Al Davis and the Media Re-Visited

Al's WingmanAnalyst IJuly 29, 2009

Oakland Raider fans like to point to the media as a villain, always looking for opportunities to slam their team.  However subtle, the clues are there according to observers.  Therefore, it must be true.


Who is responsible for this?


It couldn’t be Al Davis could it? 


Does any other franchise in any sport retain a double standard when it comes to dealing with the media?


Though they don’t verbalize it to you (the fan), the Raiders front office takes the position that the media is only interested in slamming them, not promoting their community outreach initiatives.


If that was reality however, then we would never know about their public relations efforts such as painting Asian airplanes in Raider colors, spreading the broadcasting rights to Hispanic radio, replacing turf at predominantly African American high school fields, their numerous charity events of many varieties.


But then the double standard is they can’t be bothered with freely offering team news very often, unless suits their purposes.


They can’t even be bothered with telling players themselves when they have been dropped from the roster in some instances.


But let's take a look back in time in search of why this might be the reality of the Raiders franchise. This is a time when Al was a younger man in a younger role of leading a fledgling franchise in a fledgling pro football league.


That was his first real foray in dealing with "newspaper men" (a term Al still uses).  He was suspicious of them in those early days yet managed to co-exist with them on formal terms.


On a positive note, Al thought treatment was fair to him in a biography written by retired sportswriter Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Chronicle.


Dickey’s “Just Win, Baby: Al Davis and His Raiders” is a contrast to Mark Ribowsky's unauthorized Al Davis biography "Slick: The Silver and Black Life of Al Davis” which is a massive book.  If you have a long plane flight, that is the book you want to bring with you.


Bottom line is Al has limited trust in newspaper men.  This is the reason why the Raiders are overly cautious and aloof with public relations.  Al does not feel obligated to share because he has been criticized too much by the people he keeps at arm’s length.


But Al’s glaring flaw is he still doesn’t know how to deal with the problem of the media covering his team.  We can see he tries to do things on his own terms with his overhead projector and his emotion taking over leading to freewheeling comments.  He believes he is doing right by telling the story he wants told but his words only fuel more parody and criticism.


Al is a cagey dude.  He only spills his guts when things reach a boiling point in his mind and he feels a need to try and set the record straight.  He is aware of criticism, doesn’t like it, and makes an effort to turn it around through the very source he attributes to the problem.  In his world, this is the best method to deal with the problem.  Can you say backfire?


From the masses of silver and black lifers, few true Al backers still exist.  Only dolts who believe he can do no wrong or think they are somehow in good graces with the man himself still look to Al’s public relations methods as savvy.


It’s not even true to say he is stuck in his ways.  He does try new ways of approaching the media but nothing seems to work right.  You have to wonder who’s fault that is.