Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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Al Davis had a very animated and unusual press conference today. (link)

During the press conference Davis outlined his reasons for firing Lane Kiffin. Since Kiffin was fired for "cause" or breach of his contract, it seemed Davis was especially careful with his answers. It had the feel of a deposition. It struck me as odd how he used a projector to show the following letter to the assembled press:

September 12, 2008
By Hand Delivery and Federal Express

Dear Lane:

Over the past months, you have made a number of public statements that were highly critical of, and designed to embarrass and discredit this organization, its players and its coaches. I left you alone during training camp in hopes that you would cease your immature and destructive campaign.

However, you continue to make public statements that are critical of the organization, its players as a whole as well as individual players. Such statements constitute conduct detrimental to the Raiders and I will no longer stand silently by while you continue to heart this organization.

Further, you contract is quite clear that you work “subject to the direction and supervision of the General Partner’’ and that the General Partner has the “exclusive right to do all things, which in its sole discretion are necessary to maintain and improve the Club, the football organization and their activities.’’

I realized when I hired you that you were young and inexperienced and that there would be a learning process for you. Your mistakes on player personnel and coaches were overlooked based on our patience with you. But I never dreamt that you would be so untruthful in statements to the press as well as on so many other issues. Your actions are those of a coach looking to make excuses for not winning, rather than a coach focused on winning.

For example, with the exception of Gibril Wilson, you were involved in recruiting all free agents and determining salaries for them and you were explicit in your desire to sign Javon Walker and DeAngelo Hall amongst others. All were a must to sign in your eyes, Hall in particular, because he played for Greg Knapp in Atlanta and Knapp gave him high grades. Do not run from that now.

I do realize that you did not want to draft JaMarcus Russell. He is a great player. Get over it and coach this team on the field, that is what you were hired to do. We can win with this team!

In regards to your recent fabrications about the defense, during the final cuts you made every cut on offense and every cut on defense except for Wakefield on defense and Wand on offense. Further more, during the game Monday night Rob played your Cover 2 defense and we got killed on an approximately 50-yard touchdown pass and approximately 70-yard gain that led to a field goal.

You meet every week with the defensive coaches to go over both the past game and to get a general feel for what will happen during the week in practice. You have the ability and authority to provide your input during those meetings and the preparation for the game plan. I do not have weekly meetings with Rob _ you do.

During the week no one has ever told you what to do on either offense or defense. In addition, no one has ever told you during a game what to do on either offense or defense and you call every play on offense. During a game if you want to blitz more, all you have to do is let Rob know what blitz you want and he will do it.

Although you continue to use the media to express your dissatisfaction with others, no one has publicly pointed out to you that in 4 preseason games and one regular season game played this year, your offense has scored one first half touchdown. That put tremendous pressure on the defense.

I know that you wanted to bring your father in to run the defense and that Monte told me he wanted to come here even though he is under contract to Tampa. However, I did not want to tamper with another team. In any event that was over seven months ago. Do not also run from the defense and your responsibilities.

This letter constitutes notice that if you further violate any term of your contract, in any manner whatsoever, you will be terminated for cause. I trust that this will not occur.

A.D. Football, Inc.

By: (Al Davis signature)

At the conclusion of Davis' press conference, he introduced the new Head Coach, Tom Cable. Go to Jerry McDonald's blog (link) to get some good insight on the press conference.

My initial view on the PC is that we only have 1 side of the story ... Al's view. This side portrays Kiffin as a weasel. Unfortunately, Kiffin has cancelled his PC for tomorrow at the advise of his attorney. Whether we ever truly get the other side to the story or not at this point is irrelevant. The other side I'm quite certain would portray Kiffin as a martyr. For a more captivating post on Weasel vs. Martyr go to Raider Take's blog. (link)

It was interesting to hear Cable speak. He is very direct, forceful, and sincere. His comments about Kiffin were telling in that he "loved and respected Lane who worked his tail off".

After sifting through some of the videos and initial reports (ie JMac), it seems like a classic case of a "personality conflict" between Davis and Kiffin where both were too stubborn for their own good and both equally at fault.

In hindsight, when things started to go sour back in January, you would have only hoped that both Davis and Kiffin put aside their differences, got on the same page, and made a concerted effort to mend any broken fences.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

You know my feelings on Lane (A slimeball opportunist who seems to be able to coach).

Regardless of who you think is right or wrong or what version of the truth you believe you can not deny a simple fact.

Kiffin has bad mouthed Al, the players and Ryan in the media on numerous occasions. I am sorry but there is not a company in the world that oould put up with of their employees bad mouthing it in the press. That is insubordination pure and simple and certainly was not helping the focus of the team---for that reason alone he deserves to be fired.

Wherever you go Lane learn to keep your mouth shut and not air dirtly laundry in public.

At least Cable seems like he wants to be in Oakland and loves the Raiders. That is a good start.

Regards
Florida Raider

P.S. I told you that ungrateful punk Kiffin was trying to go to Arkansas. I assume you saw Al mention that and the info did come from Jerry Jones.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I think they both look bad. Al Davis should have took the higher road and kept his mouth shut too, but felt like he needed to respond to some false accusations, and defend publicly why he fired Lane with "cause". He should not have aired the dirty laundry there either.

Lane could have been fired purely based on his inability as Head Coach. Davis made him seem like he threw out the "You-know-who-my-daddy-is?" card when it came to football knowledge. Now Davis has to provide some pretty hefty evidence to back up the claims he made in the PC and the letter.

Don't forget, the letter is not evidence to back up Davis' claims. The letter was presented to point out the lie that Kiffin had been making to the press that last 3 weeks; and that lie was, "I haven't had any communication with Al since before the season."

In the end, I think Al has evidence to show cause, but not strong evidence. I think Kiffin will be paid some portion (if not all) the money due to him this season only. At the same time, I think the evidence proves that Kiffin is a weasel. He looked pretty shady on ESPN last night too, which to me, proves Al Davis right; that the information leaked to Mortensen came from Lane. Lane is trying to play the "Look-who-the-owner-is" card with the media, and he's going to look bad doing so. It was smart for his lawyers/agents to tell him to shut up; something Al has been telling him for quite some time. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out now.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Over the last 20 years, the team has had 10 head coaches. Nice. Over the last 6 years, the number is 5. Even nicer. Wake the hell up, Al apologists. Christ almighty.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raider Nate, I too saw the ESPN show and shaddy would be putting it mildly.

If you remember during Al's press conference he said he spoke with him at the airport after the Bufallo game and asked him about not using the timeouts. This Refuted Kiffins crap statement from a week ago about not having spoken to Al since before the season.

Then Wingo on ESPN asked Kiffin point blank has Al spoken to you since the Denver game. Kiffin completely doged the question and would not answer.

Tooz

No one is being an apologist for Al. In fact even Al last night in the conference said he was taking the blame for the instability. No one is even saying Kiffin can't coach (5-15 aside) we are just calling out Kiffin for being a liar

CJ I wish you would conced that Lane is a jerk---that aside and more importantly. CJ, are you happy about the choice of Cable---I got a good vibe

Florida Raider

6:05 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL:

As I said in my post the firing was primarily due to a personality conflict, stubborness, and poor communication between LK & AD.
Both men were too stubborn to bridge any gaps or repair any broken fences.

Yesterday's PC was AD's version of the story and nothing more. If you believe everything Al said yesterday, I've got some swamp land to sell you in your home state for real cheap. The vast majority of Davis' claims will boil down to a "Davis says this, Kiffin say that". One example of this is Davis claim that it was Kiffin who lobbied for Hall and Walker ... how is it going to be proven one way or another?

As far as Cable goes ... I have liked everything he has said, the results he has achieved with the OLine, and how he handled himself at the PC. He is a coach, leader, and motivator of men who genuinely loves the Raiders and is not a career opportunist by any measure.

I am holding out hope for 2 things to happen;

#1 Cable earns the right to have the 'interim HC' tag removed.

#2 AD wises up and hires a competent, savvy GM to help shoulder the heavy lifting.

Let's not forget 1 thing ... ultimately the burden is on Davis to make this (Cable) work. It is Davis' responsiblity to create a productive, positive, distraction free work environment. It is Davis' responsibility to establish continuity and stability if the goal of winning is sincere. As Tooz says "10 HC in 20 years" ... this instability AD is soley responsible for.

When push comes to shove, Davis needs to have an awakening and realize that if he wants to smell success he needs to change the way he conducts business. If in fact he is unable to devote the time and energy required to run a NFL team without a GM, he needs to hire competent staff and let them do what they were hired to do in the first place.

Last but not least;

Memo to AD:
Put your ego in check and understand 1 thing and 1 thing only ... when the team wins EVERYONE shares the glory and credit. This includes himself obviously, and the coaching staff, players, and fans. Sharing the credit and glory is what real leaders do. When the team loses (5 consecutive double digit loss seasons and counting) the buck stops with him.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous The Raider said...

I'm not going to burn Lane right now, but after the facts and myths were spelled out in Al's letter of warning (Sept 12th), I matched up all the things Lane has said since just before the Senior Bowl(coached by The Raiders and 9ers)

It seems to me that Lane's lack of experience in coaching was a small problem. The big problem was his lack of experience with the media.

Al took a chance on Lane and it (in a very small way) was the right thing to do. Especially with the entire league going younger and leading up to the 2011 no cap year.

He picked a smart kid that came from a football family (both Monte's family and the USC family). Al is still smart enough to calculate what it takes to build a winner...even today.

So many teams have not even tasted a single championship in their exsistance, but Al is football. He is a business man. He is a master scout of talent. Most importantly, he is Raider Football.

Unfortunatley, the players have to deal with the stupid ass media now and that isn't so bad. They are making millions and they are wearing the colors of legends. The Cable Guy, Knapp and Caveman have what it takes to keep this thing going up.

The most important thing to remember is that there is a level of respect expected from any coach to his boss, especially a poineer and legend such as Al. Past coaches like Norv (who like Knapp and Cable are life long Raider Fans) always have showed their amazment in awe of how things work in Oakland. I'm talking about how Al always seems to sign great players with only one phone call.
Kiffin should of taken Al's wisdom and knowledge and should have ran with it, not along side it. Appreciate your surroundings and use your tools and others knowledge to elevate yourself and the team.

Al got good coaches and allowed the team to super expand with assistants galore...just to help Kiffin with his learning curb and more importantly to help the will to win survive.

It is too bad that the Monte thing was true and that is what Lane needed to do it his way. Davis said in the letter that
lane wanted Ryan out only to fill Monte in. That is no way to make your mark in the NFL or in any job.

Yes, HCs bring replace other coaches a lot, but when your young and have just had the greatest job given to you, a coaching staff assembled for you and a D Cord that has been with the players for a number of seasons and you have Al Davis drafting monsters like Russell, Bush, Huff and Run DMc ...

You got to lead with pride and speak with respect in public and in private.

Lane is not a victim here, but he should not be totally put to blame.

This Press Con was reality TV at it's max! I hope Al has been writting a book and I hope he releases it soon after The Raiders finish this season a winning one.

Lets shut the media haters up and the bastUrd current rival owner/coaches up, by winning and putting the hurt on them.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous The Raider said...

CJ,
It is easy to blame Al.
After all the HCs, Al was the only one around during the last 5 crappy years, but you have got to please stop calling Al out on this.

Now I'm not calling you out to list out your reasons. You've done that plenty on this site.

What would you do differently and how could you honestly think if Al stepped away or made other moves, things would be better off. He knows this game then and now.

You, nor anybody knows the correct answers. Al has been doing this a long time and his body (not mind) is giving up on him.

He is going down (dare I say UP) swinging for The return to glory.

Al is a real leader.
He admits his mistakes. He has publicly done that. He gave too many chances to too many coaches. There is no time to wait for wins...EVER.
He did what he had to do.

Memo to CJ:
AD is a "real" leader.
EVERYONE wins and losses together.
When you vent about the last 5 years, you smear the fans pride and hope into nothing more than another twist of the knife.

Enough about the buck stopping with AD.

Enough about poor Kiffin and lack of communication. Thats all a bunch of BS! It is OVER.
Time to write about the Saints game and how we can beat them with solid D and good play calling. Someting that we can strive for, now that our O-line is not the 04-06 line.

END of memo.

We need to win now. Win as The Nation. I call all of you out. Come to the away games in full force. Come to the home games in full force. Egnore the media haters and watch this overly talented team put the smack down in the next 12 games and win.

We will sign a Roy Williams type of receiver and draft well and with health on our side...we will win even more.

We have and will overcome the odds, with great players and correct game managment.

1:29 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL: This is what I wrote on Raider Takes comments section late last night which is relevant to your last comment:

"Many of us have been focused on the Davis PC.

We have talked about this season, 4games in.

We have discussed the brief Kiffin tenure.

RT and numerous posters including myself have mentioned the past 5 seasons of double digit losses.

We talk about which HC failed, which were fired and why etc.

One of the posters on my site brought something up that I had to do a double take on.

The Raiders have had 10 HC the past 20 seasons. Let that sink in.

The fact of the matter is that we have not had real stability for over 20 years. Yes Shell I lasted 5years and Gruden 3 but let's look at it on paper.

1988 to 2008
1. Cable 2008 interim
2. Kiffin 2007 (1.25)
3. Shell II (1)
4. Turner (2)
5. Callahan (2)
6. Gruden (3)
7. Bugel (1)
8. White (1+)
9. Shell II (5)
10.Shanahan (1+)

Bottom Line:

Davis is responsible for the hiring and firing of HC. If I was a hiring executive for Company X and the managers I hand selected (a) failed or (b) didn't last beyond 2 years there is a MAJOR problem with the selection process itself. Are the most talented candidates viable? How is the selection process conducted? How is the hiring decision derived? Does the manager who was hired have all of the support and tools and authority to be successful?

Finally, Davis is responsible for acquiring the talent since we don't have a GM like the other 31 teams. He is responsible for creating a positive, healthy, productive, organized, distraction free work enviorment. When he hires someone, that employee needs the support and tools to do the best job possible.

Brushing the instability the past 20 years under the carpet is turning a blind eye to the root of the problem ... the person making the selection itself.

We all know that the proven NFL HC's are not viable candidates. Fine. Find a hidden gem and develop, nuture, mentor, and support this person. We all know that the Raiders organization is considered a black hole for HC candidates who (1) will be lucky to last more than 1 year (2) will need to arbitrate and fight for their pay. Fine. Change the reputation by your actions. Establish a stable environment. Take the hiring of a new HC as probably THE MOST IMPORTANT task you will ever make.

My only sincere hope is that the current fiasco and embarrassment for the organization will be a real awakening for Davis. When winning truly becomes the driving force behind the organization there will be much needed clarity. The drama, disorganization, dysfuntion, and chaos is an anchor we need to shed."

Last few points FL:

#1 This is a blog of my opinions and view points. If you look at my past 3 years of 157 posts you will find a balance between optimisim and reality.

#2 I value your opinion. However, don't tell me what to write or how to think. You are welcome to create your own blog which I would be more than happy to help you get started.

#3 I have supported the Raiders and Al Davis for a very long time. I will continue to support the organization. When someone in the organization (mgmt, coaches, players) does something good or I like something, I will point that out. When someone in the organization does something bad or I don't like, I will equally point that out.

#4 Just so you know, I classify myself as a "Realistic Optimist" ... I hope for the best but my judgments are grounded in reality.

Have a great week. I'm looking forward to the New Orleans game. BTW, I'm taking my nephew to the NY Jets game. ;0 CJ

7:39 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL:

You say ...

"After all the HCs, Al was the only one around during the last 5 crappy years, but you have got to please stop calling Al out on this"

Who picked these HCs? Enough said.

Later you say

"What would you do differently and how could you honestly think if Al stepped away or made other moves, things would be better off. He knows this game then and now."

Well for starters I would hire a competent, savvy GM. You do realize there are 32 teams in the NFL and only 1 doesn't have a GM.

Secondly, as the owner I would value and priortize having stability and continuity in the coaching ranks. Shuffling HCs out every year or 2 is a recipe for disaster.

How do you value & prioritize stability and continuity in the coaching ranks? By simply sticking with what you've started ... by giving the next HC 3 years to prove if he was the right choice.

My bottom line:

It has gotten to the point where I feel like it is a MIRACLE if a HC lasts more than 2 years. What is wrong with this picture? It is impeding our progress.

All you need to do is look at the last 20 years and you will quickly figure out that the 2 HCs with success (success = playoffs) were Shell I and Gruden. Shell lasted 5 years, Gruden 3. The other 8 HCs lasted 2 or less years.

I would love to see Cable be given the committment by Davis realizing that Cable will have his ups and downs but will be given every opportunity to truly grow on the job. Is it really asking too much to give Cable or any other HC he picks 3 solid years?

8:35 PM  
Anonymous The Raider said...

CJ,
I'm glad to read your reply and I do take notice in your support of the team, by pointing out all things good and bad. I'm just very tired of turning on the TV and watching the team get smeared with stats.
Reading it over and over on a great blog site like this was getting over-kill. I understand it seems to be the topic at hand and has been, but I guess now that I'm not so pissed off, I realize it is your site and right to write your opinion. I just wish we could beat the drum to another tune, until the full season has been completed.

We have lost more close battles than any team, under all of the recent coaches. Those close losses are enough to make any fan sick as hell. To constantly hear the media bringing up the win loss record is expected. Even if the team had won the last 2 games ... they would not point out the improvement and winning record. Instead, they would find all the negatives. Lane talking to the press (especially) outside of camp proved over and over that he could not handle it and was indeed using us as a stepping stone (ala-Gruden).
He ment well for the players and the coaches. He wanted to win. All HCs do. They want a good resume and to make a name for themselves. The main question: Do they 100% put the organization first? Lane is gone. All spoke the truth. It was uncomfortable at first, but it made sense with "cause" or not.

Raider blogs are everywhere and we as a nation are global, compared to any other team. Yes, in good times and in bad, we vent on solid respectable blog sites, just like yours, but it simply hurts to read so much negativity on a Raider blog, when we are moving in the right direction. The only thing missing, was finishing the games off. The only way to rectify it, is to evaluate any problems. Lane was a special talent, yet was the last problem, whom also lacked respect for the team, by putting his name in for the Arkansas job.

I sympathized with him(LK), thinking like most during early off-season: Was caveman dragging us down and holding us... not just the blitz back?

I've always been the one who changes the channel when idiots like Mortenson and pretty much everyone in the main stream media talks, because 1: they have always been Raider haters. 2: what they say (partially true or not at all) is irrelevant because what matters is what is said from the horses mouth. Meaning the current players, the current coaches and the life long supporters of the best GM in football history; Mr.Davis.

That brings me to this:

You might think I don't read between the lines. I'm not dodging the facts on how many HCs we had and how short their time was. I might be a Davis guy, but I disagree with some of his choices in the past. I absolutly hated the re-hire of Shell. Watching it all was the worst year in my Raider life. Almost as bad as watching Gruden hold up the Raider playbook and laughing after the Superbowl that could only be taken away from us, via playing him. Again, I hope to see someone on our team "accidentally" stiff arm him in the visor, in week 17.
Stablizing things? We are not stable. Never have been. Winning or not, we do things differently.
It worked in the 60s, the 70s, the 80's and in the 90's including 2000-2002.

I share your concern and agree with most of your opinions. Reality now, seems to be that we have our staff and player's minds off the question mark of Lane and back to winning and on playing smart for 4 quarters.
The other reality is that Davis is doing what he needs to do for the team. He won't be around much longer and he showed savvy in his many points on Lane and the media.

I need to point out again that Gruden was given tons of power as HC and he was the one to leave and ditch us all after 3 years. Al was respectful to Gruden and family, by allowing it and made the best of it for the team (draft picks, cash, holding on to the staff).

Yes, there are 31 GMs. "There are also 31 teams in the NFL, then there is the Oakland Raiders." Sorry, had to take one out of the old book.
Speaking of GMs (of sorts) ... Bruce Allen and Lombardi had similar roles as GMs do, just not the very last final say. They to unofficially sabotaged the progress of the team, by leaking info and leaving.

It is hard to find good help, so maybe that experiment of GM type people ended for a reason. Al's age has something to do with it, but there is one last thing to look at:
Davis leans towards life long football guys. Picking Lane is an example. Picking Jon is another. Both men love the game. Live the game.

They have one other thing in common: They put themselves above the Raiders. You can't do that in Raider-ville. Maybe other places, but not Oaktown. Gotta respect that.

Finally, I must say that listening to Al Davis over the years proves many points. The most valuable one as of late: He cuvets coaches that have a history of loving the Raiders. Turner did ... he suck around with enough time to prove something, so It seems to me at least, Cable will get the same treatment.

That is what it is.

Keep up the good work CJ

7:42 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL: You make a ton of good points and as always I respect your valued opinion. I have never questioned your loyalty to our beloved team. The main thrust of my commments was simply that it has been proven over the past 40 years that when the Raiders are successful, the team has a HC with a bare min. of 3 years tenure.

HC stability ... It might be considered a "is it a chicken before the egg" type arguement but it is valid, proven that the way a team gains traction, builds, and sustains excellence is ONLY when there is a HC in place for continuity purposes.

I'm like you in the fact I'm tired of the mainstream media constantly piliing on the Raiders, spinning negatives stories etc. but the reality of our situation is the Raider organization has been feeding that beast by a circus like atmosphere, constant HC turnover, and above all a piss poor record for 5+ consecutive seasons. How is perception changed? How do we start getting the respect and positive stories? Simply win. Winning truly solves all of the ill. It is the great equalizer.

How do we move forward? Take a look at my recent post and you will realize that against tall odds Cable needs to win his fair share of the remaining 12 games ... which leads to stability going forward into 2009. If we are back at the HC carousel come 2009 we are impeding any real progress.

Why my glass is half full:

I like Cable.

I like his leadership style. I have no doubts whatsoever about the entire team playing their guts out for him. The KEY barometer of Cable's success will be the Raiders ability to close out games, create a balanced offense, develop Russell. and yes, win a bare min. of 5 games.

I like our core group of players

especially some of our young rising stars (Russell, McFadden, Bush, Miller, Howard, Morrison) and our young developing players (JLH, Henderson, Brown). We have talent.

We need to find ways to win close games and close out games with 4th quarter leads. Is Cable the missing impetus? I sure hope so. Will Knapp improve our playcalling? Without question the playbook will open up and the training wheels will be taken off of Russell ... both good things.

As far as our much needed GM, I'm optimistic that Davis understands he needs some help ... it looks like he might make a serious play for McCloughlen or Gamble ... both capable 49ers front office executives.

We will all know about the heart and character of our team when we play NO. It is a great test to see what we are made of ... a tough opponent with a prolific, potent offense ... playing on the road immediately following the change of HC. It might be only 1 game but I'm riveted to find out if Cable is able to push the right buttons to get this team back on track.

10:59 PM  

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