I have a strong belief in respect, for God, for life, for friends and enemies, the price of gas, and Al Davis.
Full disclosure; I covered the Raiders for two seasons and still have some close friends on the team. I have never spoken to or met Al Davis in a one-on-one setting — that is very rare in his world.
But the one thing I took from my time around the Raiders was that you do not cross the blurred lines of loyalty put down by "Mr. Davis." No matter what you think or feel about Davis, you know he is loyal to his people, almost to a fault. You almost never see Al throw a guy under the bus, not Darrell Russell or Sebastian Janikowski, Todd Marinovich or Randy Moss. But Lane Kiffin?
This is why it is so perplexing to me that Davis blasted Kiffin on a very public stage Tuesday. His aggressive approach to the Kiffin ordeal caught me off guard. I have rarely seen Davis so flustered, so ruffled, so unsettled, and to be so in public was really rare. It shows you just how personal this whole thing became.
Kiffin wanted out, and Davis wanted him out but did not want to eat his contract, so he set him up to fail. Or did he? Who do you believe? I can see both sides of it. Kiffin was so fed up with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme that he went public with his desire to fire Ryan. However, Davis says Kiffin did that only so he could bring in his father, Monte, from Tampa to run the defense.
Was Kiffin the leak in the Raiders organization, as Davis claims? I believe Kiffin was the leak on some things, but I know for sure he was NOT on others. Did Kiffin feed ESPN's Chris Mortensen bad info? I believe so. Did Mort eat that up? I also believe that to be the case. But didn't Al say during his sorta but not really coherent rant that he set Kiffin up to feed Mort? I think so. Lets call that a draw.
And Mr. Davis, will you please get a grip? If Lane Kiffin did all you said, if we believe every word you said at Tuesday's news conference, you made one of the worst coaching hires in the history of the NFL. Do you get that? Cut Lane a check and call it a $2 million lesson.
Al Davis is in the Hall of Fame, he is a pioneer, a legend and a three-time Super Bowl champion. Al Davis built the Raiders into one of the most successful franchises in all of sports. With that success, with that glory, comes a great deal of responsibility. I am beginning to wonder if Al is capable of handling that kind of pressure. For the first time in his life, Al Davis has to prove to the world that he is capable and competent, that he has some idea of what is going on in his world.
For the last 45 years nobody has been able to question Al Davis, until now. It is almost sad to ask the question: Are the Raiders better off without Al Davis running the ship?
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