The evolving reports of the incident between Tom Cable and Randy Hanson has given an opportunity for everyone to muse on one of their favorite NFL topics: the Raiders are a joke. There is more to be learned from this current display of dramatics.
Here is what we know:
Hanson is suffering from a broken face.
Raiders coaches aren’t directly talking to the media, but Cable told Mark Schlereth of ESPN he did not punch anyone.
Hanson told the police that the broken face was the result of the actions of another coach.
Raiders players greeted Cable with chants of Cable bumaye.
The Raiders are not going to punish Cable but are looking at Hanson. The league is looking into the incident and it is possible Cable may face league discipline.
Here is what we can reasonably assume we know:
Hanson was not being exactly cordial, during a coaches meeting, with his boss, John Marshall, and Cable took exception to Hanson’s tone.
Cable either struck him or moved his chair in a way that caused the broken face.
Hanson was subsequently offered, and likely refused, a reduced role within the organization.
By the majority of journalists and football fans, this is being treated as another sign that flagship Raider is chaotically floundering in rudderless movements. It is being pointed out that Cable is in jeopardy of being viewed as a hypocrite by the players when asking for discipline, and this is not the way that leaders behave.
It did not come as a shock that this incident is being used as an opportunity to pile on the negative comments regarding the Raiders. That is what six years of losing and a history of cultivating a villain’s image will do. This is, however, a gross over reaction. We have no idea how the interaction transpired between the coaches.
Hanson very well may have been physically threatening to the 65-year-old Marshall and he may have been warned that he needed to adjust his current course of action or face consequences.
We will likely never know what transpired in that room, but if we have to assume a choice between, a) Cable sucker punched a coach, because he was disagreeing and this is the way Cable handles conflict or b) Cable did something to a chair, after warning Hanson, that resulted in Hanson’s broken face—I’ll take door b.
In light of the evidence choice b is the only reasonable option. As far as I know Cable has not suckered punched anyone else in his coaching career and is well respected by his peers. Hanson had problems addressing superiors last year.
Now, what does this all really show us? First, it shows a sense of team unity that was not present last year.
Last year, after Hanson’s incident, Kiffin wanted him fired, but Al did not back his coach to allow for anything more than a suspension. I do not know if Cable wants Hanson fired or not, or if Hanson will or has been fired, but I do know Al apparently has no problem with Cable’s actions.
If Cable is in danger of losing his standings with his players it is not apparent. The chants of Cable bumaye show a team of players that feel connected to their coach. A coach without the respect of his players is going to face more silent grumbling than playful chants.
Players that are tired of hearing a coach preaching things he does not believe, or feel their coach needlessly victimizes the undeserving are not going to greet him with chants.
I am not foolish enough to say that having a head coach strike an assistant is an optimal situation—conflict among coaches should be used to find the most possible, effective schemes. It is hard to come up with solutions while physically fighting.
It is hard to work with someone when feelings of animosity are so strong that they give birth to physical violence. One thing that is obvious is the Raiders coaches are full of passion!
Beside the negatives though I am excited by the prospect of a team being united, not divided, under a coach. This kind of behavior cannot be repeated, but as a one-time incident, should not be harmful to the team’s chances at success.
This is a great opportunity to unify this team and give it a strong identity to take on. More than any year, I think this is the chance for the Raiders adopt the “us against the world” mentality.
As for Randy Hanson, who is rumored to be contemplating suing the Raiders, I cannot help but think of The Dark Knight.
More specifically, the scene where Bruce Wayne’s employee is telling Morgan Freeman/Luscius Fox that he knows Bruce is Batman and he wants money to keep quiet, to which Luscius replies, "Let me get this straight. You think that your employer, one of the richest men in the world, is spending his nights running around the city beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands? And your plan is to blackmail him? Good luck."