Oakland's Smoking Gun: Al Davis Sticks It to His Critics

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2009

ALAMEDA, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks during a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders at thier training facility on Septemer 30, 2008 in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Al Davis is starting to take on the image of a man who will live forever.

Saturday, amist a wrath of recent criticism, Al Davis came out of hiding and spoke publicly for the first time since February. It's safe to say that he had a lot on his mind.

One of the first things Mr. Davis said was, "I want to state this from the very beginning, and let him tell you, let Coach Cable tell you, there was never—and I can give you a little idea of the trade, but that we won’t do right now—but it was never any doubt that Richard wanted to play for the Raiders."

Ok, that was media stick No. 1. He might as well have said, "Haha, you people got it wrong about my team again."

He continued on to give the media the real reason for Richard Seymour's long absence from the team, "He liked the idea of the Raiders, and coach Cable got that from him very quickly on the telephone, that he liked the idea of the Raiders. He just wanted to get over the shock, and the blindside if that’s the right word, he had, based on them calling and telling him he’d been traded, but this is part of our lives. "

Later, one of the reporters asked No. 92, "Did you talk to Randy Moss or Derrick Burgess and were you concerned because they were here through coaching changes?"

After respectfully letting Seymour answer the question, Al chimed in, "Listen, Derrick has never been negative. Derrick wanted more money that we couldn’t give him. Randy Moss was great here for us. We couldn’t satisfy Randy, that was our fault. He’s a truly great player.

"The idea when you get a great player is to make him happy and satisfy him. But I’ll tell you this. For example, there’s one player (Rodney Harrison?) that I remember that keeps attacking us. In the year 2003, he sat in my office and begged for a contract, and wouldn’t give it to him because of rumors.

"That guy attacked us on the television shows, and it’s only because I wouldn’t give him a contract and I wouldn’t let him play here. I can go through the litany."

Al continued on to say, "We have one guy [Michael Lombardi?] on our own network that we own, the NFL Network, who’s worked for five teams in this league, he’s been fired by all five teams and he comes on as an expert and says that Richard doesn’t want to play for the Raiders, he doesn’t want to go out there.

"Which was totally untrue, because I would have backed away if he didn’t want to come out here. And I say to you, it isn’t what you think it is."

Mr Davis was truly shining on this day, he checked down to a former Oakland quarterback, while making sure to diss his favorite recent trading partner in the process, "Andrew Walter, left here, he was disappointed, he didn’t play. He played for four different coaches.

"He goes up to New England, they tell him they’re going to play him in the last preseason game for a half. He doesn’t get to play a down and they cut him the next day. So at least here he played some downs."

Davis was asked what he thought about the grievance filed on behalf of Seymour by the NFLPA, he said, "I thought that was minimal, it was nothing. I’m sure that they won’t even go through with it. They had nothing. They just wanted to let you know that the Players Association is still available. Whatever we did, we were entitled to do."

He turned out to be correct, they dropped the suit soon after Seymour arrived in Oakland. He added, "They can’t do anything. I don’t even know what your question is other than they filed a grievance. Anybody can file anything. That grievance meant nothing. The rules state that I could do it. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise."

Mr. Davis was a smoking gun. He was firing on all cylinders Saturday. He proved he is still very sharp, and made Raider Nation proud to be a part of the franchise. He gave us hope, and lit a spark under his players and coaches.

Davis was asked about why the Raiders waited to do the trade until so late in the off-season, he was electric in his response, "Well we couldn’t do it in February and March because if we could have done it, we’d have done it...both Tom Cable and I knew that the one we wanted. You shouldn’t tell them this, it’s the guy wearing No. 92.

"They were offering me some other things and it was at the end that I had an idea what happened. One day he said to me about two days before we made the trade, ‘Would you be interested in Seymour?’ I didn’t put the phone down or anything, I said ‘Yeah I’d be interested in Seymour.’ I said ‘What do you want’ and he told me what he wanted for him. And I said I would do that. Can we do that now?

"Bill said to me he has to check with Kraft. I laughed because I thought all coaches had complete ability to do what they wanted. It’s only this place where they have to go to the owner if they want to do something."

This is so typical of the media to point out that Al Davis is very hands on with his oraganization. They must not realize that he acts the role of the GM as well as the role of owner. How about this for a shot at the critics? I love it, classic Al, and he was at his best.

I asked someone of sound mind earlier today, "If you had a bussiness/franchise/whatever, wouldn't you meddle in it's affairs?"

The guy said, "Definitely, especially if you have as much vested in your team as Al Davis. He built the team, coached it, ad made it an empire. How could anyone expect him to just relinquish the reigns?"

Al was obviously upset by all the criticism, he said, "While we were assuring him of our severe interest, the whole country—the eastern press and even our own—local press said he didn’t want to be here. That hurt because we wanted to come out publicly and say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about because he does want to be here.’"

When Richard Seymour was asked, "What drew you to the Raiders?" Al Davis wittily chimed in, "It was the owner."

In response to critics, who said that the Raiders overpayed to get their man, "Sometimes you’ve got to overpay to get what you want. But I didn’t overpay. I don’t think that’s overpaying at all. Sometimes you have to, you don’t always win the battle, the idea is to get the player."

Davis got fed up with ignorant questions, like "Norv Turner talked of using Sapp like Seymour, even then he was talked of as being a unique player..."

Before the reporter could finish, Davis cut him of and said, "Yeah, but he was wrong. He didn’t."

The reporter continued, "But even then invoking he was invoking Seymour’s name even though he’d only been in the league a few years..."

Again Davis stopped the reporter mid-sentence and said, "I’ve always had my eye on Seymour because it’s tough to play the right end in a three-man line. We’ve had one great player do that --Lyle Alzado. He’s someone that we’ve been watching for years and I never thought we’d get a shot at him."

And to get him in his prime has got to make it even more sweet. Even the media refrenced Greg Ellis was a great free agent signing by the Raiders this off-season, and Seymour is five years younger than Ellis.

Shifting gears, Mr. Davis was in a state of sadness over the loss of wide receiver Chaz Schilens saying, "I’m just shook over Schilens, that bothered me, because he’s a great player and he meant a lot to JaMarcus."

He stated, "JaMarcus missed Schilens for awhile because every time he would be in trouble, if you noticed, you knew where that ball was going, and the other guy would catch it."

Davis said Chaz is a very talented player that he one day hopes to see get into the Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He implied that he wants Schilens to play for the Raiders for a long time.

He said wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will be a great receiver once he comes around. He said, "What’s-his-name was called, 'oops,’ I told you this—Jerry Rice with the 49ers. Couldn’t catch the ball. Terrell Owens. Couldn’t catch the ball. Fred Biletnikoff, I was going to trade him, then at the last minute I kept him, because he couldn’t catch the ball. Somehow or other they came around and Darrius will come around."

He was asked if he saw improvement in JaMarcus Russell's game. Davis said, "Yes, he’s quicker, he’s more aware, but you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to win. And all this other stuff is...you’ve got to win."

Mr. Davis' last shot of the day was aimed via the reporter's at former head coach Lane Kiffin. Davis was asked if he watched the Tennessee-UCLA game, and he said he did in fact watch it.

He was asked if he was happy about the result, and Mr. Davis, as professionally as ever said, " I didn’t care one way or the other. I know Neuheisel. I know the other fella who coaching the other team. I did see the similairites, though, when you get near the goal line."

This was vintage Al Davis. What a great way for Oakland to open the season. Al got the fans pumped, the players pumped, and put the national exploiter's (aka media) in their place.

Al is truely a smoking gun, his legacy will live forever, even if he can't pull the Mr. Burns and physically live forever.

This is why Raider Nation loves Mr. Davis. This is why you can't listen to the haters. This is everything that makes the Oakland Raiders one of the most prolific franchise's in the history of pro sports.

And by the way, Al Davis is not insane, yet...


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