By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 10:26 am in Oakland Raiders.
Chance of this happening? Zero, or something in the ball park.
But with the news of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers declining an invitation to be featured on the acclaimed HBO series “Hard Knocks” the Raiders should make it known they’re willing to have their training camp turned into a weekly series.
They were reportedly a candidate in March before the Bucs received the offer.
The road blocks are painfully obvious.
The first is the NFL lockout which could stop the show in its tracks for a year.
The next problem is Oakland pretty much operates as a closed shop. A couple of years back, they even took to pinning the media into 20-yard “penalty box” areas after years of allowing reporters to walk freely along the sidelines (staying away from the middle of the two fields where the players congregated).
The Raiders’ love for secrecy is legend.
Add into it the fact that owner Al Davis doesn’t like to be photographed. Media photographers are told not to be zeroing in on Davis, as are rolling cameras, not to mention invited guests. That doesn’t stop an intrepid photographer from firing off a few shots from a long-range lens, of course, but given that constraint, it would make it difficult to chronicle Davis’ visits to Napa. And those visits would be a huge part of the story, given quarterback Jason Campbell’s comments last week about how the intensity increases with the owner on hand in his golf cart.
A lot of those issues can be negotiated, however and the Raiders can have some input into how it would be produced. You never know when Davis will decide to speak, and any time he does, it’s great theater _ some of the best in sports.
The Raiders are struggling with a season ticket base in the 23,000 range last year and the lockout can’t be helping things. I know a guy who threatens to give up his tickets every year. Then every year he tells me, “They got me again.”
This time, it was because of repeated e-mails and phone calls _ the most contact this ticket holder can remember in terms of salesmanship.
This is an organization in need of some national exposure as it promises to get back in the championship chase.
What the Raiders really have going for them is coach Hue Jackson. He dominates training camp unlike any coach since Jon Gruden in terms of being vocal, enthusiastic and energetic. He’ll get on players who fall short, talk trash to the defense. This year he’ll be entrusted with the entire team, which ought to make the performance even better. The camera loves him, and Jackson seems to like to have it pointed toward him.
When Gruden was head coach, he was a favorite of NFL Films, who were often in Alameda and allowed access very unusual to the organization. How did it happen?
Davis left it up to Gruden, and Gruden was secure enough to say yes _ even after a pair of 8-8 seasons.
Jackson has yet to do anything wrong, and he doesn’t seem to be lacking in confidence.
As for the “penalty box,” that was mostly put in place because of a perception that Bay Area media _ or as Warren Sapp termed “the local yokels” _ has been too critical. Some bigger national outlets get to move more freely if they’re considered more friendly or have a relationship with whoever the coach happens to be in a particular year.
If there is an end in sight to the lockout, and the Raiders can sell it, they ought to consider allowing an up close look at Jackson’s “Build a Bully” process.