The denials are coming in the same manner as the stories.
The Donovan McNabb-to-the-Raiders story is built on hushed whispers given in confidence, with Yahoo Sports! (Charles Robinson) and ESPN (Adam Schefter) leading the way with unnamed sources saying the Raiders are the leaders in the clubhouse for the Eagles’ quarterback and equally anonymous Raiders sources telling Steve Corkran there has been no contact between the teams.
A few possible scenarios:
A) Someone in McNabb’s camp is floating the Raiders as a primary suitor, knowing full well there will be no on-the-record public denial that comes from teams that actually deal with the media. It’s no accident the Raiders so often come up in free agency stories as an interested party _ and often are not.
This is perfect for the Eagles, who want the market to be rich with McNabb suitors and when asked about the Raiders interest, won’t say anything on the record but give a knowing nod and wink.
B) Al Davis wants McNabb and has explored the possibility, but has commissioned the Raiders denials as a way to drive down the Eagles asking price.
Let McNabb and his $11.2 million due bill this season marinate for awhile on the open market. As the draft approaches, and there are no other teams willing to cough up that kind of coin for a 2011 free agent, Davis could get himself a starting quarterback and not have to give up the No. 39 pick in the draft.
C) Davis’ inner circle is so tight that it’s possible for club employees to deny the story because they truly know nothing about it, and they’ve seen enough rumors come and go that never come to fruition to be comfortable in that assessment.
That leaves the possibility that both sides are right _ Davis is talking to the Eagles about McNabb and is the front-runner to land him, while the Raiders will have people in their own building who will be surprised when it actually happens.
D) It’s nothing more than a competitive media wildfire, with the the Raiders continuing disregard older talent and develop their own roster. McNabb will either wind up elsewhere or with the Eagles and the whole thing will at some point in the near future be yesterday’s “news.”
Whatever the reason, the McNabb story confirms what columnists and pundits have long known about covering pro football.
When in doubt, write (or talk) about the quarterback.
There’s an actual buzz around the Raiders for a change, and only time will tell if it is real or artificial.
I’m sure all things McNabb will be open for discussion for an on-line chat later today . . .