“Just win baby?” as famously coined by the one and only Al Davis, the one time coach, former general manager and forever owner (I hope not) of the Oakland Raiders. The proud franchise, steeped in tradition and legend, has recently been reduced to the laughingstock of the National Football League. The once famous Black Hole is nothing but a pile of mud to walk through, and a once proud organization is in shambles. Though I profess I’m not a fan of the Raiders (Go Patriots!), I am, however, a fan of the game of football and it pains me to see that such a great franchise has been reduced to its present state.
Since their Super Bowl appearance back in 2002, the Oakland Raiders are 14-41 going into week nine of the 2006 NFL season. To put this in context, the New England Patriots have won that many games in a single season twice (2003-2004, 2004-2005). This is a string of mediocrity that is matched only by the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals (17-38). Each year a new coach, each year new big acquisitions, each year nothing but losses for this team; something has to be done, and it begins at the top.
1) Al Davis Must Go! – I love ya baby, but it’s over. Al Davis, radical (radically crazy) owner of the Raiders since 1970, helmed one of the most successful teams in NFL history, but, in recent years, that same brilliance that won 13 division championships between 1970 and 1985 has sunk his team into the cellar. Not only is Davis’s health a concern, his choices on head coaches over the last decade have been ill-advised. Davis can never let a coach have the bigger ego or more respect, the one who did (John Gruden) was fired when the team was on the cusp of a championship, and the one after (Norv Turner) was thrown under the bus more times than old coffee cups and thus never gained the respect of the players. I know that its killing Al Davis to see his team in such a state after all the success that he’s experienced as both a coach and an owner, but it’s time to move on. Al, it’s over – you’re a Hall of Famer, and the game has passed you by. Please leave.
2) Fire Vince Spiderman McMurrin (Yes that is his name)- The GM is in charge of the draft, and in the last four years the Raiders picks have been the worse year after year – picks like Nnamdi Asomugha over Pro Bowlers Anquan Boldin and Osi Umenyiora in 2003 and the bust Robert Gallery in 2004. But it’s not just the bad calls on first rounders, it’s rounds 2-7 that make a team, and the Raiders have retained the fewest number of their picks than any other team. You can’t waste picks, but that’s exactly what the Raiders have been doing. And that great trade for Randy Moss, five wins and you lose a first and second round pick and a solid linebacker in the process. In addition to the abysmal drafts, the free agent signings are just as much to blame. Overpriced contracts to Warren Sapp and Ted Washington on the defensive line killed the salary cap of the team. I know Al Davis coined those deals, but it’s the GM that makes them, no matter who the owner is.
3) Cut your hair! – The Raiders have the air and reputation of being a team of free spirits, but it’s this lack of discipline that has caused so many off-field issues in the past. These distractions never give a coach or a team a break from the madness, so their heads are never in the game on game day. Guys like Randy Moss, Joey Porter, Bill Romanowski, all players with bad on and off field records were brought in. (Oh yeah, Arty, even though Porter is coming back, don’t play him, please? For me?) The Raiders lack discipline off the field, and you can see it on the field. The Raiders are third in the AFC in penalties and have had more penalties in the last four years than any other team. Is it any wonder why they aren’t winning?
4) Stability – Since Al Davis has been owner in 1983; the Raiders have had seven head coaches (including Art Shell twice).
I miss the old Raiders. I miss Howie Long, Marcus Allen and John Madden. I miss good football in the Bay area. I see no future for this team – no quarterback, an old defense, a second string running back doing his best impression of being a first and an owner that’s never going to give his coach a chance to win. Sorry Al, “Just win baby?” just isn’t enough anymore.
Wang is a member ofthe class of 2009.