwed us fans, returned to Oakland).

"Kiffin Rumors: I know from my friends that us fans are entirely sick of this Al Davis destructive nonsense. Not that Al gives a damn. Al's contempt for the fans has reached psychopathic levels. He doesn't care about the team's performance, its about his ego and greed. Even the biased management must realize that his age-adled egomania-driven delusions are ruining the team, the franchise, and (ironically) his legacy. Al and the Nation have become a joke. Al's greed and ego have now reached treasonous status to the Nation.

If rumors regarding Kiffin are true, you've lost another long-time fan until Al dies or is committed; right now that can't come soon enough. Once a great man, he is a shameless, shameful shell of himself. Pathetic."

2:42 PM  
OpenID mike88p said...

oops, sorry, mean, bravo CB (not Take!). And hope you found some coffee.

2:45 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Calico Jack- as Raider Take says, you are "the voice of reason." This is a sad, sad time for all Raider fans, and it's completely at the behest of one remarkably egotistical, self-centered individual who, as you aptly point out, could care less about the fans.

My new slogan for the Raiders is “commitment to self-destruct.” Go ahead Al, run with it.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Aye, Captain. Well said.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

P.S. Nice to see mike88p in action. Keep fighting, bro (and sending those great txt messages during games -- too funny!)

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

The Raiders and their great history as we know it would not exist without Al Davis. We were in the super bowl in 2002 no one else in the AFC west has been since. Al does not hate the fans and no one wants the Raiders to win more than he.

His only sin as it relates to the current issue is not firing Kiffin asap and letting this spiral out of control.

Stop the hating on Al

Regards

Florida Raider

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad Florida Raider does not work for the Raiders organization, he is nothing but an ENABLER. He is akin to the guy that sneaks cigarettes into the lung cancer patient that is layed up in the hospital.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Mike & Dard: Glad you guys stopped by. If I visit Oaktown in 08 (doubtful but possible), we need to pound a few beers in the parking lot.

Mike: Yes, I got my usual Venti Carmel Machiato. :>

Florida Raider: I respect what Davis did in the past but not the recent present ... like the last 5+ years. It is his franchise so he will continue to do as he sees fit. My hope was that by now Davis would have relinquished his iron grip on all football operations to a hand picked and trusted Executive GM & Head Coach just like the other 31 franchises do. I don't hate Al Davis but I do hate the fact that he has turned my beloved team into the laughingstock of the league. If anything I'm sympathetic that a man in his last years is staining his legacy and not enjoying life. If only he would take his hands off the wheel ...

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Ironraider said...

I remember reading one of the players, I don't remember which one, but he stated "it looks as though Kiffin will be back, and that is a good thing." For one, stability in the locker room. Now we are hearing the latest rumblings of a mad man trying to disrupt the apple cart.

But is that the case? If the "rumors" are true that Kiffin did indeed interview with AK U, I'm sure Al would be pissed, and so would I. Were is the loyalty to the team that gave Kiffin a chance to be a head coach in the NFL? One thing Al demands in loyalty, and if Kiff decided to chase after another opportunity, then I would want to see him let go as well.

Remember the constant "rumors" that Gruden was going to ND, and all the other open coaching positions in the NCAA? No word came from Gruden to shoot down those balloons, and he was let go.

I'm trying NOT to get on the "get Al out of town" wagon, because there might me something more to this story. That something falls squarely on the shoulders of a 32 year old coach named Kiffin.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another great post, CJ.

There is only one thing we can do as fans if Al will not listen to our outrage and change his ways. All we can do is not show up to home games. I'm telling every Raider fan I know to boycott the games and not to put their money in this man's pocket, since that's all he seems to care about. Unless of coarse Kiffin remains the HC and is given a fair chance to win. See if they can get their precious stadium deal if nobody shows up to this one! STRIKE!

Psycho

6:42 AM  
Anonymous raidermerv said...

Al Davis prides himself at being a very savvy business mind. He speaks of loyalty as though he wrote the only book on it. I think the biggest problem with Al Davis is his loyal fan base. He has repeatedly shown us that he could care less what we think or how we feel about being devoted fans to such a dysfunctional football organization. He raises prices, we pay. He hires Art Shell, we accept it. He polls crappy players with underachieving ways for their opinions on whom should be coach, we don’t care. We continue to show our undying support by attending the games and buying the sports gear. We are the ones at fault. Al Davis does not show loyalty to his fan base, his customers. What kind of business man is that? As conscientious consumers we should all turn our backs on the faulty, dysfunctional product called the Oakland Raiders. You know, it’s funny, we’d rather not waist our good time and money, yet Al Davis has been selling us empty promises and crappy football teams made up of crappy “AL DAVIS-PICKED” personnel for a long time now and we still buy his product. So why should he change. If he can defy sound business ethics(give the consumer something of value in exchange for hard earned cash) then why should he care? Why should he improve? We are the blame. Like junkies looking for a fix we keep money in his pocket while in every other kind of business it’s crucial to satisfy the consumer with sound, good, useful product. As long as we keep paying he’s going to keep thinking he’s a great football god and in the end it’s we the loyal fans that are made to look downright STUPID in the eyes of our peers. If Al Davis had any decency he would get out of the way and hire a good general manager, retire somewhere and try to enjoy the few years he has left on this planet. When he does kick the bucket, I promise you, will remind one of the scene in the Wizard of OZ after the wicked witch was melted. “Ding-dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch, the mean old witch … ding dong the wicked witch is dead …. dadadadadaaaaaa! That Mr. Al Davis is the real shame of it all.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous RaiderFateful said...

I'm not an Al Davis hater, but his moves over the past 5 years have me scratching my head. It all came to a point last year when he approved the re-hiring of Tom Walsh. Art Shell's re-hiring reeked of desperation, no matter how the Raiders tried to spin it. I will not deny that Davis has done many things for the modern NFL, and his 3 Super Bowl trophies are a testament to this.
I'm sure that most Raider fans are disgusted, like I am, that Al is slowly tearing down the foundation of the organization that HE HIMSELF built, and the past accomplishments of the Raiders fade away a little more each year.
I can honestly say that, if Kiffin leaves, (regardless of his loyalty) I will not follow the Raiders until Davis passes on, because this whole fiasco only shows that we die-hard fans will be in for the same song and dance every year. Gruden got the last laugh on the Raiders on football's biggest stage, and the Raiders have fallen into a funk that they have'nt been able to recover from for 5 years now. Indeed, these are very dark times for Raider faithful....

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

if this was the past 20+ years, i would not be blaming al davis for these woes.
but the last 6 years of losing with 4 coaches, you have to start to question some things.
1. are we losing because of the different philosophies of coaching?
2. are we losing because of the product on the field?
3. is are losing a combination of the above 2 questions?

i think the answer is related to #3, a combination of the 2. our play has been poor because of the different coaches (but improved under kiffin). but at the same time, half of our starters cannot play worth a crap, let alone tackle.
then you read this crap about davis and kiffin; and you have to ask yourself, "why doesn't al let his coaches do what they were hired to do?" he's always been active with the football aspect and decisions of this team, which is fine. he's the owner, he has that right.
but as an associate minister of a group of 400 young married adults, the biggest lesson i've learned is this:
i have a goal, i have a vision for the group i lead to follow. at some point, i have to trust the leadership around me to help get to that goal. i cannot lead them all myself, but i can delegate the responsibilities to reach this goal to the trusted leadership around me. if i don't, i will fail, and fail hard.
this is what is happening with the raiders. al davis lost some trustworthy leaders the past 15-20 years. it looked like he was gaining that trust with allen and gruden. then gruden bombshelled everyone with the fact that he did not want to return to the organization due to the fact he was tired of having to sell everything to al davis as if he was unproven.
when davis agreed to trade him, bruce allen packed his bags, stabbing davis in the back. every since then, davis has not trusted his leadership around him (exception of trask). you can even hear it in his statements that he is taking this on his own person to "return to glory". with statements like, "i will bring this organization to win 2 more super bowls before i step down."
our failures stem from a lack of trust between ownership, and the leaders around him. a constant underlying fear that his leadership will throw him overboard. he is acting out on his fear, and not what's best for the team.
now it's become a cancer that is demoralizing, destroying, and tearing this organization apart. a far cry from what it used to be. that doesn't happen from coaching, it doesn't come from poor play, and it doesn't come organizational leadership. it comes from the owner, and the owner alone.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous raiders69 said...

For the first time (20 plus seasons) as loyal Raider fan I went to the raiders site -contact us-feedback@raiders.com and sent what I hope will be read or forwarded to someone , anyone who cares about what us fans want-- a legetimate product on the field. When will the madness stop !! Kiffin brought hope for the future, it brings me and many others despair to see that Mr. Davis is so caught up in himself to not care about what is most important---winning--- . The veil of secrecy and a small amount of dysfunctionality is part of the Raiders "my way screw you" mystique, that has been appealing to many of us, but this stinks of something bordering on mental illness. I will never change my loyalties both it is becoming an embarrasement to be a Raiders Fan.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a peice of an article from th eblog vertgame.com

Well said in my opinion. Davis might be too hands on at this stage but Kiffin is weasel in his own right

""Both organizations, the NFL Network (through Schefter) and ESPN (via Chris Mortensen), cite as their ultimate source persons close to Kiffin. So what we have is quite possibly true, since it is Kiffin's side of things, has a clear "Poor me!" element to it, and hit the fan only after Mike Florio's sh*t-stirring got reporters so buzzed up that Kiffin had to address the Ryan situation whether he cared to or not.

We had been planning an opinion piece—at least one, possibly more—critiquing Kiffin's first year, and we're annoyed that we haven't had time to write it before he started whining in public. We do still plan to set out at much more length our thinking about Mr. Clean. But suffice it to say, for now, that he's lucky he got as much leeway as he did; Jon Gruden, who at least came in with prior O/C experience at the pro level, didn't get nearly the liberty with hiring assistants that Kiffin did. And if he now is shocked that Al Davis is Al Davis, and still demands ultimate control over everything, well, we can only say that Kiffin has been blind, or a fool, or both. Davis has always been a micro-manager in the final analysis, and that's not going to change after some kid posts a 4-12 record and tries to suggest to the owner that the Raiders need to go to a Cover 2 defense.

Quit dreaming, Kiff! Either take your money, shut your mouth, and coach the defensive scheme upon which Davis has always insisted, or leave.""

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

I can't believe how impatient you and some of your readers are. Okay so the last five years have been miserable, but look around the league even in our division at least we were in the Superbowl this decade how many teams can say that.

Were you so willing to write off Davis in 2002 when he was making great moves like signing: Rice and Romanowski, etc.

Now everyone is so quick to trash Al and defend Kiffin based on a bunch of reprots that only tell Kiffin's side of the story. Kiffin is a media whore, don't get me wrong he seems like he can coach but he needs to man up and show some respect for his boss and the Raiders.

Come on where is the loyalty to Al and the Raiders (I am sorry there can not be one without the other). You are going to take Kiffin's side who has not even been around a year and his whining about not having enoug power over Al's 40 plus years. Why the hell should Kiffin get the extra power, he is acting like a big baby because Al won't let him fire coaches. Who does he think he is Parcells?

CJ, your analysis and blog is second to none but other than Al not immediately firing Kiffin which you are right just breeds more chaos, on this issue Al stands on solid ground. If you are just upset with the situation granted we all are but don't be pissed off at Al for trying to put the young punk in his place and not have to pay money for a guy who does not deserve it.

Let's consider it from Al's point of view: Put aside you tremendous passion for the team and look at this analogy: Would you not be mad if you owned a company and you brought in a young inexperienced manager gave him more authority than you normally would and then you find out in less than a year he is looking for other jobs and trying to fire other employees without consulting with you. Would you want to pay him a massive severance package

Lets all not forget that a huge part of Raider lore is loyalty to the team and loyalty to Al. Just ask Jim Otto who has lost his legs after giving his whole life to the Raiders and he has never complained about anything.

If loyalty and respect for tradition is not part of the modern NFL so be it but it should be part of the Raiders.

Regards

Florida Raider

8:12 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Florida Raider: You make some valid points. Let me share with you the points I made on Raider Take last nigth:

"My mood over the weekend was one of outrage and despair. I wish I was the type of guy who could put my head in the sand and avoid reading the countless articles that poked fun (and a stick in the eye) at the Raiders.

I also wish I wasn't so quick to make assumptions or assign blame for the mess we are in. For that I apologize and attempt to clear my head.

Instead of picking and choosing the bits and pieces of articles that I believe and analyzing different "what if" scenarios, I'm going to shift gears and wait for the dust to settle over the next few weeks.

My sincere hope is that I'm wrong about my assumptions AND the Kiffin/Davis relationship isn't at the point of no return.

After reading a dozen articles from yesterday and today, my instinct tells me that there were mistakes made by both Kiffin & Davis through their words and actions. Both are tenacious,driven, singularly focused stubborn men who have a difficult time backing down.

There were probably a few times were Davis felt Kiffin overstepped his bounds. There were also more than likely a few incidents where Kiffin felt Davis wasn't properly supporting him.

Just conjecture on my part (and I hope I'm wrong) but I get the sinking feeling that Davis & Kififn are negotiating a settlement (ie. pay Kiffin $2M and send him on his way).

The most disappointing aspect to this entire mess is that it seem to me that it never had to get to the point where ultimatums were thrown and the dirty laundry aired in public. The way the "problems" were resolved lacked a sense of professionalism and confidentiality that would have resolved the differences amicably.

Another extremely disappointing aspect to the way the Raiders have conducted their business is that, IMO, there is a lack of focus on keeping their eye on the ball ... namely winning and doing things in the best interest of the team, fans, and organization. All of this negative press and bad marketing is detrimental and unnecessary."

My final point is that respect & loyalty are a 2 way street.
Best Regards,
CJ

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

This is my last email and thanks for indulging me and answering my questions.

Your response is articulate and dead on. It takes two to have this kind of childish spat and ultimately it harms the Raiders.

I have gotten carried away in defending Davis because I honestly believe he is in the right this time not in how he has handled it but in his motivation.

However, in reviewing your blogs and responses I think I have come to understand your ultimate and more improtant point----correct me if I am wrong.

Davis needs to empower someone to help him run the organization this would help curtail the instability.

We could have many blogs on whether this is true or not. For this arguement's sake lets take it as fact.

That being the case Davis needs to put in place someone whom he can trust, has the experience to gain and maintain his respect and is willing to involve and work along side not to be a puppet but work with him.

I think this was the nature of the Bruce Allen, Davis, Gruden triangle. The only approriate names I can come up with who would fit the bill are Madden and Ron Wolf

Once again let me give you the utmost props and respect for your balanced and well thought out writing. You are cool even if you like Venti Carmel Machiato (sorry I had to slip that in there because my wife orders something of that nature and I do not think the real Calico Jack woudl drink something like that)

All the best

Florida Raider

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Nike Air Force One said...

Al Davis is an old crazy bastard..

10:33 PM  

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