As a Raider fan, I want nothing more than what's good for the team, and moves made in the best interest of the team are more important than looking good for the media. This is why, as a fan, I can no longer be upset with Al Davis, based on the press conference from yesterday and the horrible feeling that interview with Lane Kiffin gave me. Personally, I feel that there are a lot of things that are about to happen, and that this move may have been better for the team overall.
Now, no one is going to dispute that Lane Kiffin came into this franchise at one of (if not the) lowest point in it's storied history. He took a team that had clearly earned the right to the number 1 draft pick, and started the process of turning them around. This is where we have this idea of Lane Kiffin that may have clouded our judgement in this whole mess. I have a few laid out points that I feel people should consider before jumping in with Kiffin, and when determining the truth of Al's words versus what we've seen from Kiffin.
Exhibit 1: The duality of Kiffin in his approach to media distractions
I know people are going to say "what duality?" But bear with me, it came to me pretty quickly during the whole Mortenson thing and it just bugged me to investigate it a little bit. Lane Kiffin was always about not letting distractions bother the team, or so he said around the time that these Davis vs Kiffin storylines started to pop up. But when you look at the truth of the matter, who ended up in front of the media talking about this player or that player, the lack of moves in the front office, overpaying a player, etc. Kiffin was the first to talk about not being distraction, but also the first one to be a distraction through his words to the media.
Exhibit 2: Our opinion of Kiffin may be swayed easily by the timing of his hire.
Lane Kiffin was hired after the dismal, horrible Art Shell 2006 Raiders ended their sham of a season. There were very limited high points in that season, mainly that the defense didn't exactly lay down and that we pretty much could do better with anyone else at the helm than Shell. Enter: Lane Kiffin.
Not only did he deliver results with virtually the same team, he won a whole two more games than in 2006, and to this win starved fan base, that was enough to make Kiffin good as gold, and raise expectations this year. This upswell of popularity hid a few of the misgivings about Kiffin (his age, and the aforementioned duality), and almost served to shield him from blame in this whole mess.
Exhibit 3: The interview with Lane Kiffin on ESPN
This, in my opinion, is where it all went bad for Lane. He first, went for the emotional sway, by bringing up how hard it was for him and his family to go through all of this, and how they could hardly stomach the press conference and all of the things that were said. He also prefaced this a week or so ago by saying that this stress was hard on his pregnant wife. Well, this is an oft-used tactic of manipulators. They play on your emotions to get you to believe what they want you to believe, or sway you a certain way. I was almost instantly put off by that, and that he went to that rather than completely answer the question asked by Trey Wingo.
Now, the one answer that gets me is when Wingo asked about Al completely contradicting Kiffin's allegations that he hasn't talked to Al personally since before Denver on Monday night. Kiffin totally and completely dodged that question on TV, and I think that he was avoiding a lie on TV that could be used against him if he decides to sue for his unpaid contract money. It showed, in my mind, a bit of maneuvering on the part of Kiffin.
If all of the things Al Davis said were true (the recordings could be shown in court) then not only was Kiffin a two-faced manipulator, then he was also responsible for his own failures by neglecting the whole of his responsibility as a head coach. If Kiffin has been lying about not being in on defensive meetings, or not having a say in what players are signed/drafted (Russell notwithstanding), or whether or not he and Davis have spoken about anything...then Kiffin was truly dooming his self to lose all the way around.
The only bright spot in all of this is that a capable assistant, Tom Cable, is now the head coach of the Oakland Raiders on an interim basis. He has his goal and the strength to see it through. I doubt the offensive scheme will change much, but the playcalling will. He also has an idea about what it takes to win, and is committed to seeing this team return to the past greatness. This is good for the team, and provided that he doesn't let the O-Line slip any because of his promotion, this should be good.