By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, September 25th, 2009 at 6:36 pm in Oakland Raiders.
So we finally know what has been wrong with the Raiders all these years.
It was Rich Gannon, of course.
The same Gannon who led the Raiders to three consecutive AFC West titles and a conference championship.
As reported by David White of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders responded to Gannon’s brutal honesty regarding his former team by attempting to ban him from a Saturday production meeting with players and coaches.
UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting the Raiders have backed off on the attempt to ban Gannon from the production meeting.
And when we say the Raiders, we mean one Raider.
Senior executive John Herrera was the source quoted in the story, but this was an Al Davis move. Herrera doesn’t have the authority to do this on his own, and Davis, whose old school code of loyalty is everything, surely feels Gannon is a traitor. I talked to Herrera and he stood behind all the quotes in the Chronicle story added that Gannon had been critical as recently as two weeks ago on a local radio station.
“Everything he said was negative, even saying that he liked coming out here but it was hard to watch,” Herrera said. “He was a journeyman quarterback when he came here, we gave him an opportunity, then he retires and all he does is attack us.”
He said Gannon has talked of “blowing up the building” and starting over and considered the quotes “incendiary” in a post-9/11 world.
Personally, I can’t recall Gannon saying anything like that, but Herrera assured me they exist and have been “documented.” Without even getting in to the paranoia that goes in to having someone keep a running file of all the mean things said about the organization, I’m speechless at the notion that if Gannon did say these things, that they were taken literally.
I asked Herrera if his comments were coming straight from Davis and his response was, “I think we’re done here.”
Production meetings are often on Friday, but there was no sign of Gannon at the facility today.
After Tom Cable wrapped up his press briefing today he asked me if I’d seen Gannon. I wonder if he even knew Gannon had been silver and blacklisted. May have even wanted to thank Gannon for saying what a great job he was doing as head coach.
That’s right. Included in Gannon’s most recent assessment on the Raiders was an endorsement of Cable.
Here was Gannon’s take his Sirius Satellite radio show on the job Cable is doing with the Raiders:
“I give Tom Cable a lot of credit, not a little bit of credit, a lot of credit. He knows exactly what he has in terms of his personnel and he is not going to try to beat you throwing the ball 35 or 40 times. He understands the strength of that football team right now, and last year as well, without question is not the play of the quarterback, it’s the three running backs he has in Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush.
“And that, combined with the fact that they have an offensive line that was really bad a year ago in terms of pass protection, and with a young quarterback and with inexperience at the wide receivers, he’d be crazy not to run the football.
So I tip my hat to Tom Cable and what he’s been able to accomplish the first two weeks of the season. They are a better football team defensively, they can run the ball, and that has to be the M.O. as they head down the road the next six or eight weeks until JaMarcus can come along, until their young receivers can develop.
“But I think guys like Greg Ellis and Richard Seymour, their ability to stop the run, something they didn’t do a very good job of a year ago, that has to be the strength of this football team. Tom Cable knows what he has and he’s done a good job the first two weeks in making sure that’s a point of emphasis.”
Take a look at Gannon’s breakdown of Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, as well as the one by passing game coordinator Ted Tollner, and both men make a lot of the same points.
Herrera repeated the belief that Gannon was trying to deflect blame from his poor Super Bowl, when he threw five interceptions.
That would indicate the blame for the Super Bowl loss rests squarely with Gannon, coming during a week where the Raiders have maintained the failures of the Oakland passing game are a collective effort, and not simply the fault of Russell.
Years ago, Jon Gruden told a reporter a story about how Gannon, angered that he couldn’t get in the building early enough to get started on the day’s work, would throw pebbles at his window so he could get in the building early.
Looks like he’ll need more than a pebble this time around.