Oakland Raiders fans from around the world that woke up on Sunday morning must have felt they suffered a serious hangover from the NFL Draft over the weekend. It is safe to assume Raider Nation is sad, shocked and confused by yesterday afternoon’s comical draft selections. Heck, I am confident that Raiders fans think this was a belated April Fool's joke pulled by the organization.
Once again, Raiders team owner, Al Davis stole the headlines from the 2009 NFL Draft. The eye-patch organization decided, with their seventh overall selection, to draft the ever popular "need of speed," in the form of Darrius Heyward-Bey, over the skills set of Michael Crabtree. Heyward-Bey, by all accounts, was ranked as the fourth or fifth best receiver on the draft boards.
Is it safe to say that Al Davis is not viewed seriously by his NFL competitors to consider trade options? The Cleveland Browns, who had the fifth overall selection, in a weak draft, were able to trade down on numerous occasions and receive extra picks.
Meanwhile, the Raiders sitting in their cave, must have had the conspiracy thoughts of whoever they trade down with, will take Heyward-Bey at the seventh selection. This is the only reason I could come up with as to why they selected this player this high in the draft.
Their first round selection was an eye opener for all NFL fans. But it was in the second round, where the Raiders really outdid themselves: They proceeded to select Ohio safety, Michael Mitchell. The television networks covering the draft, ESPN & NFL Network, did not even have a single highlight package nor any documentation on the career of Mr. Mitchell.
Luckily for Raiders fans, ESPN’s draft guru, Mel Kiper had a small comment on Mitchell in the far recesses of his black book of college prospects. This really must have eased the nerves of the entire Raider Nation to know that Mitchell has the penchant to be a big hitter.
Didn’t the Raiders fans hear the exact same rhetoric about another failed first round pick in Derrick Gibson? The lasting memory of Gibson was towards the end of his Raider career when he wound up trying to salvage his playing days in some failed linebacker formations.
Furthermore, during his press conference, Raiders head coach, Tom Cable compared Heyward-Bey’s skills to Randy Moss. Well, Raiders fans must have seen this act before because the Raiders actually had Randy Moss and not a reasonable facsimile of Randy Moss.
Having Moss as a Raider under Al Davis lasted two miserable years before resulting in Moss being dealt to New England for a fourth round pick. By the way, the last time I checked, Randy Moss, when he cared to play, paid dividends for the Patriots: two one-thousand yard receiving seasons and being a member of the the team that had the NFL's first flawless 16-0 regular season record.
Cable couldn't stop looking at the history books at that point: second-pick Mitchell's mentality was then likened to former greats Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum. Whatever happened to football skills?
What happened to terms like "he has a high football IQ" or he has "superior range over the middle of the field" rather than telling his audience that "he has great speed". Can I visualize AFC West running backs such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Jamaal Charles, and Peyton Hillis getting hammered by Mitchell at the line of scrimmage? At this time, has Raider Nation come to a point to settle for fictional visualization?
In due time, my gut is telling me that Al Davis will fly to Europe to meet with IOC president, Jacques Rogge. From there, in his Starter jumpsuit, he will hand over a notice paper indicting his intentions to have the Oakland Raiders represent itself as its own country in the Track and Field competition in the 2012 London Olympics.
I can see it now, the 100 metre final in Wembley Stadium featuring the defending champion Usain Bolt taking on Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tyvon Branch, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Thomas Howard, Michael Huff, Darren McFadden, Michael Mitchell, and Chaz Schilens for Olympic gold. Furthermore, if they want, they can have Robert Gallery and JaMarcus Russell in the shot put competition.
Did I forget to mention, the only player who has represented this organization with class has been Nnamdi Asomugha, and for that honour, he can be the official Oakland Raiders flag bearer for the opening ceremonies, unless, of course Davis wants someone faster to carry the flag.
In some ways it is disheartening to see how Al Davis is still living in grandfather time. He has become a shallow copy of Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano, from the television show, "The Sopranos." In the show’s storyline, Soprano was a prominent member of Soprano family.
As he got older, his mind started to turn on him and he was sent to the mental institution because he could no longer function normally. As sad as it is, Davis is slowly reaching that territory of not understanding what tangibles to look for in a football player.
A man, who was once viewed as maverick of the league, has turned his successful renegade organization into a shadow of its "commitment to excellence" creed.
If the Raiders are ever going rise to prominence again, they will need Al Davis to step aside as decision maker of player personnel. Otherwise, the daily dysfunction will continue on with their sights set on collecting Olympic track athletes rather than winning a Super Bowl ring.
However, before Davis reaches the low point, sending his so-called track athletes to the next Olympic Games, let’s see this team win more than five games in a season.