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It Looks Like Al Is Rebuilding His Fortress:

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One thing about Al Davis that ALL of his former players and coaches SHOULD know is that he is a man that takes loyalty to the point of an Old Italian Don.

He is the type of man that sees loyalty as the number one thing in his business. It just so happens that his business is a Professional football team.

Enter, young Lane Kiffin. Last season Al Davis hired Lane and stated that he saw a lot of his younger self in the 31 year old coach. Little did he know how right he was!!!

You see, Al Davis joined the Raiders as GM and Head Coach at 33 years of age after they had won only 3 of it's last 28 games and he ended up eventually controlling all football operations!!! That is a position that the 32 year old Kiffin seems to already want!!!

"After the 1962 season, Valley hired Al Davis, a former assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers, as head coach and general manager. At 33, Davis was the youngest person in professional football history to hold the positions. Davis changed the team colors to silver and black, primarily because those colors stood out in an era when most people watched football games on black-and-white television sets. Under Davis the Raiders improved to 10-4, and he was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 1963. Though the team slipped to 5-7-2 in 1964, it rebounded to an 8-5-1 record in 1965.

In early 1966, Davis left the Raiders and became Commissioner of the AFL. His actions as Commissioner, together with the favorable contract negotiated with the NBC television network, resulted in the landmark AFL-NFL merger, whereby the NFL agreed to include all ten AFL franchises in an expanded 26-team NFL. The merger, however, left Davis embittered. He had envisioned a professional football landscape not unlike that of Major League Baseball, with two independent leagues sharing a common draft and playing a championship game at the end of the season. He felt betrayed by the AFL owners, who jumped at the chance to extinguish the newer league so they could receive NFL franchises. He resented the fact that a "football man," like himself, was subject to the whim of owners whose expertise was far outside the realm of the game. Davis' goal, therefore, was to become an owner himself.

With the merger, the position of AFL Commissioner was no longer needed, and Davis entered into discussions with Valley about returning to the Raiders. On July 25, 1966, Davis returned as part owner of the team. Though the owner of but a 10% interest in the Raiders, he became the team's third general partner---the partner (for the time being) in charge of football operations.

Six years later, in 1972, with Valley out of the country for several weeks attending the Olympic Games in Munich, Davis' attorneys drafted a revised partnership agreement that gave Davis total control over all of the Raiders' operations. McGah signed the agreement. Under partnership law, by a 2-1 vote of the general partners, the new agreement was thus ratified. Valley was furious when he discovered this, and immediately filed suit to have the new agreement overturned. The courts sided with Davis and McGah. As a result, Valley sold his interest in the team, and Davis---though owning but a small portion of the team---was firmly in charge."

When you see HOW Mr. Davis got control, it should not EVER surprise you that he surrounds himself with ONLY people he trusts and NEVER relinquishes his powers to anyone.

The old timers around here call him a crook for what he did to take over this franchise, whereas, the younger generation sees him as "Enterprising".

He turned his vote and 10% into MILLIONS of dollars and control of one of the most storied teams in football history.

You can also see now WHY the Raiders pockets are not as deep as any team's in the League. The value that they have is ONLY what they've made in this League...Period. They are a football team that is owned by a football man, a one of a kind Maverick or Villain depending upon your take.

Last year, when he hired Lane Kiffin, he gave his young coach the ability to fire and hire whoever he wanted on the offensive side of the ball. That included one of Al's favorites and a VERY LOYAL Raider in Fred Biletnikoff.

When Freddy B was "allowed to resign" it sent a message, to me at least, that Al Davis was loosening his grip on the franchise and allowing Lane to run the offensive show.

What followed was a series of disappointments and let downs for Mr. Davis.

I wish you could have all been there to see Al Davis leaving the game in a yellow taxi cab, muttering to himself, after a disappointing loss when Lane, stubbornly, stuck with journeyman quarterback Josh McCown against the Bears. HE LEFT IN A YELLOW TAXI!!! BY HIMSELF!!!

In his mind, as the GM, he got Daunte Culpepper to come in and tutor JaMarcus Russell and WIN NFL games at the same time. Lane thought, to his own admission that as long as the team didn't turn the ball over and ran well, they'd score enough points for the defense to win games. HUH!!! He obviously blew that one. Everyone on this board knew how bad that defense was in 2006 and 2007 showed that to be true.

But, Lane continued to run the same game plan until the last game of the season.

A frustrated Daunte Culpepper, just packed up and left early. Now, before you go off comparing him to Randy Moss, know this...Daunte WANTED to play, but, Kiffin benched him in favor of Josh McCown!!! That would be like benching Moss in favor of Johnny Morant!!!

Last season was painful for Al, and painful for many of us as well.

He must feel like the Don that has a loose cannon in the organization that wants to usurp his power. So, what is he to do?

Well, the first thing he will do is rebuild his fortress.

That rebuilding started yesterday when he "apparently" hired James Lofton as an unspecified offensive assistant without Kiffin's knowledge or approval. Even IF Lane blessed it, Al has another former Raider and Al Davis loyalist back aboard.

"Just because it's been relatively quiet for a few days doesn't mean all is well with Lane Kiffin and the Raiders.

It turns out that James Lofton has agreed to terms to join the Raiders as an unspecified assistant coach, most likely wide receivers, and although Kiffin conducted the interview, he had nothing to do with the hire.

That bit of news came Wednesday night from a team source I trust, and pretty much ruins my growing belief that things appeared to be working themselves out between Kiffin and owner Al Davis."

I can't say whether any of the off-field insubordination by Lane Kiffin is true, but IF any of it is, then you all know where I stand and I would not be too surprised to see James Lofton or Denny Green at the helm of this ship next year.

IF Lane wants to save his job, he'd better come around to Al's way of thinking, "Loyalty First", otherwise he'll be an advanced scout for a couple of years, albeit a very well payed one.

It takes time to be the Don and you have to pay your dues kid.