McFadden still ailing; Bush’s time to shine


Michael Bush is no stranger to biding his time, picking up a few carries here and there and playing the good soldier. His opportunities to start are few and far between, yet’s he always seems ready when called upon.

That figures to be the case Sunday, when the Raiders host the Denver Broncos at the Coliseum and with lead back Darren McFadden hobbled by a sprained right foot.

As always, Bush says he is eager to make the most of a rare opportunity to step into the spotlight as the Raiders featured back.

“That’s just a part of it,” Bush said. “It’s not the first time I have been down this road, but it’s a good thing. It’s bad that Darren got hurt, and I wish that he was out there playing with us, but the coach believes in me and I just have to keep the offense rolling.”

Bush, like any other running back, would love to get more action during games. At the same time, he understands his role and does whatever is asked of him without being a divisive force.

“He’s been very positive,” coach Hue Jackson said. “That’s just Michael. He understands that he plays behind Darren, and he respects Darren and Darren’s ability. He respects his own ability. Would he like to have more chances? Yeah. But he understands it’s a long season, sometimes things happen and he’s going to get his shot. And when he does, he’s got to nail it. And if this is this week, then he’ll nail it because he’s a good player, a really good player.”

Bush and Taiwan Jones have been getting all the reps in practice the past two weeks. Jackson isn’t ruling out McFadden playing.

However, with a game against the San Diego Chargers four days after the Broncos game, the smart money says that Jackson holds out McFadden and entrusts the running attack to Bush and Jones.

Past history shows the offense is in good hands with Bush as the lead back. He has 600 yards on 134 carries (4.5-yard average) and four touchdowns in 10 career starts.

Jackson said he is bolstered by the fact Bush rushed for 99 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in relief of McFadden in Oakland’s most-recent game. He also is thankful for Bush’s professional approach to accepting his complementary role.

“He’s in a tough spot,” Jackson said. “He plays behind arguably in my opinion one of the best running backs in this league. But Bush is a really, really good player himself. It’s good when you have two of them. In case one can’t go, you have one you can lean on.”


The depth of the penalties problems for the Raiders this season is underscored by the fact that they retained their lead in penalties (69) and yards penalized (600) despite not playing last Sunday.

The Panthers cut into the lead in both categories, yet they still have some work to do if they hope to catch a Raiders that has led in both stats all season. The Panthers are at 65 and 560, respectively.


Raiders wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh turned 34 in September. That’s old for a receiver in the NFL, and certainly older than the five other wide receivers on the Raiders 53-man roster.

Yet, Houshmandzadeh makes a compelling case for not being lumped in with other players his age.

“This is what I tell people all the time,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I played one year of high school football. I played three years of college. I didn’t play my first three years in the NFL. I’ve never been hurt. I can play for a while. That’s just being honest. I don’t feel sore. I can run. I just feel good. I feel better now, and it could be because I wasn’t playing all these weeks when other guys were, but I feel good.

“People look at age and this and that, look at the body and the injuries and playing time. I haven’t played a lot in my career. I sat on the bench for three years.”

Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders was with Houshmandzadeh in Baltimore last season. He said Houshmandzadeh brings a wealth of experience and versatility to the Raiders offense, as well as providin some comfort to quarterback Carson Palmer.

Houshmandzadeh is known for being effective in the slot, working the middle of the field and sacrificing his body for the sake of a catch.

“He’s someone that in the short-range area catches the ball extremely well, knows how to ward off defenders with his body and knows how to get in the right place,” Saunders said. “And he does it very, very well. So, when you have a receiver like that in your arsenal of people, it’s a real comfort level for the quarterback.


Rookie quarterback Terrelle Pryor knows an opportunity when he sees one. Hence, he has latched on to Palmer in hopes he can expedite the growth process in terms of being a productive NFL quarterback.

“I’m usually just with Carson, really,” Pryor said. “That’s the only person … We’re lifting partners and we meet every day in the morning when we’re off. We’re in the film room together. So, mostly everything he does, I’m right there with him.”

Throughout his high school and college career, Pryor pretty much was the man and didn’t have to wait around or learn under a veteran. He even started games his freshman year at Ohio State. Therefore, he is in uncharted territory.

“I didn’t really get a lot of help (in college),” Pryor said of the older quarterbacks on the roster at the time. “I’m glad it’s happening because I can learn a little bit. I came in late, so I can develop a little more and learn from a guy that’s been doing it for 10 years.”

Pryor was selected in the supplemental draft in late August and spent about a week with the Raiders before his five-game suspension kicked in. He rejoined the Raiders in Week 6 and has been playing catch up ever since.


The Raiders sold out Sunday’s game in advance of the league-mandated deadline. That extends their streak to five, which is the longest such streak since they sold out eight straight games bridging the 2007 and ’08 seasons. The Raiders last sold out the first five games of a season in 2006, when they went 2-14.

Jackson said the support is a testament to the loyalty of Raiders fans and their buying in to what he is selling in his first year as the head coach.

“It means that these fans are truly believing in what we’re doing,” Jackson said. “I just thank the city, I thank the organization, I thank everybody for continuing to support this team. I hope that we can as we continue to move on to Chicago and Detroit and the other teams that we play, those games are just as important, too.

“I hope our fans will keep coming out, supporting us. We know we have to put a better product on the field. That’s what we plan on doing.”

Jackson said he and the players are well aware of the difference a sold-out crowd makes.

“Our fans let us know,” Jackson said. “They let us know when it’s going good and they let us know when it’s going bad. We recognize that, and they have a right to. They’ve done a great job supporting us, and we have to do a great job of giving back by the way we play.”


Kicker Sebastian Janikowski still isn’t able to kick as a result of the hamstring injury he suffered a few weeks ago. He has two days to show that he is able to kick at or near full strength before Jackson decides whether to sign a replacement for the Broncos game.

Jackson said Janikowski will kick either Friday or Saturday in an attempt to gauge whether his sore hamstring is game-ready. If he passes the test, great. If not, Jackson will tab one of several kickers he has on speed dial.

“He has to be able to demonstrate that he can do his job,” Jackson said. “Like I said, he’s much closer than what he’s been. I feel very comfortable that there’s a good chance that that’s going to happen but, still, I thought there was going to be a good chance last time.”

Against the Chiefs, Jackson turned to Dave Rayner. As it turned out, Rayner’s efforts consisted of one kick-off in a 28-0 loss. He was waived two days after he was signed.

Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl


Steve Corkran

  • No Mas Diamante

    Later gents. Entertaing as usual.

  • LA to TheBay

    The Big Banana Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:13 am
    Talk about slights. Jackson called it the greatest trade in football. Saunders said that at Palmer’s first practice, everyone said, “You know what, this is a real quarterback.”


    Nice to have finally have a real QB here.


    Glad D-Smooth pulled the trigger on this move.

  • LA to TheBay

    Later, No Mas

  • Sullivan44

    Gruden’s funnier than Jackson. As far as toughness goes, they’re equally matched.

  • ghostraiders

    I like someone else posted last week… hue looks like a dwarfed sized Barry bonds..

  • LA to TheBay

    Sullivan44 Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:15 am
    Gruden’s funnier than Jackson. As far as toughness goes, they’re equally matched.


    Missed Gruden a lot until we promoted Huge Action.

    Al made a huge mistake in trading Chucky. He was great to watch. Always entertaining when mic’d up.

  • LA to TheBay

    ghostraiders Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:16 am
    I like someone else posted last week… hue looks like a dwarfed sized Barry bonds..


    Hue = Barry after the roids wore off.

  • DMAC

    Raiders’ Amy Trask driven like Davis

    (Sorry for the long azz post, but some Raider bros. don’t have access)

    There is a T-shirt in Amy Trask’s wardrobe that sits somewhere between the perfectly pressed black power suits and white sweaters with matching slacks. It is Trask’s favorite T-shirt, and might possibly describe where all of this is going. On the front it says there are 31 teams in the NFL. On the back it reads, “And then there are the Raiders.”

    Trask is zooming 100 mph in the bye week, tapping e-mails on her worn-out BlackBerry, plotting out moves, which means she has to do this interview by phone.

    This way, it is impossible to know whether her pauses are from deep reflection or if she’s getting choked up in the toughest month in the history of the Oakland Raiders’ franchise. Her critics would say that Trask, CEO of the Raiders, is just carefully trying to measure her words and hide behind the silver-and-black curtain of a franchise notoriously cloaked in secrecy. They call her “Al Davis with ovaries.” They wonder if she’d consider that a compliment. Nearly everyone who will talk about Trask uses the word “tough” in describing the woman who is now, three weeks after Davis’ death, the front-office face of the Oakland Raiders. The most powerful woman in the NFL.

    But Trask does not want to talk about gender, and also makes it very clear from the start that she will not spend the conversation unlocking any secrets about her mentor. She respected his privacy when he was alive, she says. She’ll protect in death, too.

    Uncertainty rumbles on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Anti-Wall Street protestors are filling the streets of Oakland; politicians are fretting over a stadium initiative. And for the first time in five decades, the Raiders must carry on without their iconic leader.

    Oakland is an NFL anomaly in many ways, most notably in its power structure. Everything — from trades to travel to the decision that it’s nobody’s damn business what the team had for breakfast — flowed through Davis, who ran the show for 48 years. It is still unknown whether the 82-year-old owner/general manager had a succession plan in the event of his death, but it is clear that the Raiders, who are 4-3 and in the hunt for their first playoff berth in nine years, have been aggressive in the days since his death.

    They gave up what eventually could amount to two first-round draft picks for quarterback Carson Palmer, traded for Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry, and on Tuesday signed veteran receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The moves were no doubt influenced by Raiders coach Hue Jackson — he worked with Palmer and Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati — and were presumably approved by Trask and Mark Davis, Al’s son, in a collaborative effort.

    Trask will say only that the Palmer decision was “a team approach, and it involved a number of people within the organization.” She is witty and polite and talks for more than an hour on the phone, but doesn’t reveal much. She stands 5-foot-3 and weighs just a shade over 100 pounds, this tiny woman in a big-boy world, but is nearly impossible to pin down. Maybe that’s the lawyer in her. Maybe that’s how Trask, a former Raiders intern, became one of the select few to gain Al Davis’ trust.

    The old man drives her, especially now. To stand out, to fight, to compromise. To finish something he couldn’t.

    Football at an early age

    A number of former Raiders coaches and players declined to comment for this story. Others simply said they didn’t know Trask, who handles all non-football operations, well enough to chime in. But there is an endearing scene that was captured on video and posted on YouTube last month, moments after Oakland knocked off the Texans, the day after Davis’ death. Trask is shown hugging players as they came off the field in Houston.

    “Everyone was hugging everyone,” Trask says, deflecting the warm-and-fuzzy significance of the video. “It was a very emotional day.”

    She has been married for more than 25 years to Rob Trask, whom she met in law school. She calls Rob, who runs a hedge fund, her best friend. Their wedding ceremony was delayed because a Raiders game went into overtime. Trask offers up Rob’s contact info for a possible interview, but he eventually declines. The only thing he’ll say is that marrying Trask was the best thing he’s ever done. They don’t have children. They do have two cats and a horse whose names are not revealed.

    “Pets deserve their privacy,” Trask says, laughing.

    She grew up in Southern California, the youngest of what she calls “considerably older siblings.” Her mom was an educator and her dad was an aerospace engineer. Her family was not particularly interested in football outside of the Super Bowl, but Trask fell in love with it by junior high. She calls it an intellectual game of chess with speed and power.

    As a kid, she was considered something of a troublemaker, mainly because she was constantly speaking her mind, occasionally in inappropriate places.

    “I really don’t have a particular story that I would share,” she says. “I would simply say if I were my parents, I would’ve given great thought to sending me away to boarding school.”

    But she got good grades in school, and wound up at Cal Berkeley. It was just a short drive from her beloved Raiders, a team Trask was drawn to in part, she says, because they believed in second chances and stood up for what was right, regardless of what others thought. She went from Cal to law school at USC in 1982, the same time the Raiders moved to Los Angeles. She interned for the team in 1983, finished up school and went to work for a law firm.

    Trask will not tell the rest of the story, but a friend of hers says she was discovered by Davis almost in the same way he used to spot future NFL players on the football field. She was working for a law firm that Davis had retained, and when they came out of a meeting, he said she was the brightest person in the room and that he had to hire her.

    She took a job in the legal department in 1987, and, though it was somewhat frowned upon by a few colleagues, she immediately wanted to know everything, from the ticketing department to accounting to the way the team handled media.

    Davis, Trask says, encouraged that quest for knowledge. Roughly five years into her job, he sent her to her first league meeting. Soon, she was going toe-to-toe with owners. Her ascent was fast. In 1997, Trask was named CEO.

    “He had a tremendous amount of respect for her,” says Mike White, who coached the Raiders from 1995 to ’96. “She’s a very intelligent lady. And because of those reasons, she was given a lot of responsibility.”

    Trask’s path

    Trask’s longevity is no small feat. During her 14-year span as CEO, the Raiders have had eight different head coaches. Davis was slow to trust and quick to dismiss. He was “the ultimate of micromanagers,” former Raiders coach Tom Flores says, and made all the decisions. He ran his team on an island, which shifted from Oakland to Los Angeles to back to Oakland in 1995. Us against the world. That’s the Raiders’ mentality.

    Oh, there were the behind-the-scenes acts of kindness that Davis was responsible for. But Davis preferred that the outside world didn’t see that. He wanted his Raiders to be mysterious, feared and contentious. To love to be hated.

    And Trask had plenty of that fight in her. She was a relative newbie in the NFL power circle, when, according to an old Sports Illustrated article, she got into a spat with former 49ers president Carmen Policy at a 1997 league meeting, then refused to yield the floor, even when she was ordered to by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

    “Nobody survives in that organization without having a mean streak,” says former San Francisco Chronicle reporter David White, who covered the team for four seasons. “Al Davis wouldn’t have promoted [Trask] if she didn’t.”

    Former Raiders employees and people around the league call Trask fiercely loyal, a tag she both embraces and hesitates to accept. Trask insists her loyalty was not born out of blind faith, and that she disagreed with Davis on numerous occasions. If she wasn’t allowed to speak her mind, Trask says, she wouldn’t have lasted for a week.

    So no, she is not Al Davis. Not exactly. She is active in the community and plays well enough with others in Oakland that the city council president, Larry Riley, says he loves Trask because of her contributions to Oakland’s youth.

    Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, whose father battled Davis in the early days of the AFL, describes Trask and Davis as “very different personalities.”

    “I do know for sure that everything that she did up until Mr. Davis passed away she did with his approval. But she’s much more of a consensus builder, I’d say, than Al was. And somebody who has worked very hard within the framework of the league to get things done as opposed to certain cases [when] Al worked outside of the framework of the league.

    “I would say she has been able to gain the respect of the other 31 teams in what was probably a difficult situation. First of all, she was not the owner representing the Raiders, and very few teams are not represented by their owners. And she was one of the very first females in the room representing a club. She’s so capable that everybody looked past that and accepted her as an equal.”

    A woman in charge

    Surely, Trask felt the eyes upon her the first time she walked into one of those meetings. She must have heard the whispered nicknames, such as “Pit Bull” and “Princess of Darkness.” Did it motivate her to work harder? To know everything she could about the league? Trask says everybody — men, women, old and young — has to put up with something at some point.

    Trask just had to put up with a little more than the average exec.

    “When a man climbs to the top of the NFL by any means necessary, we call them resourceful,” David White says. “When a woman does it, we have another name for her.”

    Susan T. Spencer has heard that name before. More than two decades ago, Spencer was general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, the team her dad owned. She had trash thrown at her, was booed and underestimated, she says, because she was a woman in a high-ranking football job..

    When news of the Palmer deal hit a few weeks ago, Spencer was annoyed. Hue Jackson’s name was mentioned prominently in the stories; Trask’s wasn’t. To Spencer, it was a sign that the media and the average football fan still don’t think it’s possible that a woman can handle a job like Trask’s or have a hand in any football-related decisions.

    But Trask probably wasn’t offended by the slight. She’s a businesswoman who knows her football, but she’s not a football scout. It is believed that the Raiders will lean on Jackson for personnel decisions and eventually hire another front-office person, probably a general manager.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell says the Raiders are in good hands.

    “She’s a very strong person,” Goodell says of Trask. “She has strong beliefs, and she is not afraid to express them. She is smart, tough, and she will do what she believes is right.”

    Friends say she’s loyal

    But back to a more touchy-feely issue: family. Trask, 50, does reveal something after some small talk and a couple more pauses. It’s about kids.

    “You know what?” she says. “We all make decisions that are right in our lives.”

    She adds nothing else to the subject. A close friend, Kathy Schloessman, says Trask has Rob and the Raiders. That’s her family.

    Trask was so close to Davis, Schloessmann says, that she’d be far more offended by a negative article about him than herself. It seems that most of Trask’s good friends, the ones who could penetrate that very tight circle, met her through business dealings.

    Schloessman, president of the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission, was working to bring the NFL to Los Angeles in the late 1990s when she met Trask. At first, Schloessman was intimidated by her. Now Trask is the kind of friend whom Schloessman says she can call any time, even in the middle of the night, if she has a problem.

    Tony Tavares, president of the Dallas Stars, is also in the circle. He says she’s as tough as any guy in business negotiations.

    “I don’t think Al Davis, maybe other than his wife and son, had anybody as loyal to him as Amy,” Tavares says. “Look, you know Al and his personality and his penchant for confrontation, if you will. And no matter how tough the sledding got, she was loyal to her owner and represented her owner in the best possible way.”

    How badly does Trask want to win for Davis? She won’t say. But eventually, during the course of a 70-minute phone call, Trask caves in and tells just one story about herself. It seems relatively safe and innocuous. It’s about her mom, Sel, who’s in her 80s now. Sel was a chemist, one of the smartest people in her class. When she graduated from college, she went looking for a job at all the big pharmaceutical companies. Every one of them turned her down. At her last interview, she asked why she wasn’t getting any jobs.

    “He looked at her as if she was just so silly to be asking that question,” Trask says. “He said to her, ‘You’re a stunning young woman with a large diamond on your left hand. No one’s going to hire you.'”

    It was the late 1940s. And Trask’s mom had to abandon her dream and do something else. Amy never had to do that. A few years back, Sel told her daughter how much she appreciated what Al Davis did. He gave her a chance.

    “I believe that he brought out the best in me,” Trask says. “And I believe he helped me be the strongest person I could be.”

    Elizabeth Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN.com. She can be reached at merrill2323@hotmail.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MerrillLiz.

  • Sullivan44

    I like Hue Jackson, but he’s got to hit that 12 win mark and get us to the AFC championship before he proves to me he’s better than Gruden.

  • DMAC

    LA to TheBay Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:17 am

    ghostraiders Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 11:16 am
    I like someone else posted last week… hue looks like a dwarfed sized Barry bonds..


    Hue = Barry after the roids wore off.

    Here’s Hue going for 4 super bowl trophies.


  • ghostraiders

    Al davis did a great job of setting us up with a good coach before his passing… al picked hue Jack.. Jackson picked Palmer. .curry. . Houch. . .. nice job al.. r.i p..

  • qodrn

    Dedicated to the legacy of Al Davis
    Protected by the rally squirrel and Coliseum rodents

    First: Ghostraider (exact score)
    Second: Sullivan44
    Third: Pretty Rick
    Fourth: Sullivan44
    Fifth: Fingers
    Sixth: Zymurge Raiders 23, Browns 17
    Honorable Mention: LA for PAIN
    Seventh: Noone…at all.

    8RaiderReign8 Raiders 31 Broncos 6
    860Todd Christensen Raiders 38 Donks 9
    909RaiderLifer RAIDERS—27 RENTED MULES—13
    Blackmamba_20 Raiders 31 Denver 13
    clayjay31 Donks 10 raiders 23
    Cole Ford Raiders 20….Broncos 7
    DaTruth91 Raiders 24 Donkies 10
    DeuceDeuce Raiders 31 Broncos 20
    DKnight007 Raiders 20 Ponies 10
    DonManoukiansNeighbor Raiders 21 Tebones 10
    downsouthraider Raiders 31 Donkeys 10
    DMAC Raiders 31 Donkies 3
    ElkGRaider Raiders 17 Mules 10
    exlaraiderseasonticketholder Raiders 34 Donkeys 17
    fingers Raiders..35….. Donks 13….
    Funk-O-Matic Oaktown 51 Denver Dumps 3
    GG Raiders 41 Bronco
    ghostraiders Raiders 27. Broncos 17
    John Jarndyce Raiders 24, Broncos 10
    Lowdown_in_Beijing Raiders 27 Broncos 3
    Macho Man Randy Savage Oak 27 Denv 24.
    McClain Raiders 31 Donkeys 13
    mcfadden20. 39-13 Raiders
    Mum-O-killowe Raiders 38 Donks 9
    OICU812B4 Raiders 61 Broncos 3
    Otis60 Raiders 34 Broncos 14
    PlunkforHOF My beloved Oakland Raiders: 27
    Horse-Faced Crybabys: 3
    JT Denver 20 Raiders 17
    r8dercain Raiders 28 Broncos 13
    RaiderintheRockies Silver&Black–36 Beasts of Burden–13
    909RaiderLifer Silver&Black – 36 Beasts of Burden – 13
    raiderjhawk Raiders 27 Bronc-ho’s 13
    Raiders_83 Raiders 35 Donkeys 13
    raiderkoolaid Raiders 24 denver 14
    RaiderRetribution Raiders 35 Denver 0!
    RaiderRockstar Raiders 24 Horse Humpers 13
    RedneckRaider Raiders 31 Broncos 6
    rob_raider raiders 31 broncos 13
    saladfingerz raiders 34 burritos 3
    SilverAndBlackBleeder Raiders 33 Broncos 10
    Slurp Slurp Raiders 40 FartFart 10
    Sullivan44 Raiders 24, Broncos 7
    TheToozFan55 Raiders – 28 Denfur – 17
    Zymurge Raiders 41, Donkeys 13