Saturday, October 08, 2011

Words on Al Davis

Just as Al Davis has appeared in his owner's box for years, with Iron Man Jim Otto flanking him...

Al Davis is the Raiders. It is hard to imagine it otherwise, though I suppose we shall all have to try. After all, as Al always maintained, the Greatness of the Raiders Lies in Its Future...

On this day which saddens all our hearts, I am stunned and at a loss for words. So to properly gauge his impact on football, here are words collected from various other sources about Al Davis prior to his passing this morning:

If you need a friend, there’s no better friend than Al Davis. He’s my best friend. I’ve always said that if I even needed anything and I had one phone call, it would be to Al Davis.
~ John Madden

“If somebody wants a chance, Al Davis is the greatest at giving them a chance. There are a lot of people that talk about things and never do anything. Al doesn’t talk at all … He just does it.”
~ John Madden

"He was one of the great coaches I have ever observed ... a truly great coach, had he chosen to remain in coaching, he would be considered one of the great coaches of all time."
~ Bill Walsh

"Al Davis is the smartest man I ever met”
~ Bill Parcells

"The Raiders were about giving people second chances, they were about giving chances to people the mainstream wouldn't give a chance. They had a willingness to look beyond the color of someone's skin, reputation, and beyond someone's past. I see a willingness to do things the Raiders' way, not the way society dictates. Look at what Al Davis has done. He hired the first Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores), the first black head coach (Art Shell), and now me(first woman executive). It's not a coincidence. People in sports talk a lot about inclusiveness and giving people opportunities. While they talk, I only see one person doing it. Al is the last person on Earth who'd do this for a pat on the back. A pat on the back would annoy him. He does it for the right reasons."
~ Amy Trask

“I love being a Raider. I grew up liking them. My family members were BIG Raiders fans and for me, to have the opportunity to play for them is like a dream come true. I like everything about them...the Black and Silver...the fans...the commitment to excellence... Al Davis... I like everything about the Raiders!”
~ Tory James

Al Davis is a legend and his contribution and influence on the game of football, the National Football League, and the Oakland Raiders has been profound for decades. To view his contribution and influence on a season-by-season basis does not make sense: he has dominated the industry for a lifetime. I can't tell you how he may have impacted or guided other individuals during their careers but I can speak from personal experience: he inspires me to be better every day than I was the day before."
~ Amy Trask

"My only Regret is that I played in Los Angeles so late in my career. Al Davis was very loyal and encouraging to all his players when I was there."
~ Lyle Alzado

"When it comes to being a gentleman, when it comes to treating their players like men, when it comes to being champions-no other team comes close...Everything stems from Al Davis, everything. He's the kind of guy you want on your side."
~ John Matusak

"There were a number of games in those days that were going to be played in the South that I refused to play in. And he (Al Davis) canceled them. That told me what type of individual I was dealing with."
~ Art Powell

"I always tell people that I was extremely fortunate to play for three of the greatest coaches ever: Webb Ewbank, Hank Stram and Al Davis."
~ Cotton Davidson

"He is always for the players, so it was really easy to play for him and want to win for him."
~ Rod Sherman

"I still feel very close to Al Davis...It's always been like a father-son relationship."
~ Ray Guy

"I love the man(Al Davis). He's true to the word. I'd die for the man. I love him to death."
~ Mickey Marvin

“In 1976, I was cast as Apollo Creed. It was the role that changed my acting career. In 1970, I met a man who changed my life forever. That year I became a part of Al Davis’s legendary Oakland Raiders organization as a rookie linebacker.”
~ Carl Weathers

“Al Davis is ahead of his time in everything he does. His innovations in offense was fantastic. He’s an all-around football man.”
~ Jim Otto

“Al had great vision. He could see down where the game was headed or where it should be headed.”
~ Tom Flores

“A lot of people think of Al Davis as a maverick. He’s also a maverick in opening up opportunities for minorities.”
~ Brad Pye, Jr., Former AFL administrative assistant, first African-American administrator in football

“I’d say he’s a trailblazer. He had no color barrier.”
~ Dr. Aaron C. Wade, former AFL official, first African-American official

“Hiring (minority) coaches, players, this is something he did over the years. This is not something new where he came to some politically correctness in the 1990s.”
~ Willie Lanier

“I think Al Davis opened up the game up. I think he opened the game up for the African- American athlete.”
~ Dennis Green

“He’s a pioneer, in terms of getting black players to play and letting them be the best they can be.”
~ Willie Brown

“I came to know Al as someone that lived by a certain code and this code was to judge everybody by their content of their character and capabilities and nothing else. That’s the code that I detected at the time and I think it’s stayed with him throughout the years.”
~ Bernie Custis, Black quarterback and teammate of Al Davis at Syracuse University, 1948-50

"It was Sid Gilman and Al Davis who said here’s an opportunity to give these people (black players) a chance to play.”
~ Gene Upshaw

“Al found a ton of good players in the black schools.”
~ George Atkinson

“Al’s word was important. If he’s tell you something, this is it.”
~ Eddie Robinson

“It’s hard to think he did it to help blacks. He was looking to give a guy an opportunity whether he was black or white.”
~ Lance Alworth

“Al has always said the golden rule is not good enough. That is, ‘Don’t treat people the way you would like to be treated, treat people how they want to be treated.’’
~ Al LoCasale

“He’s a very passionate guy. He believes if you’re good to him then he’ll be good to you. I think players like the idea of being loyal to be something.”
~ Mike Haynes

“I think the world of Mr. Davis. He's been good for the league and the players. He's been great to me. I know the feeling is mutual. The style of play suited me with the long pass. We made it work together. It was a lot of fun.”
~ Jim Plunkett

I personally like Al Davis a lot. He's a great owner and he's great to play for as long as you play hard. The reason why I like Al is because he's dedicated to winning. He's a football guy.”
~ Jack Tatum

"Before I came here, there was always the rumors of the "Al Davis Factor." Since becoming a Raider two years ago, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Davis. He's only owner in the league that truly has an understanding of a coach's position. And that's a real benefit to us.”
~ Chuck Bresnahan

“Big Al is a stud. He really cares about his players. Al Davis is a good man. Aside from what the media thinks. I wish everyone had a chance to meet him face-to-face and see what he is really like.”
~ Jeremy Brigham

“I've enjoyed the relationship that I have with him (Al Davis). He's been very good to me as a person and as a player on the team. I've really enjoyed being with the Raiders and his organization.”
~ Greg Biekert

“I like Mr. Davis a lot. I respect him. He's just a straight forward guy and he tells it like it is. He understands what you want and you must understand what he wants. We have a good relationship."
~ Marcus Ray

“I think that Mr. Davis is one of the fathers of the game of football. Think of what he did for the AFL and build it to what it is. How he talked about the long ball and brought a certain toughness to the NFL, the Silver and Black and what it represents. You have to look back and think about all of the men who gave everything for the sport of football and you have to mention him as one of the pioneers of the game.”
~ Ronnie Lott

“I think no offense to ESPN or anybody else, you don't know Al Davis like the players do. The media gets it wrong a lot. Most of his players looked up to him."
Otis Sistrunk

“It’s more of a personal thing to where you come in and you have respect for let’s say the tradition of the Raiders. You go to San Diego, which they had some tradition but not as intense as the Raiders. First of all our Raider fans, I’ve seen fans all through college, the World League and other teams that we play against and it’s amazing how our fans are, the intensity of our fans. It just gives you a totally different outlook for the team you play for, more so ever it’s a sense of pride to be able to be affiliated with a team like the Raiders and say your part of them, the family. Mr. Davis, do you know how much he has done for the NFL. He stands there on the sidelines shaking your hand and wishing you good luck, do you know how many guys would like to have that opportunity?”
~ Leo Araguz

"I'm very excited . Who doesn't want to be a Raider? If you talk to 90 percent of the guys in the college ranks and in pro football, everybody wants to be a Raider. Coming out of college (Nebraska in 1984), they were one of the teams I wanted to play for. Who wouldn't want to wear the silver and black?"
~ Irving Fryar

“These are the greatest fans. These people will follow you to Alaska if they have to. It got so loud, my helmet was rumbling. It just feels good to have that type of support, faces painted and everything else. All the negative stuff that's said about our fans, they can wash that out. We have fanatic fans, loyal fans."
~ Tyrone Wheatley

"I work for a man who is gender-blind, he's color-blind, age-blind. He walks the walk of equality of opportunity. In this organization, your race, your gender and your age are irrelevant. Either you are a Raider or you are not."
~ Amy Trask

"Tradition is not a word but a style to him. He really believes once a Raider, always a Raider. Once a guy has played for us, whatever he needs, we do our best for him. But he does this quietly, not looking for publicity."
~ Al LoCasale

"When I was released last week I made a call. It was to Al Davis. I left a message with his secretary for him to call me back. He didn't call me back but his secretary called me back and she said, 'Al thinks you would look good in silver and black.' I called her back again and said, 'let him know that I would do anything to be a Raider and I want to help him win another Super Bowl' He called me later that night, we talked for about a half hour. I got off the phone thinking, this guy's a football guy. This guy truly cares about his players and I'm excited at the opportunity to go out there and see what this organization is about and to possibly be a part of it.''
~ Bill Romanowski

“It was a great honor to come out and talk with Mr. (Al) Davis. I spent time with Bruce Allen and Amy (Trask) ... there are always experiences that make you a better coach and give you a better insight either to yourself or your profession, and that was certainly one of them."
~ Bill Belichick

"Al's interview was not like any other I had been through before. He changed gears constantly. His questions went from left field to right field, from shortstop to second base," Gruden wrote. "His interviewing technique was magnificent. It was a stimulating, awesome line of questioning from a man who knew all there is to know about the NFL, including the salary cap, which other owners, club executives and coaches still have a hard time figuring out. He had seen it all in football."
~ Jon Gruden

"The greatness of the Raiders is in the future..."
~ Al Davis

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Draft Bias is Obvious

It is clear the so-called "draft experts" - especially ESPN - have a bias against the Raiders. Now that we've had a few days to absorb the draft picks, several things jump out at me as being unequal treatment...

Nobody slammed the Chiefs for reaching for DE Tyson Jackson, yet the "experts" universally slammed the Raiders for taking DHB.

If you look at all the pre-draft info out there, I challenge you to find anyone who had Tyson Jackson rated as the #3 overall player. Most sources had Brian Orakpo rated higher amongst DEs. Most sources had Tyson Jackson rated as a midround talent ~ around #15 or so.

This situation is similar to the Raiders reaching for DHB. Most sources had another WR rated higher than DHB and most had him as a midround talent too. Yet no one bagged on the Chiefs selection... why?

Several things come to mind:

First, everyone said what a great fit Jackson is for Chief's GM Scott Pioli and their 3-4 Defensive scheme. He was probably the best 3-4 DE in the draft. But this doesn't explain the difference in the way the picks were treated.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (DHB) is certainly a great fit for the Raiders' vertical game Offense. DHB is probably the best home run threat at WR. But the Raiders weren't congratulated as finding the player who best fits their scheme, the Chiefs were...

Second, everyone gave Scott Pioli the benefit of the doubt because he comes from the *Patriots organization. They also bashed Al Davis because he comes from the Raiders.

Having ties to Bill Belichick is great and all, but look at the "prodigies" that have come from Belichick's system: Charlie Weiss, offensive "genius" has blown monkey chunks at Notre Dame. Romeo Crenel has done nothing with the Browns - they don't even know if Charlie Weiss' QB is their starter. Eric Mangini already got fired in his first HC gig with the Jets and is now trying to mop up Crennel's mess.

If you look at it objectively, Bill Belichick looks like a genius, but his coaches and staff don't look like much on their own. They've failed. Why would Pioli be any different? Al Davis has been a scout, HC, GM, and owner in this league for 45 years. Wouldn't he deserve the benefit of the doubt over Pioli, who is running a draft without Belichick for the first time - a rookie?

Third, many of the experts had Tyson Jackson penciled in as the Chiefs pick (some had Aaron Curry). When Jackson was indeed picked, he made the "experts" look smart because they had predicted this outcome.

Few of the "experts" besides Lombardi had the Raiders taking DHB. When DHB was the pick, he made the experts look "stoopid" because they hadn't predicted this scenario.

We all know that ESPN is in Bristol, Connecticut and that they hype the local teams incessantly. The Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics all receive a lot more hype on that station than other teams.

But the truth is, if you rearrange things, and had Scott Pioli or Bill Belichick making the same picks the Raiders did, they would have treated the same picks differently.

Ask yourself, if the Raiders drafted all high-character players this time for a change, why aren't the "experts" applauding Tom Cable for changing the environment in Oakland and getting Al Davis to sign off on these types of players?

Ask yourself, if the Raiders traded back to get Mike Mitchell, scoring 4th and 6th round picks in the process, why all the hang ups about "value" for the pick?

With the 4th round pick, we got Louis Murphy. Murphy was a WR generally predicted to go somewhere in the 2nd-3rd round... With the 6th round pick, we got Stryker Sulak, a DE-OLB hybrid guy with character, the kind of player the *Patriots pick all the time as a LB. So if we got three picks for our #2, why all the negativity about "value"?

Ask yourself, if the *Patriots made our picks, how would they have been treated?

Some of the criticism is warranted. The Raiders haven't been good since the SB of '02 and many of our draft picks haven't turned out as expected. But the assumption that just because its the Raiders it has to be crazy, stoopid, insert derogatory comment here is just ridiculous.

People like Chris Carter turning DHB into the running joke of the day with his "honorable mention" comment over and over and over is just plain mean. DHB didn't pick himself. Why would it be acceptable for a TV analyst to insult the kid when it is the biggest day of his life being drafted?

The kid has never gotten into any trouble, yet when prompted, Chris Carter says the Raiders shoulda picked Percy Harvin over DHB because Harvin had college production and DHB didn't. You can't be serious! PERCY HARVIN? That's who Carter thinks shoulda been the Raiders pick? The player with reportedly the worst character in the draft? You thought DHB brought criticism, imagine if we actually HAD drafted Harvin...

It is what it is. The Haterade is flowing. I hope Mitchell and DHB light it up, so "experts" like Chris Carter and Mel Kiper are exposed for what they are, mediots

Monday, October 22, 2007


Greeting my Raider brothers and sisters!

Unfortunately unforeseen circumstances in my personal life (yes, I do have one) leave me unable to devote enough time my usual rabid Raider obsession to pen coherent articles on this site and as a Raidernews columnist. Hence, The Raider Way and Under the Black Flag will not be updated regularly this season. I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause any of you.

Until I can be back in action consistently, remember to get your Raider fix at Raidernews, RaiderTake, Silver'n'Black Forever, and Fans In Black. I highly recommend all these sites as relieable places to get your Raider on.

Until then, keep the faith and remember to drink your Stickum, boys and girls! It will help you grow up to have strong bones and teeth and stick to the opponent like Gorilla Glue. And don't worry, I stll brush my teeth with the stuff every morning...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Remembering Coach Walsh

Today is a sad day for Raiders everywhere. One of our own has died.

Though he is better known as Head Coach of the team across the Bay, many do not realize Bill Walsh began his NFL coaching career in 1966 as Offensive Backs Coach under then Head Coach, Al Davis. As you know, once a Raider, always a Raider. Coach Walsh remained a friend of Al Davis and the Raiders until his untimely demise today from symptoms related to leukemia.

While in Oakland, Davis taught Walsh the Sid Gillman offense he had learned in San Diego. The premise of the Gillman offense is stretch the field vertically. Walsh took this premise and modified it to stretch the field horizontally.

This offense is what is commonly referred to as the "West Coast Offense" nowadays, and a version of it is currently being installed in Oakland by Lane Kiffin. To put it plainly, Walsh's system revolutionized the way the game of football is played today. Verily, most of the teams in the NFL currently run or have run a version of Walsh's offense. The term 'genius' is often found in sentences with Walsh's name in them for a reason.

To get some input into this system, Kiffin called upon Al Davis to contact his friend and invite him to Raider practice. Walsh was at Raider practice just a month ago. You can see pictures of Walsh in Raider gear with JaMarus Russell and Coach Kiffin here (June 14, minicamp day 3, images 8 and 9).

Kiffin had this to say about Walsh's visit just a month ago:

"It was important for me to get him over here to practice. It's one thing to ask a question. It's another thing to have him watch practice and get some thoughts from him on what he's seeing out there. I've spent some time preparing for him.

What can't you get out of that? To have him over here was great."
~ Lane Kiffin

Bill Walsh once said of Al Davis:

"He was one of the great coaches I have ever observed ... a truly great coach. Had he chosen to remain in coaching, he would be considered one of the great coaches of all time."
~ Bill Walsh

The same can be said of Walsh, for there is no question Bill Walsh is one of the great coaches of all time. Our condolences to his family and friends - our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Read more about Walsh's life here.

See Al Davis' press conference regarding Bill Walsh in two parts, here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Much thanks to Ben in NJ for the tip on the interview!

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Treuth

About this time every year players get cut. It is one of the worst aspects of football as only 53 players can make the roster. We sure remember Pete Banaszak getting nervous and jerky. As Pete said, "I was always worried that I was going to be cut as sure as God made green apples. Funny that I ended up being a Raider as long as anybody."

Like Banaszak, Adam Treu made his living as a Raider by being a role player. Treu made certain the snaps to Janikowski and Lechler were always spot on. While we worried about everything else last season - including and especially the Center --> QB exchange - we never worried about having one of those Tony Romo moments with a snap on a kick.

The reason? Treu got it done for a decade. The longest tenured player on the team, Treu made it through countless changes to the coaching staff. Treu started out with the great Joe Bugel as his Head Coach back in the day. His longevity in the face of having to ingratiate himself to a new head coach regularly speaks to Treu's ability to be a team player.

That said, one writer decided to speculate on the cause of Treu being cut this week. The speculation can be found here. It says:

"I wonder if the Raiders' late-minute release of center Adam Treu was because of his 11 years in the league, diminishing skills or just maybe because he was the guy who blew the whistle on the new coaches for practicing too intensely this spring. At least one player suggested the last reason was the one that ended his Raiders career. As he said, 'Anyone holding to the old ways we worked is going to be gone.' "

As you know, the Raider coaching staff lost a week of practices because they were reportedly too hard on the players, as described here.

While Pat Kirwan is a friend of Lane Kiffin and his reports on the Raiders are generally pretty unbiased and accurate, Kirwan's rumor that Treu might be the one who snitched on the Raider coaching staff to the NFLPA for practicing too hard seems pretty far fetched to Raider fans who follow the team closely. Treu just isn't that kind of guy.

So here is a reply to the rumors from the family:

"Shame on any of you who would think that about Adam. Rumors just kill me and this one has the potential to stick. Comments about his ability or his speed or his snaps are fine . . . but this?? No way.

Of all the things Adam could've called in over 10 seasons, this is the one they're going with? He was in the training room the entire offseason since his quad tendon snapped off of his kneecap and had to be surgically reattached with cables and screws.

This past week has been difficult enough so to have his name attached to something like this has been rough.

Pat Kirwan needs a spanking and not the kind of spanking he's probably into.

It's simply NOT true. Please spread the word.

Thanks so much!"

~ Tracy Treu

So we see, the unfortunate truth is Adam Treu was cut due to the lingering effects of a torn quadriceps tendon. For the first time in his ten-year career, last season Treu was unable to play. This week, Adam was unable to pass a physical; the years of wear and tear on his knees finally caught up.

The Raiders do not typically make a statement at the release of one of their players (e.g., you will not find statements at the release of Courtney Anderson, Jarrod Cooper, etc.). The fact they did for Treu tells you something about the esteem the organization holds him in. This statement can be found here.

It says:

“In the excellence of The Oakland Raiders over the last 10 years, Adam certainly made an indelible contribution.”
~ Al Davis

We wish Adam and the Treu family all the best in the future and thank him for his service and are happy to know the treuth.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Draft Wrap Up

For a good analysis of all the Raiders picks, check out my man Ed's job here.