First, let’s give Sirius Satellite Radio and host Gil Brandt credit for getting Al Davis to go on the record. Considering that Davis almost never speaks in public unless it has to do do with firing or hiring a coach, signing a significant player, honoring a player who is retiring or eulogizing someone in death, that counts for something.
That said, Davis’ interview with Gil Brandt on Sirius Satellite Radio Tuesday was essentially an infomercial.
If the first question is, “Why are the Raiders called the team of the decades?,” then the interviewer may as well be Mike Taylor. Even Greg Papa would give Davis a grilling by comparison, and he gets paid by the Raiders.
A few observations to be considered or discarded:
— I love listening to Davis talk about the days of the AFL and merger with the NFL, I admit it. I hang on every word. Davis is living history, and at 81, can be forgiven with calling the Baltimore Ravens the Baltimore Colts on two occasions. One of my colleagues told me I called Michael Huff “Sam” during an interview today.
Still, the questioning, which I’m only guessing was agreed to in advance, only served to glorify the Raiders past (a distant past with the exception of 2000-2002) at the expense of what has been a disaster since the club returned to Oakland from Los Angeles.
If you consider anything at .500 and above a good year, the Raiders are going into their 16th year since coming back to Oakland and have had three good years. That’s a little more than the “few years” Davis concedes to be bad years, let alone the last seven of 11 or more losses _ an NFL standard he must have a hard time believing.
— Davis is hoping the current Raiders rekindle the 1980 Raiders, comparing Jason Campbell to Jim Plunkett, saying he predicts “great things” for Campbell much as he insisted JaMarcus Russell would be great in the Lane Kiffin letter.
The emphatic endorsement of Campbell means there never was any competition at quarterback, even before Bruce Gradkowski tore a left pectoral when weight lifting. Just as Campbell said on the NFL Network in the aftermath of his acquisition.
Russell talk was either stictly forbidden or not pursued. Nor were stadium and attendance issues.
— During the course of an interview that lasted just over 11 minutes, Davis never said the words “Tom” or “Cable,” but said, “we have a bright new young offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson, and I just have great hopes for this young team. It’s a very young team, but I do have hopes for it.”
Have that much confidence in the guy, and maybe you’d consider giving your fans at least a taste of what he’s all about. It’s been almost 200 days since Jackson was hired, but Davis is keeping the Jackson charisma to himself.
— Davis sort of concedes his culpability in the bad years which included the DeAngelo Hall, Gibril Wilson and Javon Walker fiascos when he says “I think we have our stamp on this team. It’s our personnel, it’s our picks, its our want to be great once again, to join the ranks of the elite.”
Indeed, the Raiders have strayed from the free agent strike and have looked to develop their own players since they paid out huge money to Hall, Wilson and Walker and got nothing in return.
— You hope Davis still has the kind of influence when he helped Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw avoid the last potential work stoppage, because his heart is in the right place with regard to former players still suffering from physical problems brought on by their years of service without the medical scrutiny that exists in the era of big money.
“One thing we can never forget _ those who came before us,” Davis said. “And we hope in the CBA, that we can make amends and help those people who need it most.”