Time For New Leadership

1 10 2008

by John Leon

For a once proud franchise, the Oakland Raiders have become a national joke and that’s not making the NFL happy. Not one bit. For a League that prides itself on how it’s run and the way it is perceived, the debacle that is the Raiders is embarrassing to the league, it’s fans, and all of us who are Raiders’ faithful.

I am unabashedly a Raiders Fan, always have been and probably always will be. Al Davis, who still runs the team, forged the way they used to conduct themselves. Davis was, and still is, forever entrenched in the lore of the NFL for his vision and foresight. The Raiders always acquired players that were considered cast-offs and renegades and Davis played that for all it was worth. Commitment to Excellence, Just Win Baby, etc. is part of the history in the NFL.

The three Super Bowls that they won are but a distant memory, as are the players that proudly wore the Silver and Black. Gone are “The Mad Bomber”, “The Stork”, Alzado, Matuszak, “The Snake” and Lester “The Molester”. In their place now resides a shell of what the franchise used to be about. The new players are so far removed of what the Raiders are supposed to be, they don’t even know the players that were part of those teams or how the team is portrayed. Davis has overseen the bad draft selections, the ridiculously bad contracts, and the overall demise of a once proud oranization.

Their 6th coach in the last 5 ½ years, Tom Cable, has the unenviable task of trying to set a better course. Coaches that once roamed the sidelines like Madden, Flores, and Davis himself are just folklore now. It’s a shame that one man has been the creator and the destroyer of a team like the Raiders.

The press conference detailing the firing of Lane Kiffin was embarrassing and absurd. Detailing the communications between the coach and owner like the weasel he has become, Davis certainly should hear from the League about his conduct. He probably has buried Kiffin from ever finding another job in the NFL, even though his father, Monte Kiffin of Tampa Bay, is one of the best defensive coordinators in league history.

Sadly, Davis is but a fading version of his former self. Still the maverick, but now instead of being a leader at the forefront of making the League stronger, he’s been a speed bump getting in the way of progress. This is not new as he’s been in the background but always visible for some time now.
It’s time for the League to get this sinking ship headed once again in the right direction. Maybe it will take the Commissioner to get the League’s Conduct Clause invoked upon Davis, much like MLB did when George Steinbrenner went after Dave Winfield and suspended him for a year. The Yankees fortunes went up after that and this could be the bandage that the Raiders need. Ironically, Steinbrenner and Davis share the same birthday, July 4.

The Raider Fans are legendary as they dress up “The Black Hole” when the team plays, but lately the Black Hole seems to be swallowing the franchise and Darth Davis seems to be willing to take his team to the dark side with him. Even as bad as Detroit has been with Matt Millen, they’ve actually been better run than the Raiders, and that’s really embarrassing.

It’s time for the NFL to step in and set a precedent. They need to get this franchise righted because the NFL needs the Raiders to be a viable option, not the joke they’ve become. They are the team everyone loves to hate, but when they act like they have been, it’s tough to feel anything but sorry.
Lately the NFL has become a League of 31 teams….and the Raiders.

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