By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, November 14th, 2006 at 1:10 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Second-day takes following a heavy news day:
– It’s one of the reasons Randy Moss doesn’t want to talk to reporters. He gives me an honest answer to a question about his numerous dropped passes, with no hint of rancor. His tone of voice suggested someone who simply answered the question as it was was asked.
His latest infamous quote, of course, reads a little differently than it sounds.
“Maybe because I’m unhappy, and I’m not too much excited about what’s going on, so my concentration and focus level tends to go down when I’m in a bad mood. So all I can say is, if you put me in a good situation and make me happy, man, you get good results.”
You read that without hearing it, as a headline writer does, and it comes out like this:
Moss: Make me happy, I’ll catch more passes
With the sub-headline: Receiver grouses drops come from being unhappy, unmotivated
I’ve got no problem with the headline. As for the sub-headline, it may have read like he was grousing, but he really wasn’t. Honest. He didn’t say he was unmotivated, but I guess you could infer it.
Quarterback Andrew Walter’s criticisms of Oakland offense were also delivered in a low-key manner. Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler described it best, writing that it was if Walter was testifying in a murder trial. It was a slow process of question and answer in which Walter chose to answer, rather than simply pass on the company line.
Bottom line, of course, is Moss iand Walter are responsible for what they say. In the case of Moss, he’s been around long enough to understand how things will be interpreted.
Some Moss leftovers . . .
His assessment of how he has played: “My game has been below the radar, and the reason I say that is because when I came to the Oakland Raiders, there was a big emphasis on bringing back the deep ball. Last year, I was hurt, I was bothered by injury, and this year, I came in ready to go, 100 percent healthy, coming in with a new head coach and a different scheme of trying ot rejuvenate the Raiders and get them back to the Raiders of old. That’s one thing that has bothered me, knowing that we have weapons to go out there and stretch the field such as myself but we’re not getting it done. I don’t know if you put that on the players’ shoulders, if you put that on the offensive coordinator’s shoulders . . . ”
Whether he still has the passion to play: “I still love the game and have the desire to go out there and be the best. Sometimes the wins and the losses, you really don’t get to see how hard people play or how hard people focus, but you know, the one thing I do still have is the love for the game, and just going out there and doing something, and I still want to be the best no matter what it is, and what I do, and hopefully I’ll reach my goal of one day playing in the Super Bowl.”
– For the record, Moss seemed genuinely touched about having a college award named in his honor. His critics will delight in the assertion that the “character” of the candidate will be taken into account upon selection.
– Don Holm of Walnut Creek made some valid points in an e-mail he sent me regarding a person’s mood and the workplace.
His contention is that people perform their best when they like their job, their bosses and are having fun, regardless of their income, and that Moss was merely speaking the truth rather than citing a `slump’ or “burnout.’
My reply? Set aside the money for a minute. Moss is also playing for his teammates, particularly the guys on defense who are doing enough to win. Even if he’s stuck in a bad place and doesn’t like the offensive system or his situation, what about those guys?
I’ve been around the Niners when Terrell Owens was there. I’ve been around the Raiders with Moss. The difference is Moss seems to genuinely like and care about his teammates, and they seem to like him. He seems like a person who would go out of his way for them off the field, so why not on it as well?
That’s where this doesn’t add up.
Other news, notes and observations:
– A couple of things in Shell’s defense regarding Walter. Say what you will about the offense, but there were a handful of throws Walter flat-out missed in the second half that could have changed the outcome. He’s simply not an accurate enough passer at this point in his career to carry an offense.
– Shell said the game’s final play as called was to be out of the shotgun formation, rather than under center. He didn’t elaborate, but the inference was clear _ it was Walter’s mistake.
– You wonder if Shell’s “We got screwed” line with regard to the Chris Carr unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will cost him a few bucks. Considering Shell’s honesty with regard to calls against the Raiders this year, I’ll take his word for it that it was a bad call.
But I think he overplayed it in terms of the call deciding the game. With this Raiders offense, having the ball at the 20 is no guarantee of anything. Yes, they could have drove for a touchdown for a 20-7 lead or kicked a field goal for 16-7.
Oakland could have also easily turned it over with an interception or sack-fumble, drive itself out of field goal range with a sack or two, or missed a field goal attempt.
Carr was correct in pointing out there were a lot of other plays that could have decided the game as well.
– Denver coach Mike Shanahan, not surprisingly, delighted in telling the local media the call was correct.
“It’s not even close,” Shanahan said. “The guy’s out of bounds and ran at least 10 yards down the sideline. It was a blatant penalty. It was like somebody tackling somebody rushing the passer. It’s part of the game . . . you can’t do it. The reason why you don’t see it is because guys don’t do it. When they do it, they get a penalty.”
Shanahan also had a smart-aleck remark ready when asked if he had talked to Al Davis.
“No, I did not,” Shanahan said. “I was really disappointed he didn’t stop by and say hello to me before the game started, but maybe next time.”
A quip without class, in my opinion. Davis isn’t getting around to talk to anyone before games anymore because he’s not physically capable of it.
Besides, there’s nothing really appealing about a wealthy man who just can’t let go of the fact that he thinks Davis still owes him what amounts to the change under his couch cushions.
– The ascension of Randal Williams means the Raiders have grown tired of waiting for Courtney Anderson to fulfull his potential.
– I asked Shell why he bothered to challenge what appeared to be a third interception by Fabian Washington that officials ruled incomplete. It was third down, the Broncos were punting anyway, and the Raiders had only one time out left.
Shell said he was concerned the Broncos would be able to pin the Raiders deep in their own territory with a good punt. Considering the frailty of Oakland’s offense, that’s reasonable.
What isn’t reasonable is the Raiders had already burned two time outs _ and when they lost the challenge they were all out.
Fans who followed the Raiders closely during Shell’s first go-round tell me this was fairly common in the Los Angeles days as well.