In lieu of the news that Al Davis will likely fire Raiders coach Lane Kiffin as soon as Monday, I was compelled to post a column I wrote during my senior year of college in November 2006 for a feature writing class. The words still ring very true today, especially if Davis does indeed fire Kiffin.
Whatever happened to “A Commitment to Excellence”?
And “just win, baby” was much more meaningful when the wins were coming in double digits year after year.
Nowadays you would have to add up the wins from the past three seasons to reach double digits. It is easy to point to the 48-21 shellacking they received in Super Bowl XXXVII or the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” the year before as the turning point for a once proud Oakland Raiders franchise, but is my opinion that owner Al Davis is to blame for their downward spiral from feared franchise to laughingstock of the league.
Don’t get me wrong. I know who Al Davis is. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was commissioner of the American Football League, and his presence had a lot to do with the eventual merger between the AFL and the NFL. He hired the NFL’s first Hispanic American head coach and later the NFL’s first African-American head coach. And he was the first owner to name a woman as CEO of an NFL team. Through it all, Al Davis has been the face of the Oakland Raiders organization.
As coach, general manager, president and majority owner of the Raiders, Al Davis has done everything he possibly could for the silver and black. He has always tried to do what is best for the organization and he needs to continue that tradition now by stepping down and letting someone new breathe fresh air into the lungs of the Raiders.
The facts are simple. Al Davis is 77 years old, and he is simply too stubborn to admit his best decision-making days are gone. Coaches? Since the controversial departure of Jon Gruden, who went 38-26 in four years as head coach of the Raiders, Davis has tried three different coaches in five years. The latest hire, a recycled Art Shell, a man Davis fired in 1994 has produced more punchlines than points and has overseen the Raiders’ abysmal 1-5 start this season.
Players? The Raiders have monopolized the industry on bad acquisitions, doing so in a variety of ways. They have overpaid former stars in the twilight of their careers (see: Warren Sapp, Ted Washington), been fooled into overpaying faux stars (see: Super Bowl MVPs Larry Brown, Desmond Howard), and most recently, overpaid for “potential” stars (see: LaMont Jordan, Aaron Brooks). And when the Raiders have landed a star capable of making an impact, they have failed to use him appropriately (see: Randy Moss). Oh, and don’t forget their slew of draft day decisions that leave their fan base screaming at the screen, including this year’s decision to take a safety over a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback.
Al Davis has a history of moving. He took the team from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland again. He rotates coaches like tires and has shuffled the roster more than a deck of cards in Las Vegas. He’s made every move possible, except for one. He needs to remove himself from office. It would be his last great move, and the only one left to restore the Raiders legacy in his lifetime.
For more information, visit MattHubert.com.