By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 10:25 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Ventured in to the city for a dry run performance of the “Chronicle Live” show on the network Comcast Sports Bay Area, with the added bonus of being there for the network’s introductory party in the evening.
As the title suggests, San Francisco Chronicle reporters and columnists will be featured, but those from other media outlets will also be guests.
To explain how I could possibly label the Raiders a contender in the AFC West, as I did in an April 1 blog.
(Funny, considering the state of the division and that there are only four teams in it, I didn’t consider it that big a deal).
Anyway, since the show’s host is Raiders radio announcer Greg Papa, at least I had a sympathetic ear. You watch this team every week for several years, you go into every season hoping they’ll be relevant.
Upon arriving at the studio in San Francisco, Papa was having his makeup applied.
“Don’t laugh, Jerry, you’re next,” he said.
A few moments later, I had makeup brushed on my face for the first time in half-century of life. (It got re-applied later _ apparently I have a shiny forehead).
Before the taping began, a news director asked me if I could weave in the fact that Papa had been named winner of the California Sportscaster of the Year. I told him I could handle it.
Papa asked me about the Raiders being a contender on the air, and I talked about the the Raiders closing out the 1999 season with a 41-38 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which included the memorable call of the newly-named California Sportscaster of the Year saying, “Wheatley won’t go down!.”
While I didn’t think the Raiders were on the verge of a 12-4 season, as that team was, I said I thought considering the state of the division, they were legitimate contenders. The last obstacle was the Chargers (they’ve shown the last two years they can beat both the Chiefs and Broncos) and that was a wall they could climb in Week 1.
I also said I thought the Raiders were better off in the short run but not necessarily in the long run for the Broncos having dealt Jay Cutler to the Bears for a pair of first-round draft picks.
As stated before, I think Cutler’s got wonderful passing skills, but is lacking in leadership and tends to make the worst of a bad situation _ not the skills I would want in a franchise quarterback. Still, the Broncos would be worse off in 2009 after such a messy divorce.
Anyway, I wasn’t included in a later panel of which Bay Area team (excluding the Sharks) would be the first to have a winning season among the Raiders, 49ers, Giants, A’s and Warriors. None of the panelists (Glenn Dickey, Gwen Knapp, Jorge Ortiz, Chris Townsend) thought it would be the Raiders.
When you’re in the worst six-year run in franchise history, media optimists are understandably in short supply.
The Comcast party afterward had big-name attendees from the front offices of every team but the Raiders. That’s not surprising, considering the network’s Web site advertises itself as a network for the Giants, A’s, Warriors, Sharks, Kings, Quakes, Monarchs and also has an entry for “college teams” with the Raiders nowhere to be found.
That’s right. The soccer earthquakes and WNBA Monarchs are involved. Not the Raiders.
(The Raiders have their own syndicated shows, with Papa serving as a host, and will get somewhat of an organizational point-of-view by having Papa affiliated with the station).
Talked to Papa at the network’s opening party afterward and told him I’d been set up to sneak in word of his award. He told me Vin Scully had won 28 times, so he needed only 27 more to catch him. Wish I’d had that line before the cameras were rolling.
On the other hand, it doesn’t matter much, since it was a practice show which won’t be aired as the network worked out the kinks for its opening. They’ve been running test shows for awhile now.
I’m tentatively scheduled to be a guest later in the month to talk about the draft. Unless, of course, I don’t make the cut. If not, I’ll figure it’s that my forehead is too shiny.