From Jerry McDonald below, Al Davis in a very candid post press conference interview with reporters covered many topics that have been misreported or one-sided until now.
Very interesting on Kiffin's "coaching" of Russell and Henderson. Very clear Kiffin was a mistake of Davis, but Kiffin's sabotage and betrayal of the team is indefensible.
I really believe we are going in the right direction now with a great young talent base and a very experienced coaching staff that will teach our young players the game at the pro level and how to win. Cable now has everything in place without all the BS off season distractions of last year.
Biggest pre-draft concerns: signing all of our own free agents.
– Davis saved his only expletive for a question having to do with whether Lane Kiffin ever got paid the remainder of his season’s salary after being fired “ for cause.”
“(Bleep) no,” Davis said.
Back on Sept. 30, Davis said Kiffin’s firing was because of his lies and not his job performance. He amended that a bit when asked why it took the Raiders so long to use the younger players Davis spoke glowingly about.
“(Kiffin) wouldn’t do it,” Davis said.“That’s why he got fired.”
– When asked if he regretted not firing Kiffin before the season started, Davis said, “I tried to reason with the guy. I thought we could get something out of him and I wanted to push it through to see if I could push it through.
“I guess it was my stubborness too but he was bad. He was a liar, flat out, which I told you. I’ve never broken away from it. They know it. The players know it. He would lie to them about things and all he wanted to do was get out of here, get his money. If I had made the move at the start of the season I’m not sure I would have had cause.”
In other words, much of the season was lost over the amount of money a coach Davis didn’t want was to be paid.
– More Cable vs. Kiffin:
“(Cable) has a passion for the thing, which a lot of these others, they have a passion for the authority it gives them or focus with you people,” Davis said. “That guy would kill us every day. Jerry would listen to him every day. We took a left tackle and didn’t play him the whole season because he was my pick . . . the couple of games he played he dominated the game. He dominated Gaines Adams and Mario Williams.”
The “Jerry” Davis is talking about is yours truly. The left tackle is Mario Henderson, who was criticized by the coach in the press.
I plead guilty for actually listening and reporting what the head coach says. Silly me. I thought it was part of the job.
– Cable, Davis said, initially met some reluctance from staffers when trying to work younger players into the lineup.
“Tom tried to start breaking it in but there was resistance from certain assistants and they’re not here,” Davis said. “There was resistance and there’s always resistance when you have a veteran who’s there, who knows you, who’s been with you. But yeah I wanted to go young, I really did.”
– Davis gave a fond farewell to Rob Ryan, not so much for offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
“Rob goes to Cleveland and they’re bragging on him. They got Rob Ryan,” Davis said. “Greg Knapp, who we had the worst pass offense in the league two years in a row, they’re bragging on him in Seattle. Here, no one bragged on those guys. But I didn’t try with Rob. He’s a good friend. I thought it was time for him to move on.”
– Scratch Bruce Allen as the potential front office “mystery hire.” When Allen left for Tampa Bay following the 2003 season, Davis shrugged it off and noted the departures of personnel execs Ron Wolf and Steve Ortmayer, both of whom returned to the fold and were considered “family.”
“I didn’t say Bruce was family,” Davis said.
– Sounds like Davis has prevailed upon Cable to make some adjustments in his strict zone blocking scheme.
“I just felt his excellence in the offensive line was ever in doubt, did well with them, although it was a zone blocking scheme, which he’s talked about improving on, with some power, getting some power in there,” Davis said.
That could mean Cable’s offensive line hire doesn’t necessarily have to be schooled heavily in zone blocking, and it also opens the Raiders up in terms of the draft with offensive linemen of more girth than they currently employ.
– Davis was excited about the play of Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens both during and after the press conference and seemed to resist the notion that the Raiders would look to snap up a receiver with the No. 7 pick.
“Someone the other day said we gotta go get a receiver,” Davis said. “Who was it who said we should have drafted Calvin Johnson instead of JaMarcus Russell? (Detroit’s) record was 0-16 last year with Calvin Johnson. Then they said we should have drafted Larry Fitzgerald but the year we didn’t draft Fitzgerald we drafted a guy who was considered the best offensive lineman in the draft (Robert Gallery) and we had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter, who everyone had thought had greatness in his future.”
– Davis returned fire on two former players who have have been critical of the organization in their roles as television analysts.
When asked about Warren Sapp, Davis said, “I gave Tommy Kelly $40 million and didn’t give it to him. . . . The funny thing is Sapp begged to have the preseason TV and I wouldn’t do it because he’s off the handle. You don’t know what he’s going to say. He made it up to me on his TV shows.
As for Rich Gannon, Davis said, “Rich played the greatest game in Super Bowl history in 1992 (he was 10 years off). Just joking. Rich was very nice to us on TV in that last game when we beat Tampa, wasn’t he? He writes me notes that he’d like to assist. More ex-Raiders would like to come back here and work than you could imagine.”
– If cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is franchised, Davis said it would be with the “exclusive” designation again, meaning he couldn’t negotiate with another team. He acknowledged bringing back both Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler will be difficult, but not impossible.
– Davis shrugged off any concern over the work ethic of Russell.
“I think JaMarcus can be a great player. I’m not interested in what you’re talking about,” Davis said. “Let me tell you something. Go back to the 70s and the 80s I had a guy here by the name of Stabler. You talk about work ethic. But he could win.”
– Davis minimizes the losing of the the last six years as if it were a streak of near .500 seasons rather than the 24-72 (.250) abyss which is one of the low points in the history of the NFL.
“When we started 2000, 2001, 2002, I thought we had a chance to run this decade,” Davis said. “We didn’t do it. It slipped away from us and we became mediocre and didn’t do it.”
– Not sure if Al reads the comments, but apparently he reads this blog, based on his light-hearted response when I asked if Tim Brown had contacted him about joining the organization in some capacity.
“We’ve got a lot of guys out there Jerry. Even you, I talked about you,” Davis said. “I read your blog, I say, we ought to bring this guy in.”