Raiders doing Russell no favors


JaMarcus Russell was back in town. Sleek, dedicated, ready to play.

Hey, if Greg Papa can tell from a video that Russell’s face is thinner, who are we to disagree?

That’s what Papa gleaned from the Comcast SportsNet Bay Area “exclusive” in which poor Kate Longworth and a camera man were reduced to chasing alongside Russell to sneak in a few questions about his first offseason conditioning session.

This came a day after Willie Brown talked about the quarterback’s “significant” weight loss and newfound dedication after a difficult 2009.

The Raiders official company line?

No comment. Russell won’t be made available for the team for anything substantial until minicamp.

Seems to me if you’re convinced Russell is a new man, you waste no time shouting it from the rooftops, arranging interviews and photo opportunities to placate a fan base that voiced their displeasure in the form of boos a year ago. Some of these people are on the fence about renewing their season tickets and a little off-season optimism might push them back in the direction of the Coliseum.

There are only two reasons why the Raiders keep Russell under wraps:

1) They’re not convinced. Russell has a lot to make up for, and dropping a few pounds is only just a start. Let him win back his teammates for a few weeks and demonstrate something beyond merely showing up.

This story will play out over time and Russell needs to prove himself before he opens his mouth, although the Longworth interview had worthwhile comic elements.

2) To hell with the media, a longstanding Al Davis tradition. You cover the Raiders long enough, you get to know a lot of former employees in and around the media relations department who are eager to tell you how their hands were tied by a team philosophy. Don’t do anything to help them do the media do their jobs.

As a media member, you get used to it and work around it. But there are times when it does a disservice to the players.

If scenario No. 1 is the reason for keeping Russell away from public view, then why would Brown be on Comcast SportsNet with Papa, who serves as both the team’s voice and pro-Al mouthpiece?

The second scenario is the one that hurts a player like Russell whose public image in the Bay Area in particular could use some shrewd handling.

Take, for example, Russell’s disastrous 2009 season and how it was dealt with.

If it seemed that every game was preceded by a week-long examination of the quarterback position and it’s failings, part of it has to do with the routine of an NFL season and how the the Raiders failed to understand how it works.

Every season I’ve covered the Raiders, quarterbacks have seemed to have an understanding on how to best deal with the publicity demands of the position.

Especially after a bad game, every one of them _ without exception _ would plant themselves in front of their locker on Monday and take questions.

Although he didn’t lose that often, Rich Gannon’s expression was almost defiant, as if to say, `Here I am. Take your best shot.”

Kerry Collins did it, as did Josh McCown, Andrew Walter, Bruce Gradkowski and whoever else had the job.

It wasn’t because they wanted to relive the experience.

They did it because they learned at previous stops that the best way to put a bad game to bed was to be done with it on Monday.

By doing so, their midweek press commitment (usually on Wednesday) became about looking ahead, rather than behind.

Russell almost never talks on Mondays, and decided to hold his weekly press conference in Thursday.

By doing so, after a poor game, the coverage took a familiar tone. On Monday, Russell’s teammates talk about the poor play at quarterback. The player’s day off on Tuesday has residual notes on the same subject. Wednesday might have something different, but on Thursday, Russell finally spoke and the whole issue is dredged up all over again.

Keeping in mind that for print purposes, Monday is for Tuesday, Tuesday is for Wednesday, etc., that means quarterback play becomes a primary focus for nearly the entire week simply because Russell hides out on Monday and doesn’t speak until Thursday.

No one with any clout has sat Russell down and told him how it works.

The Raiders take the position that they don’t owe the media (and by extension, their fans) anything, and operate in a cone of silence, and it’s as painfully inept as the the one The Chief and Maxwell Smart utilized on“Get Smart.”

Which, of course, doesn’t stop the Raiders from feeling persecuted about how the message is conveyed even though they make no professional attempt in conveying it.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • RaiderLen

    The Real MaddenRaider Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
    There’s no better reflection of an owner’s sheer want of winning than how much they in fact do win.

    Just as much as my wanting to be a 7 foot center in the NBA with a LeBron contract.

    The point is “want too” is accomplished with the resources, ability, and brains of the “want too er.”

    The old man has been leaking oil in many of these respects. 🙂

    By the way…Afternoon nation.

  • Ghost to the Post

    Hey RMR, and Kell I have a question for you both. What was the reason you first started rooting for the Raiders? For me it was the Holy Roller Game. I was sold for life with Big John Madden completely beside himself and I knew right then that I was a Raider fan. What was it for you guys?

  • My father started taking me to the games in 64′

  • buckeyeraider

    Thanks for the computer advice the other day. Maybe I was out of line for sticking my nose into other people’s “bidness”. I just thought some of the personal stuff was getting out of hand. But who the hell am I to say.
    For whatever reason, you’ve always been cool to me.
    So, what happened during Super Bowl week in ’02? What did Al do to pizz everybody off? I have no idea to what you were alluding to.

  • I don’t believe I have to keep my mouth shut just because I’m a fan. So let’s skip that convo.

  • The Big Banana

    Seahawks swap 2nd round picks with SD plus give SD a 3rd rnd pick in 2011 for Charlie Whitehurst. wow

  • The Big Banana

    Hey Seattle, we have a QB we can trade you too.

  • Senior Beeecham

    Hey Krappy, what was the year you started crapping your pants on a regular basis?

    Was this before or after you decided it would be a smart idea to post the Raider’s record everyday on a football blog?

    On second thought, don’t answer those questions – beg Jhill to answer them for you.

  • RaiderLen

    My 1st game was ’68. I was born and raised in the East Bay.

    I grew up in a time when Kids played outdoors from sun up to down.

    We played sports. The Raiders, A’s and Warriors players were what I aspired to be as a kid.

    It was not one momment, but an experience of a young persons life.

  • Ghost to the post, I can’t remember when I first became a Raider fan. Just remember my dad rooting for them. Late ’70s, some point. I gave up on Al Davis in ’97, until he hired Gruden. At that time I’d figured Al Davis had learned his lesson. Then after the 2000 season, when it was learned that he wasn’t going to give Gruden a new contract, I knew that was as good as a pink slip and I’d given up on “team loyalty”, so to speak, ever since. I still rooted for the team but knew the collapse was coming. After the Super Bowl loss I expressed my criticism of this team and the slough of insults I got have turned me off for good. I know effectively mock this franchise and its fans until Al Davis is gone. Sue me.

  • I consider Al Davis’s loyalists to be enemies. They’re sub human.

  • RaiderLen

    No Rath like a woman scorned. Or a Raider “Fan”

  • Senior Beeecham

    Oh, RMR, remember the other thing you do besides “mock” your team – you tattletale on people you think are too scary on the blog to confront on your own.

    And then, as if that wasn’t pathetic enough on its own, you then brag about your being a cowardly tattletale to anyone on the blog that will listen.

    Next time, try to answer the question in full, alright little dude?

  • ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Im human..

  • Not if you’re loyal to Al Davis, you’re not, 408. No human being is loyal to that man.

  • DKnight007

    The Big Banana Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 4:24 pm
    Seahawks swap 2nd round picks with SD plus give SD a 3rd rnd pick in 2011 for Charlie Whitehurst. wow

    Wow is right….Seattle won’t be drafting a QB at 6…thats for sure!

    Can’t believe the SeaChickens gave up that much for Whitehearst?

    Unreal….Dis-Chargers stole a better draft position and a 3rd rounder from Seattle….

  • Say what you want, Len. I really, really hate Davis’s loyalists. I hate his loyalists more than I hate him. And when they lose, I just live for mocking them. It’s the best time to mock them. These guys really believe in the Raiders, and my god are they depleted of any optimism whatsoever when the Raiders lose. I just hit them, and hit them, and hit them while they’re down. And I can’t wait to do it again 11 to 12 times this fall.

  • ottocrat

    Raiders doing Russell no favors…by not giving him first dibs at the pre-game buffet.

  • buckeyeraider

    Steve Alford,
    In an earlier post #243 you said Al doesn’t care what the fans or the media say or think. Something along those lines. Actually according to that book I mentioned the other day by the teams former physician, it’s quite the opposite. Granted, you can’t take everything he said as gospel. It could just be the rantings of a disgruntled former employee.
    But according to Dr. Huizenga, Al is paranoid, and almost consumed by what people say and think about him. He went so far as to say there is a room in the Raider’s facility filled with 3 inch binders, scrapbooks really, with copies of every article, every written word ever printed about Al Davis.
    As far fetched as it sounds, if that is the case, it wouldn’t surprise me if Al was actually on here to read the pulse of the fans, and what they are saying about him. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Maybe that wasn’t Rich-O blowing that horn in Kell’s phone. LOL.

  • RaiderLen

    Plain and simple, the old man needs help with his franchise.

    The law of diminishing returns…the old man is not capable of doing what he did at 50…60…70..

    He needs to use those boney fingers and dial somebody for help.

    A GM and Director of Player Personell would be a start.

  • RMR

    The thing about Davis loyalists, they don’t give a damn if the Raiders win or lose.

  • Russell is only here because of Al Davis’s scorn toward Lane Kiffin.

  • Kell, oh yes they do. You should see them on gameday. They were making death threats. It was hilarious. They really, really get mad. They really wake up sunday morning thinking the Raiders are a good team on the verge of turning it around any given game. They really think that. IT’s one thing to root for your team. But they go beyond that. They wake up every sunday in the fall thinking that this is it. The 7 year skid ends today, the Raiders are back on top. These people are not normal. Something is wrong with them. And my god, are they fun to make fun of when the Raiders lose. They just squirm.

  • DKnight007

    KoolKell Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    The thing about Davis loyalists, they don’t give a damn if the Raiders win or lose.

    The acceptance of mediocrity and LOSING is UNACCEPTABLE!

  • come on MR you dont really believe that..

  • Senior Beeecham

    That could be true, Krappy.

    But guaranteed, not a single Davis’ loyalist thinks the problem can be solved by posting the Raiders record over the last 7 years a billion times on a football blog.

    So … that makes you lower than them, huh?

    Don’t worry, I answer that for you. Yes, it does.

  • 408, anyone who is loyal to Al Davis needs to be watched. Something is not right. I have no problem with Raider fans in and of their selves, but to be loyal to Al Davis, at this point? It’s not good.

  • Beecham, it’s impossible to be lower than a Davis loyalist, no matter what you do. There is nothing lower.

  • RaiderLen

    MR, The old mans record speaks for itself. (the last 7 years)

    Anyone that runs from that or sugar coats it…I’d consider them an Al Davis loyalist.

    What I don’t understand, is why someone would be on a blog to simply bash the obvious.

    It’s like screaming into the wilderness.

    Is it a cathartic experience?

    I’m opimistic by nature, I get teased about it by freinds from time to time.

    The point is, The Raiders have sucked for a while. Will it get better? I think it can. Even with the old man at the helm.

  • Ghost to the Post

    Thanks guys. I don’t consider myself an Al Davis Loyalist. Just a realist. I am hoping you only get to bag on us 7 or 8 times this year. Hoping I said. Happy St. Patricks day to you all. Go Raiders.

  • # buckeyeraider Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for the computer advice the other day. Maybe I was out of line for sticking my nose into other people’s “bidness”. I just thought some of the personal stuff was getting out of hand. But who the hell am I to say.

    Richochet: Welcome on the advice, and no biggee on the other. It’s offseason..I mean how many mock drafts can one read? lol….
    For whatever reason, you’ve always been cool to me.
    So, what happened during Super Bowl week in ‘02? What did Al do to pizz everybody off? I have no idea to what you were alluding to.

    Super Bowl.
    League allotted out set amount of tickets to team to distribute to front office, players, and set amount for fans. (not that many, all things considered..NFL takes care of EVERYONE before the participating teams fans).
    After announcing which fans received tickets, it came to the attention of the NFL that a couple of THOUSAND tickets weren’t accounted for..as in “send us our money for tickets sold”.
    Raiders tried to pass off the discrepancy as they “used them for front office personnel” except even if everyone got 10 ducats each, from the janitor on up, (which is against the rules for distributing) there were STILL COUPLE THOUSAND NOT ACCOUNTED FOR..

    Soooo…finally Al admitted that he had HELD BACK TICKETS DESTINED FOR FANS in order to try and entice luxury box prospective clients..(he has the right to do that with TICKETS DESIGNATED TO THE TEAM AND ORGANIZATION, BUT NOT TICKETS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO GO TO FANS….sooooo..NOW..Raiders, with egg on face, admit “ok we have tickets for fans..


    now it’s Monday of SB week..no time to divvy up tickets and get them out to fans…so..we’re going to pull FANS NAMES FROM A LOTTERY, and then we’re going to CALL FANS TO INFORM THEM THEY ARE ENTITLED TO TWO TICKETS..

    oh..and IF WE CALL AND YOU AREN’T HOME? Sorry..we go to the next person on the list.
    NOW A WHOLE SLEW OF RAIDER TICKET HOLDERS stayed home from work, in the event they got a call..obviously most didn’t.

    Now..those that did get a call? had to go by after 4PM Friday to will call, to pick up tickets.

    Lot’s couldn’t get to will call friday night before will call closed, so had to go Sat.
    Then had to leave right from will call and drive to San Diego for the SB on Sunday.
    OBVIOUSLY ALL THE HOTEL ROOMS WERE ALREADY BOOKED..so many/most had to sleep in their cars…


    And it gets worse.
    After the SB?
    Alameda Cty had scheduled a parade, paid for by the county to say thanks to the Raiders, regardless of win or lose…AL REFUSED TO ALLOW THE TEAM TO GO…ALL BECAUSE OF AL’S ONGOING PISSING CONTEST WITH THE COUNTY…County stated publicly ‘Well do whatever Al wants to do..whatever day he wants..just call us and let us know, and we’ll schedule it”

    Al never called..no one called.

    So..a Fan Appreciation Day was scheduled shortly thereafter, not a parade, just an outing..fans show up, players show up etc…

    AND AL ALSO VETOED THAT..told the whole team they are not allowed to attend. No coaches, no players..no one.

    Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Rich Gannon and many others stated that was total BS. Rice stated he was embarrassed that Al would do that to the fans, and the team, because of his silly battles, and that fans deserved it..and so did the team.

    Allegedly over 4000 fans showed up, expecting players and coaches to be there, only to wait and wait..finally being told Al wouldn’t allow players to attend.

    That was the beginning of the end for many fans as far as how they felt about Al..

  • GG

    Russell didnt look like he lost a pound. Face/neck still chubby and you can see his Santa-gut rounded forward over the top of the car door.

  • djohnnyg

    RMR said:

    ” but to be loyal to Al Davis, at this point? It’s not good.”

    I like that. You make that statement in a non-inflammatory, above the belt, matter of fact manner.

    Are u feeling okay?

  • RegP7347

    Russell is not saying anything because he has poor english skills!!! Listen to his previous interviews… They are just flat out BAD!! He cannot handle himself speaking in a public forum..

  • LhayeS37

    i hope hue jackson will install the wild cat,but i didn’t see it in baltimore,so i doubht it.it would be great for d-mac.russell may have no heart,but he has 10 million dollars.in his defense,paul hackett is an idiot.russell should improvement under greg knapp,but he left and you saw the results with hackett….