Interesting nugget from right tackle Langston Walker Monday when talking about how and why Tom Cable has the Raiders in control of their own destiny in the AFC West with seven games remaining in the season.
Cable is movie buff, and some of his favorite flicks have made it into the routine of the practice work day.
“Coach Cable is a big movie guy and we’re constantly watching movie clips sort of spliced into our game film going into games,” Walker said. “We’ve watched `Patton,’ `Braveheart,’ `Goodfellas,’ ” Walker said.
I assumed `Gladiator’ had to be on the list.
“Not yet. I’m sure it’s coming, though,” Walker said. “He’s big into that and that’s his way of motivating us. He’s got great speeches and he’ll come in and put some statistic up or a phrase up and just end it. And you sort of carry that with you all day. I think this team is starting to reflect coach Cable.”
Cable said he came up with the idea in training camp, where he said that at one point or another, he had dinner with every player on the team. One of his questions was, “What’s your favorite movie and why?,” and Cable said, “the videos kind of come from that and they’re just a thought for the week.”
His own favorite movie?
“Miracle,” the Disney-made movie of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team, which, by the way, had a remarkable performance by Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks that compares favorably with any other acting job in sports movie history.
More news, notes, quotes and observations:
— Walker’s insightful observations didn’t stop with the revelation of Cable’s “Netflix” fetish.
When asked about the perception among many outsiders that it’s Al Davis who calls the shots and if that had any impact on the players, Walker shot for the stars.
“That’s always what is going to be said around here,” Walker said. “Al Davis could be shot to the moon and be on a moon trip and they’d probably still say he’s running things from Mission Control. Al watches film incessantly. I’m sure he’s got something to say about it. He runs the team.
“But we’re winning, so who cares? It’s a bigger issue when we’re losing and you wonder about the weird things that go on. It doesn’t matter. We’re above .500 and in first place. President Obama could be (calling) the shots.”
— Still more Walker . . .
“Coach Cable does some things that really make you think without having to say a damn thing,” Walker said. “Some of the things he puts up in the locker room _ he doesn’t acknowledge it or say anything about it. _ but they show us when’s the last time we had success this team.”
Early in the season, Walker said Cable asked him to stand up along with Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski because they were the only three players who had experienced the playoffs as a Raider.
“I didn’t really think of it like that, but as soon as he did it I was like, `Wow. It’s been a long time,’ ” Walker said. “There’s a lot of guys who have been here for awhile and they haven’t tasted success in silver and black.”
— Left guard Robert Gallery has long been a Cable guy, his career as a left tackle going nowhere until a new line coach arrived with Lane Kiffin and shifted him to guard. Like every coach in the NFL, Cable sends mixed messages at times through the media, guarding information and sometimes being misleading for a competitive advantage or to adhere to a company line.
In the locker room, it’s another story.
“When you have a consistent message every time, some people may take longer than others to believe it, but everybody buys into it,” Gallery said. “He’s never said something and done something else. You learn to respect a guy that stays by his word. That’s the big thing with him.”
— The Raiders are gratified to be associated with first place, technically tied atop the AFC West with Kansas City but with considerable advantages in terms of tiebreakers that don’t come into play until the end of the regular season.
“Whatever we’re going to accomplish, it’s in our hands, and we control it,” Cable said. “We don’t have to have someone’s help or any of that. We just need to go back to work, cut it loose and go to work. We’re getting to where we understand what that is. Just stay the course and do that.”
“We’re in first place, but we didn’t play yesterday, so I don’t want to say by default . . . I want to beat Pittsburgh so bad, because that not only solidifies us in first place, but people are really going to really start talking about us for playoff contention,” safety Mike Mitchell said.
Mitchell visited family in Kentucky during his time off, familiarizing himself with a DVD of Pittsburgh’s offense on the four-and-a-half-hour flights while going and coming. He came home as a contributing member of a winning team, as opposed to a struggling rookie not getting much playing time as was the case a year ago.
“Everyone’s just real happy. Everyone wanted to talk about it and say, `Hey, you guys are playing real well,’ ” Mitchell said. “But really it just kind of brought me back down. We’re only halfway. Everyone’s real excited and you don’t want to let them down. Really it just got me refocused, ready to come out here and keep making everybody proud and work hard.”
— So far the Raiders are not confirming anything regarding the arbitration proceedings with former coach Lane Kiffin and are making no comment on the matter. According to ESPN, Kiffin was denied back pay of $333,000 (after a salary offset from what he made as head coach at Tennessee) and the Raiders’ countergrievance for legal fees was also denied.
Sounds about right.
Kiffin deserved to be fired, Davis deserved bore responsibility for making the mistake of hiring him in the first place.
— There has never been any hard evidence linking Miami to quarterback JaMarcus Russell, only unattributed reports the Dolphins were checking out the former Raiders quarterback after they lost Chad Pennington and Chad Henne against the Tennessee Titans.
That brought a handful of Tweets and a few e-mails from Raider fans anticipating the possibility of Russell suiting up or even starting when the Dolphins visited the Raiders on Nov. 28.
Alas, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano expressed optimism Monday Henne’s injury was “short-term,” and quarterback Patrick Ramsey was signed to join Tyler Thigpen on the roster.