Oakland Raiders

You Can Call Me Al’s Disciple

When Oakland Raider’s owner Al Davis tabbed Art Shell, the same Art Shell Davis fired eleven years ago, his new head coach, I could only muster a roll of the eyes.  This hiring reeked of a desperate old man reaching back into his past to try and save the future.  Then I watched the venerable Mr. Davis speak at his press conference and once again I found myself drinking the Silver & Black kool-aid.As a die hard member of the Raider Nation I yearned for another young and innovative offensive mind eager to prove he could lead a team ala Jon Gruden back in 1998.  Maybe Al would take a different route and pick someone as crazy and unpredictable as himself; Mad Mike Martz fits that profile.  At no time did the following thought cross my mind; “Maybe we should re-hire Art Shell.  Hell if it wasn’t for that 51-3 squeaker in the AFC Championship game he would have taken the Raiders to the Super Bowl.”  However that was Al’s thought exactly, well not the 51-3 thing, but the whole rehire Shell idea.  This wasn’t exactly a “Bill Parcells is the Raiders new coach!” moment in my mind.

The late Saturday afternoon press conference was about to start and I still hadn’t decided what I thought of the new hire.  The positives and negatives bounced around my noggin endlessly.  Shell was a winner in the past, but could he repeat that success a decade later?  Is he only in Oakland to serve as one of the many yes-men Davis surely employs on his staff?  Is that the same jumpsuit Al was wearing when he hired John Madden?  The questions were endless and then my world stopped as Mr. Davis spoke into the microphone for the first time.

Now for all of you Raider haters out there, yes I’m speaking to all those KC and Denver fans, the following truths of Al Davis can only be seen as foolish propaganda being served to the Raider Nation and maybe that is the case.  However this article’s title should prove to all readers that I am way past any moments of redemption and will always view the Raiders through some type of Silver & Black beer goggles.  Just let me explain the reasons why an Al Davis press conference always soothes my Raider anger and gives me optimism for the future.

First of all he is not very accessible to the media.  He rarely gives interviews during the season and only comes out for a press conference maybe once or twice per season.  In this age of media over-saturation a public man who shuns the spotlight is refreshing.  Sure he probably avoids the spotlight to keep from imploding into a pile of dust, but still the man knows how to hold an audience.  When Al does decide to speak it is always an event in the East Bay and his words definitely seem to carry a greater weight.  He is just like E.F. Hutton or maybe Silent Bob.

Yes Al’s interviews are filled with the typical Raider clichés about the organizations “Commitment to Excellence” and “Just Win Baby”, but when you get past the fluff there is substance in the man’s words.  On Saturday he spoke about how the Raiders have to get back to the stability of the John Madden and Tom Flores years.  He has seen how turning coaches over every few years is not conducive to winning, so the one way to bring back continuity is to lean on a man who he trusts and knows.  A man who is both familiar with Raider way and understands the uniqueness of the organization, an individual who is a proven winner as both a player and as a head coach, a field general who can instill the toughness into a team and lead them into battle.  That man is Art Shell.  How can you argue with that logic?  Denver, Kansas City and San Diego fans please refrain from answering.

Al Davis is also not the typical NFL owner.  He did not buy his NFL team to play real life fantasy football.  His resume includes time as an assistant coach, a head coach and he also was the commissioner of the AFL for a period.  He has been living and breathing football, and specifically his beloved Raiders, for over a half century.  People everywhere may think he is crazy, but that wealth of experience holds a wee bit of gravitas in my mind.  Three Lombardi trophies in Al’s closet don’t hurt either.

Finally and most fittingly Al only does things his way…the Raider way.  He explained in the press conference his interview process which goes against the grain of most NFL schools of thought.  His is a process that might take a period of time and several interviews.  Most teams have a name in mind before ever sitting down with the man to fully understand his football philosophies.  One interview and boom…the coach is tackled and brought in before anybody else gets his hands on him.  Al takes his time and conducts thorough, mind numbing sessions to select the man he wants.  It took Jon Gruden three interviews to finally land the job back in 1998.  Now I’m not a general manager and for me to say which way is the best…I have no idea.  The point is while the rest of the teams are usually too afraid to break the norms of NFL society; Al Davis runs his ship his way.

The next time you get a chance to witness an Al Davis press conference take it all in and see what you think.  I’m sure the masses will just laugh and tune out the crazy old man, but that’s okay.  That is just the way the Raider Nation and Al likes it.  It’s Silver & Black against the world baby!  Bring it on Denver!  Bring it on KC!  Wait a second here…I need a big swig of that kool-aid again.  Al is about to explain how Kerry Collins is the QB to lead the Raiders to the Promised Land.  I might be drinking for a long while.

3 replies on “You Can Call Me Al’s Disciple”

silent bob love the silent bob reference. hate the raiders (b/c im from across the bay in sf) but good article regardless.

The City Thanks for the props on the article.  I lived in the SF for 7 years.  Love the city, hate the niners.

right on the money for Al Davis to suck in that huge ego and admit he screwed up by rehiring Shell just shows that he is at the end of the road.

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