Since 2003, the sports media has led non-Raider fans to believe that the draft-pick flops by the Oakland Raiders were solely the responsibility of Al Davis.
I however disagree, and I will explain why.
In 2006, Art Shell called-out personnel director Michael Lombardi and banned Lombardi from the practice field for, "rooting against the team." After the 2-14 season, Shell was let go, as was Lombardi as personnel director for the Raiders.
As Lombardi's last move on Draft Day in 2007, he orchestrated the trade of WR Randy Moss to the New England Patriots, and the acquisitions of QB Josh McCown and WR Mike Williams from the USC offense of new coach, Lane Kiffin.
On one hand, Lombardi told Davis that Moss couldn't run and even said the same thing to any dope in the media willing to listen to his attempts to protect his reputation. After all, that termination would be Lombardi's fifth by an NFL team. Lombardi had to do something to protect his name.
According to Davis, Lombardi would commit tampering by telling his former colleague from the Browns, Bill Belichik, that Moss could run.
And what better way for Lombardi to protect his name than to sabotage Davis' attempts to rebuild a wayward franchise? Once Lombardi was gone, there would be no one left for Al to blame.
Turns out, Lombardi wasn't the scape-goat for Al Davis. Davis was the scapegoat for Lombardi.
Meanwhile, Lombardi had a willing partner in *crime* in Lane Kiffin who clearly had bought the media line that Davis had *lost it* and thus attempted undermine Davis and bring in friends and family (Mike Williams, while Kiffin would attempted to fire Rob Ryan and hire his dad, Monte).
Kiffin would also insist on starting Josh McCown at quarterback, after Davis had selected JaMarcus Russell to be the future of the franchise. Kiffin, according to Davis, did not want to select Russell.
All the while, the ravenous sports media would declare that Davis should let the coach determine the personnel, even though that is a right reserved only for coaches who also double as general manager (which is something that rarely, if ever, works).
At the time that comments were made by Shell and Davis, the sports media had accused Shell and Davis of scape-goating, but knowing what we know now about Kiffin and Lombardi, history already shows a different perspective.
If you ask me, those who accuse Davis of being "crazy" are in fact conspiracy theorists, because the only way that a reasonable person could believe that is to deny the facts.
"Reporters"; like Jay Mariotti of ESPN openly admitted that he recklessly reports gossip about the Raiders and Davis, and thus does not investigate. As they say, make it global, and thus, I doubt that Mariotti is alone in the sports media with his delusional feelings of persecution by Davis.
Is it any wonder then that fans, players, and executives have believed in lies about a man, Davis, who built a team from nothing, a team that wasn't supposed to exist, into a three time Super Bowl winner that had the NFL's best winning percentage for over 20 years?
Lies from the media (and eventually Kiffin) created the internal discord and drama that led players to distrust Davis, such as Jerry Porter, Phillip Buchanon, and Charles Woodson.
Unless you really do believe that Davis is to blame for the 'roid rager Bill Romanowski and his assault against a teammate in 2003. Or that Davis is to blame for the fact that Barrett Robbins suffered from bi-polar disorder, before and after his tenure with the Raiders.
Kiffin is today what he was yesterday: A drama queen that lied his way into the Raiders and expected full reign by any means necessary.
And all one must do to prove that Michael Lombardi was behind the flops is look at the success of Raider draft picks without Michael Lombardi.
2007 (10 total picks):
JaMarcus Russell, qb (starter)
Zach Miller, te (starter)
Mario Henderson, ot (starting left-tackle)
Johnnie Lee Higgins, rs-wr (primary returner, occasional big-reception)
Michael Bush, rb (significant backup, occasional starter)
Jay Richardson, de (former starter, now backup)
Oren O'Neal, fb (primary fullback)
2008 (5 total picks):
Darren McFadden, rb (primary half-back)
Tyvon Branch, fs (starter)
Trevor Scott, de (rusher)
Chaz Schilens, wr (future starter, currently hurt)
Time will tell on 2009, but so far there has been plenty of promise.
2009 (7 total picks; 1 undrafted):
Darrius Heyward-Bey, wr
Michael Mitchell, s
Matt Shaughnessy, de
Louis Murphy, wr (starter)
Brandon Myers, te
Desmond Bryant, dt
*Richard Seymour, de (by trade of 2011 1st round pick)