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Category: Raiders

Raiders are happy with their quarterback

JaMarcus Russell INDIANAPOLIS -- Two years ago, the Raiders used the No. 1 pick on quarterback JaMarcus Russell. He wasn't the first choice of then-coach Lane Kiffin, who wanted to take Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and then use a second-round pick on Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards.

But Raiders owner Al Davis really likes Russell, and Coach Tom Cable says he's happy with the progress the quarterback made in the last six weeks of the 2008 season.

"Where I want to see him really grow is with his maturity, his understanding of his responsibility," Cable said, speaking here at the NFL combine. "Not so much taking the snap and handing off, but his responsibility as a starting quarterback in the National Football League. That's being able to grow more and come out of those post-college years and be more settled.

"Understand that you really are the face of the organization," he said, "so you have to handle that the right way and act the right way. ... And he's been great at that."

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Credit: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images

Lane Kiffin's life in the SEC fast lane

What is it about former USC assistant Coach Lane Kiffin that produces venom-spewing press conferences and/or tersly worded released statements?

Raiders' owner Al Davis fired Kiffin last fall and held a rare -- and very bizarre -- press conference afterward to rip the young coach, Davis calling Kiffin a "Flat-out Li-ah" (Liar).

Kiffin recovered by getting named head coach at the University of Tennessee, in the cutthroat Southeastern Conference, where on Thursday he found out what happens when you accuse Florida's coach of of evil doing.

That's right, Kiffin accused Florida Coach Urban Meyer of violating recruiting rules in pursuit of receiver Nu'Keese Richardson. WVLT -TV out of Knoxville reported Kiffin told a group of fans at post-recruiting breakfast that Meyer called Richardson during the player's recent visit to Tennessee. Richardson ended up signing with Tennessee.

Kiffin told the crowd: "I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."

This produced an almost instant response from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who said in a released statement:

"There was no rule violation and we have confirmed this with
Southeastern Conference. It is obvious that Coach Kiffin doesn’t know
that there is not a rule precluding phone contact with a prospect during
an official visit on another campus during a contact period. His
allegations are inappropriate, out of line and, most importantly,
totally false. It is completely unfair to Urban Meyer, our coaching
staff, our football program and our institution. The appropriate action
at this time in my opinion is for Coach Kiffin to make a public apology.
His comments not only slandered our coach, but he violated SEC rules by
publicly criticizing another coach and institution."

No apology from Kiffin yet.

Hmmm. Wonder if this will have any carry-over to next season?  Florida, which has won two of the last three national titles, returns almost everyone on offense and should be the clear-cut preseason No.1

Tennessee visits The Swamp on Sept. 19.

It might be interesting. In fact, it might be 65-10.

-- Chris Dufresne

Theismann: From a screen to a scream

The Raiders' Jack Squirek holds the ball in the end zone after intercepting a pass by Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann during Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa Stadium on Jan. 23, 1984.

The Times' Sam Farmer is in Tampa, Fla., this week covering the Super Bowl.
In a series a Fabulous Forum posts, he looks back at the 1983 Raiders.
You can access his Raiders posts by clicking here and all his Super Bowl posts by clicking here.


There were two signature plays in Super Bowl XVIII: Marcus Allen's 74-yard touchdown run, and Jack Squirek's interception of a screen pass, which he returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half.

Joe Theismann will never forget that screen pass.

"We ran it in the first game against them, and that was the problem," he said. "It was 14-3 at the time, and the play was called rocket screen. It was a simple rocket screen left. Joe Washington had run it against them in the first game for 90-something yards. It was a big gain for us."

Then, in what turned out to be a disastrous decision, the Redskins tried it again -- from their own 12 with 12 seconds left in the half.

Continue reading »

Theismann on Raiders: Part III

Marcus Allen The Times' Sam Farmer is in Tampa, Fla., this week covering the Super Bowl. In a series a Fabulous Forum posts, he looks back at the 1983 Raiders. You can access his Raiders posts by clicking here, and all his Super Bowl posts by clicking here.


So Joe Theismann was annoyed with the stuff Howie Long was saying in an interview about Super Bowl XVIII, but at least he could snap off the TV.

There was no mute button on Raiders linebacker Ted Hendricks.

"Right after the game, we're flying to the game for the Pro Bowl," Theismann said. "Ted had been up all night. ... Sits down right next to me on the plane and proceeds for the next hour to tell me just how he kicked my ass. Now, we've got a six-hour flight!

"What am I going to say? We lost. They beat us, 38-9! What am I going to say, 'You're full of baloney'? He's saying, 'We kicked your ass. We chased you all over the place.' He finally fell asleep about an hour into the flight.

"It was the most thankful I've ever been in my life: Ted fell asleep."

More to come ...

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: Marcus Allen makes a 74-yard touchdown run against the Redskins during Super Bowl XVIII. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Theismann on Raiders, Part II


The Times' Sam Farmer is in Tampa, Fla., this week covering the Super Bowl.
In a series a Fabulous Forum posts, he looks back at the 1983 Raiders.
You can access his Raiders posts by clicking here, and all his Super Bowl posts by clicking here.


Back to Washington quarterback Joe Theismann's recollection of the '83 L.A. Raiders on the silver (& black) anniversary of their Super Bowl victory in Tampa...

Theismann thinks the world of running back Marcus Allen, but he would have given the Super Bowl MVP award to another Raider: defensive tackle Reggie Kinlaw.

"Absolutely," the quarterback said. "Reggie Kinlaw did not allow us to run the football. He owned that line of scrimmage. The nose tackle, that was the best game I'd ever seen him play.

"Marcus and I are very close friends. He shows me the ring every now and then and thanks me, and I want to strangle him. But the truth of the matter is, Reggie Kinlaw was the reason we weren't successful. Because we couldn't get into second down and sixes, second down and fives.

"And the last thing is, I did not play well. I threw the ball poorly. I made bad decisions."

The following week, he was MVP of the Pro Bowl.

"The next week, I lit it up," he said. "And that's the neat thing about football. You get a three-hour period of time somewhere in your life where you get to be special. And if you're special during that three-hour period, it becomes a life-changing experience."

And it has changed Theismann's life. It changed it a year before losing to the Raiders, in fact, when the Redskins beat Miami in Super Bowl XVII at the Rose Bowl.

"But I'll say this: Playing and losing the Super Bowl gives you a different perspective," he said. "It's something that I can share with people, that I've been to the top of the mountain. I can tell you what it takes to get there. I can also tell you what it does if you take that for granted."

More on switching shoes before the game...

"What I did is I wore the same pair of shoes all through the season," he said. "Now, it was the same company, but they were new shoes. Because it was the Super Bowl, and I was going to have new shoes! And they didn't fit right. They stunk. So I was [complaining] about the shoes, it was cold weather, I had all these little things that were bothering me."

Continue reading »

'83 Raiders -- from Joe Theismann's perspective

Lyle Alzado, left, hugs Howie Long after the Raiders beat the Redskins 38-9 to win Super Bowl XVIII.

The Times' Sam Farmer is in Tampa, Fla., this week to cover the Super Bowl. In a series of Fabulous Forum posts, he looks back at the 1983 Raiders.
You can access his Raiders posts by clicking here, and all his Super Bowl posts by clicking here.


OK, so a lot of you out there want to hear more stories about the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders, who won the Super Bowl here in Tampa 25 years ago. Well, I was just over at the media center and I bumped into Joe Theismann, who told me a ton of good stories about that game and the days before and after it. Check back here over the course of the day and I'll tell you some of them.

Here's a taste:

Those Redskins were 14-2 during the regular season, and their two losses -- to Dallas and Green Bay -- each came by 1 point. Washington had a jaw-dropping turnover ratio of plus-42, and, Theismann says, would have been considered the greatest team in NFL history had it A) won those two games in the regular season, and B) beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

Joe TheismannNow, remember, the Redskins had beaten the Raiders, 37-35, during the regular season in Washington, so the Skins were feeling pretty comfortable and confident coming into the Super Bowl.

"We'd beaten the Raiders, but I didn't take into consideration how we beat the Raiders," Theismann said. "Fumbles, interceptions, they made a bunch of mistakes. Took a late, great drive for us to be able to beat them. So they were really a terrific football team.

"Come here to Tampa, and I'm expecting warm weather. It's cold. It's windy. I decide I'm going to do a shoe deal, so I change shoes. So my shoes don't really fit. So I've got all these little things gnawing away at me."

Still, he was feeling pretty good about how things would unfold.

"We had a great practice on Thursday. If we would have played the game on Friday, we would have beat the Raiders, I promise you. Unfortunately, it was two days later."

By Sunday, it was a different story.

"The wind was blowing," he said. "We made our living throwing fades -- and you know how good those corners were, Mike [Haynes] and Lester [Hayes] were fantastic. Every fade I threw, every time they pressed, and we knew they would, I'd get the ball and it would just fall past my receivers' hands by just an inch.

"And then they kept bringing Mike Davis off the corner. They kept bringing him late, and he'd knock the crap out of me. I'd walk to the sideline. I walked up to Coach [Joe] Gibbs one time and I've got my helmet half on and half off, my shoulder pads are hanging out, my face is cut. I look at coach and I say, 'Coach, who's blocking the safety?' He looks down at his chart and he says, 'He's supposed to be blocked.'

"I said, 'Coach, look at me! Does it look like anybody's being blocked?' "

Anyway, that's just the start of what Theismann had to say.... He told some great ones about the screen pass that was intercepted by Jack Squirek, more frustrations with Gibbs, an unforgettable flight to Hawaii with Ted Hendricks, why Howie Long made him so mad once that Theismann threw his shoe at the TV... On and on...

Check back.

-- Sam Farmer

Photo (top): Lyle Alzado, left, hugs Howie Long after the Raiders beat the Redskins 38-9 to win Super Bowl XVIII. Credit: Allsport. Photo (inset): Joe Theismann. Credit: Associated Press

Al Davis gave his Raiders the royal treatment

Al Davis, left, receives the Super Bowl trophy in 1984 from then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, right, as Brent Musburger -- then with CBS -- gets ready to interview the Raiders' owner.

I just bumped into marketing rep Mike Ornstein in the lobby of my hotel. He was a longtime executive for the then-Los Angeles Raiders and reminded me of something Al Davis did in early 1984 when the Silver & Black played Washington in the Super Bowl at Tampa.

Every time Raiders players would come back to their hotel rooms for the night -– whether it was after a team dinner, practice, whatever -– Davis would make sure there were gifts waiting for them. Little things –- watches, T-shirts, sweatsuits, radios etc. He also picked up the tab for all the incidentals when the team checked out, the day after winning the game.

That kind of stuff wouldn’t be allowed now; it would count against the salary cap. But at the time, it almost provided a psychological edge. After all, players from the teams mingle and talk during the week. And while the Raiders were getting gifts in their rooms, the Redskins were staying at a Holiday Inn. One Washington player once told me that his hotel-room treat was breaking the paper sanitized-for-your-protection strip on the toilets.

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: Al Davis, left, receives the Super Bowl trophy in 1984 from then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, right, as Brent Musburger -- then with CBS -- gets ready to interview the Raiders' owner. Credit: Associated Press

NFL rules the TV rankings

Andre Frazier (left) tangles with the Cowboys' Terence Newman.

It's hard to argue the numbers.

While I wish more of you were watching "The Office", the best-written comedy on television as long as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" isn't giving us new episodes (and does anybody have a clue if there are going to be new episodes and, if so, when? Larry David, if you read this, please e-mail!), or "Desperate Housewives," which has picked up steam this season having moved five years in the future.

I can't blame you for not watching "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Or "Orange County." Those are my (not-so-secret) addictions.

But so far this television season you all are watching NFL football. Early and often.

The NFL sent out a release (below) that uses this season's Nielsen Media Research. Notable? Of the top 15 most-watched television shows this viewing season, 13 are NFL games. Only the "60 Minutes" edition featuring Barack Obama (sorry Pete Carroll) and the season premiere of "CSI" cracked the NFL domination. And I missed both those shows!

Program (Game)


1. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Steelers), 12/7

25.7 million

2. CBS Sunday National (Broncos-Jets & Pats-Steelers), 11/30

25.5 million

3. CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Jets), 9/14

25.2 million

4. 60 Minutes (Obama interview preceded by late SD-Pitt finish), 11/16

25.1 million

5. CBS Sunday National (mostly Steelers-Ravens), 12/14

24.4 million

6. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Cardinals), 10/12

23.7 million

7. CSI (season premiere), 10/9

23.5 million

8. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Giants), 11/2

23.3 million

9. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Cardinals), 11/23

23.3 million

10. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Packers), 10/19

23.2 million

11. NBC Sunday Night Football (Giants-Cowboys), 12/14

23.1 million

12. FOX Thanksgiving Day (Seahawks-Cowboys), 11/27

22.7 million

13. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Steelers), 11/9

22.4 million

14. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Steelers), 10/26

22.3 million

15. NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Packers), 9/21

22.2 million

Source: NFL, Nielsen Media Research

-- Diane Pucin

Photo:  The Steelers' Andre Frazier, left, tangles with the Cowboys' Terence Newman during Sunday's game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

DeAngelo Hall finds a home -- but Raiders remain lost

Deangelo Hall DeAngelo Hall wasn't unemployed for long. The big-money cornerback was signed Friday by Washington, two days after the Raiders gave him the boot.

Around the same time, in Green Bay, Charles Woodson, another former Oakland cornerback, spoke his mind about the franchise and Raiders owner Al Davis. Woodson, a starter for the Packers, talked about his old team with Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal.

"It's a sad state of affairs out there, and I really feel for the guys I know, guys like Nnamdi [Asomugha], Derrick Burgess -- those guys who I know week-in and week-out, no matter what, they're going to go out there and play hard," Woodson said. "That's the thing with Al -- it's hot or cold with him. If you're on the good side, you're good; if not, he'll get you out of there. So that's what you're seeing now."

"Oakland, it's sad to see it, because my first few years out there, with [Coach Jon] Gruden and [senior assistant] Bruce Allen, those years were great years. I think if those guys could've actually stayed out there, it would have been a different story. But they were pretty much forced out of there as well. I hate to see it. I love the community, I love the team, and like I said, those guys that I know, I feel for them the most."

On whether his relationship with Davis ran hot and cold: "With us, I guess, we had a relationship, we didn't talk that much or anything. We would talk in passing, at practices or what-not, but I never spent any time in his office or anything like that. I think once Gruden left and

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Will Al Davis block Lane Kiffin in Syracuse?

Lane Kiffin Lane Kiffin is looking for a job, and there's a good chance he could wind up coaching in college football.

Even though he was fired by the Oakland Raiders four games into the season and is in the middle of a messy fight over the money that's owed him, he still wants to get on with his career.

Syracuse could be a good fit. The New York Times recently reported the school has already hired an executive search firm to help find a replacement for Coach Greg Robinson. Syracuse denied the report.

This much is undeniable: Robinson is 8-34 overall, and 2-22 in the Big East.

So maybe Kiffin could wind up coaching the Orange, where the athletic director is Daryl Gross, a former USC administrator.

Yes, it looks like a very good fit. Only one itsy-bitsy problem ...

Syracuse grad Al Davis.

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: Lane Kiffin during a Sept. 30 news conference. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Oakland Raiders: Just wince, baby!

DeAngelo Hall When Al Davis fired coach Lane Kiffin just four games into the season, one of the things the Raiders owner complained about was Kiffin's inability to put points on the scoreboard.

Now, the Raiders might look at the Kiffin era as the good old days.

Under Kiffin this season, Oakland averaged 19.5 points a game. In four games under replacement Coach Tom Cable, the Raiders have averaged 7.2.

The latest Raiders news is their decision to release big-money cornerback DeAngelo Hall just eight games into his first season with the team. I understand the concept of cutting your losses, it's just that Davis typically hangs onto players too long, especially if they seem to embrace the Raiders way. Over the years, players have quietly called that being on scholarship. Well, Al did dump Randy Moss pretty quickly, but that didn't work out so well.

Back to Hall. The Raiders gave up a ton for him -- a second-round pick in last spring's draft, and a fifth-rounder in 2009. And remember, that wasn't just a run-of-the-mill second-rounder but the 34th overall selection, almost like a late first-rounder. (Atlanta wound up trading that to Washington -- where, incidentally, Hall could wind up -- and the Redskins used it on Michigan State receiver Devin Thomas.)

The decision to drop Hall didn't sit so well with at least two of his teammates. According to

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