By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 at 11:29 am in Oakland Raiders.
There’s been an unfair rush to judgment against Tom Cable.
Part of it is his own doing. Part of it is the Raiders inability to handle a crisis behind closed doors. Part of it is the culture that exists under Al Davis. Part of it is the nature of media in the Internet age. Part of it is that for a lot of people, taking shots at the Raiders is simply good fun.
What we know to a relative certainty is that Randy Hanson went to the hospital for an injury he said occurred when struck by another coach on the Raiders staff. Hanson wasn’t named in the original police report, nor was he named when the investigation was re-opened, but he’s the guy who disappeared from the practice facility, and who several Raiders employees concede was the injured party.
We have a pretty good idea the other person involved was Cable, although there hasn’t been a single on-the-record attribution from someone willing to put their name alongside it.
That should happen at least in terms of law enforcement now that police are involved and investigators can speak directly to those in the room. If police don’t find Hanson’s version credible enough to pass along to the district attorney, the whole matter could go away, and the NFL would be hard-pressed to have any action for discipline because it didn’t happen out in the open.
And Cable would have been treated as a pinata in the press for an incident that never made it past a mysterious skirmish.
Not that Cable didn’t make a rookie coach blunder which rivals the fake field goal attempt against the Chiefs.
Initially, Cable said “it was being handled internally” and would not comment further. There are a couple of ways to deal with a story like this, and that is one of them.
Except when ESPN’s Mark Schlereth called Cable, a college teammate at Idaho, the story changed. Schlereth said Cable hold him the whole story was ridiculous, and said, “nothing happened.” He repeated those words in front of the media in Napa.
Even if the incident was nothing like Hanson says, “nothing happened,” was a poor choice of words in terms of public perception. If someone goes to the hospital, clearly something happened.
Which brings us to the Raiders and how they deal with a crisis. Any team that has a clue, the moment Hanson went to the hospital, immediately gets the involved parties together and maps out a strategy for if and when the story comes forward. If it doesn’t, great, no one is the wiser. But if it does, you’ve got a plan, which would presumably include Cable avoiding saying things like “nothing happened.”
If Bill Belichick was involved in an altercation with an assistant coach behind closed doors, chances are good the whole thing would have been finessed and smoothed over so it never made the light of day.
Of course, Belichick would have never had an assistant on staff he didn’t want, either. Hanson was a Davis hire, and at least for a time, had the ear of the boss. Hanson got Davis’ backing when Lane Kiffin suspended and attempted to fire him.
Chain of command has never been a priority with the Raiders. It’s Davis at the top, and a lot of other employees battling for their own turf.
The competition to break stories, and the immediacy involved with the Internet, has caused a culture where second-hand accounts are routinely put in the public arena with the knowledge that they can always be changed later as the story develops. Gone are the days where you find someone to put their name to a quote, then get confirmations as background.
It’s hard to feel real comfortable reporting a story which says Cable cold-cocked a man he outweighs by 100-plus pounds unless someone is willing to put their name to it. Or that he knocked Hanson out of a chair and threatened to kill him.
If all this is verified by law enforcement, and Cable is led away in handcuffs, there will be plenty of time for piling on.
Until then, Cable is having his character assassinated prematurely.
Who is Randy Hanson?
Steve Corkran’s Saturday story in Bay Area News Group-East Bay papers answers the question, “Who is this Randy Hanson, guy, anyway?”
The short answer? He’s a relatively low-level assistant coach who for a short time had the ear of Davis and believed he was a climber in the organization, and has since found out otherwise.
I’ll have more later in advance of the Raiders-49ers preseason game . .