Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali either hasn’t seen the Raiders play this season, or he simply is doing his part to stoke the fires of a rivalry game between two teams with a combined 3-9 record.
For, Hali came out of nowhere with comments about how the Raiders play dirty and he and his teammates are on high alert.
“It’s a tradition,” Hali told the Kansas City Star in advance of Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium. “The Raiders, they come in, they cheapshot, they hit you.”
Hali didn’t get into specifics, just made a blanket accusation that might have carried weight last decade.
“I’m not saying names,” Hali said. “It is what it is. We’ve got to be ready to play and keep our composure, stayed poised and be able to get this win.”
Raiders fullback Marcel Reece took Hali’s comments as a compliment.
“If somebody’s talking about you, you’re doing something right,” Reece said. “You’re doing something good. We play hard. We don’t play dirty. But everybody has their right to their own opinion. Obviously divisional opponents are going to feel it a little more because it’s a rivalry. Those weeks are different. Hey, he has his right to his opinion. Like I said, if somebody says something about you, it means you’re doing something right.”
Without going over every penalty committed by the Raiders this season, none springs to mind that would validate Hali’s claim.
The Raiders set league records for penalties (163) and yards penalized (1,358) last season. However, this season the Raiders have been pretty well behaved in terms of penalties, especially the personal foul variety.
“The core guys that have been here, they understand what we’ve got going on Sunday,” Hali said. “(The Raiders) are coming in, and they’re a good team and a fast team and they play dirty. We’ve got to come out swinging.
“We’ve got to be ready for that. You can let these guys come in and if they do it and you let them do it, they’re going to enjoy themselves doing it and they’ll run over you. So you have to be prepared for that and stay with the game plan.”
Reece said Hali’s comments probably owe to the Raiders reputation as renegades over the decades.
“I love it,” Reece said. “I love it. You’re going to keep hearing it forever. It’s that mystique, I guess.”
Raiders defensive back Michael Huff tried to avoid the situation before offering a tepid response.
“I don’t think we’re dirty,” Huff said. “I just think we play physical, aggressive football, like it’s supposed to be played.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen predictably stayed above the fray.
“He’s entitled to his opinion,” Allen said of Hali.
— If nothing else, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel is a realist.
On Thursday, Crennel was asked by reporters why he removed a sign outside the locker room that said: “Eliminate Bad Football” and replaced it with one that reads “Play Good Football.”
“I thought that after we put that ‘bad’ football sign up, we didn’t eliminate bad football,” Crennel said, “so I thought maybe if I changed it and put up the sign that said ‘play good football,’ we might play some good football and put that in the forefront of their mind.”
Crennel is fond of displaying signs that he hopes will lead to positive thinking by his players.
After a 1-5 start, Crennel felt the need to go another direction.
“You get a feeling about a sign or about a phrase that somebody has said something or something like that, you put the sign up,” Crennel said. “It’s a buzz point to get them thinking about things. Sometimes it’s pictures, sometimes it’s signs.”
Someone then asked Crennel if he thought about putting up a sign that says, “Win the Super Bowl.”
“We’re not ready for that yet.”
— Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn is one of the players former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin wanted to select in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, according to Al Davis.
Davis said Kiffin changed his mind several times along the way, with Davis ultimately overruling Kiffin and others in the process in favor of quarterback JaMarcus Russell with the No. 1 pick.
For the record, Kiffin said he wanted wide receiver Calvin Johnson, which is what I heard from several other people involved in the process.
Either way, Quinn was picked by the Browns and played his first three seasons there before being traded to the Denver Broncos for running back Peyton Hillis and a sixth-round draft pick.
Quinn didn’t play in any games for the Broncos the past two seasons. Now he is attempting to resurrect his career with the Chiefs, who suddenly aren’t sold on Matt Cassel as the long-term answer.
Coincidentally, the Raiders played the Browns in 2007 and ’09, but Quinn didn’t play in either game. Therefore, Sunday marks the first time the Raiders will face Quinn in a game.
Quinn is one of the players the Raiders interviewed before the ’07 draft, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp confirmed.
The top six quarterbacks in that draft class were Russell, Quinn (No. 22), Kevin Kolb (No. 36), John Beck (No. 40), Drew Stanton (No. 43) and Trent Edwards (No. 92).
“John DeFilippo, our quarterback coach, and I were with him, and John put him through a pretty rigorous interview process,” Knapp said of Quinn. “He did a fine job in the interview process. Extremely bright, understood football, based on what the coaches had told us and his interaction, he really seemed to love football. Was always around it, and wanted to do the extra stuff, before practice, after practice. And so I was very impressed with him.”
Knapp said Russell, Quinn and a third quarterback that he couldn’t recall were under consideration by the Raiders in that draft. One story from that time had the Raiders interested in Edwards in the second round.
“It was still a pretty good battle, because on tape there were three guys I believe that year that came out, there was a pretty good competition going on that you really had a chance with any of these to make it work,” Knapp said.
As it turned out, none of those quarterbacks did, or have done, much of note. Russell was released after three season and is out of the game.
— Said it numerous times during the offseason, and I’ll say it again: No team is going to run away with the AFC West this season and there’s no reason why the Raiders can’t emerge with their first division title in 10 seasons.
Need more proof? Things are so jumbled in the AFC West that the Raiders can awake Monday either tied for first place with the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers or tied for last place with the Chiefs.
For the former to happen, the Raiders need a win over the Chiefs and losses by the Broncos to the New Orleans Saints and the Chargers to the Browns. In that case, all three teams would be 3-4. If the Raiders lose Sunday, they drop into a last-place tie with the Chiefs at 2-5.
— Given the Raiders had 19 players on the injury report the past two days, Allen backed off a bit this week.
“We’ve got some bumps and bruises,” Allen said. “Most of those injuries are not anything that I would believe would keep us out of a lot of games. The guys are banged up a little bit. We took the pads off of them a little bit this week trying to get some of them back.”
— Allen still isn’t committed on whether he will activate linebacker Aaron Curry for Sunday’s game.
Curry is in his second week of practice after returning from the physically unable to perform list. The Raiders have a little less than two weeks left before they are forced to decide whether to activate Curry, waive him or place him on the injured-reserve list.
One thing is certain: If Curry returns, he will do so as a backup at all three positions.
“Yeah, that’s the way I would look at it,” Allen said. “He’s an experienced player, so his ability to play multiple positions would help us. Hopefully his health is going to be fine, and we’re going to be able to get him back out there.”
— Defensive end Desmond Bryant was held out of practice today because of a sore elbow. Allen said he isn’t sure yet about Bryant’s status for the Chiefs game.
“We’re hoping that he’s going to be able to practice (Friday) and then we’ll be able to make a decision after that,” Allen said. “We’ll wait and see how he does tomorrow, how he practices. That’s what our mindset is. I believe that’s what his mindset is also.”
— The fact running back Darren McFadden suffered his season-ending foot injury against the Chiefs in Game 7 last season isn’t lost on McFadden as he prepares to play the Chiefs in Game 7 this season.
The injury occurred one year, two days ago. McFadden had this to say about how much progress he has made since the Lisfranc injury to his right foot.
“Well, as far as my injury thing goes, I’m very happy with (the progress),” McFadden said. “But at this time last year, I feel like I was a lot more productive as far as yardage and things. So, that part of it, I can’t say I’m not happy about it but I would have liked for it to have been more right now.”
McFadden had 611 yards through six games last season. He has 324 at that point this season.