Tom Cable is a wise, wise man.
I was not fully aware of this until I read Sunday’s Jets post-game comments. In fact, I was probably placing him somewhere on the wisdom spectrum that found the wise end of the teeter-totter flying in the sky like a kite. Now, however, I am beginning to understand the endless scope of his intellect.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” In the light of William Blake’s genius, I began to see a statement by Tom Cable, “he just kind of threw it up there,” for what it is: an amazingly succinct and appropriate summary for all things that happened to the Raiders and their fans on Sunday.
This is a Sunday that has grown all too familiar to Raider Nation with its annual arrival over the past seven years. We, the members of Raider Nation, are not sure which Sunday it will be and have become adept at living in the blissful denial of its pending arrival, despite the fact it always does.
It is the Sunday where all silver fades away and we are left with only black. A Sunday that rides in like an unannounced overbearing dinner guest.
I realized this would be Black Sunday while enjoying the comforts offered by a local place of business that serves delicious food and stiff drink. That’s right, I was at church. A church with walls ordained by flat-screen TVs decorated by the action of each NFL game.
Black Sundays invariably find me kneeling on the ground next to hope’s carcass, straining to hear her final thoughts before that fatal last breath dissipates into the sky.
Then, right as hope struggles to enunciate a point that will make all of the madness and misery come together in some unifying and meaningful way, that last breath slides out.
Left in the wake of silence, I am filled with questions and scorn for a hobby that, for seven years, has brought me nothing but lost hours spent caring about a floundering franchise prone to creating disappointment.
Or as Cable more succinctly said, I “just kind of threw it up there.” Don’t worry; I cleaned it up (I don’t want to be banned from church).
During his enlightening post-game conference, it became apparent that this game was over before it really started. "He was really out of sorts early in the game," Cable said when referring to Russell.
Yeah, we know, Tom. “He just kind of threw it up there.”
Cable called out JaMarcus Russell more today than at any other time of his career. Which is saying a lot because Russell has had some horrible games. Was Russell that much worse and unprepared today, or were these comments the results of strain and a last-ditch attempt to reach a seemingly unreachable player?
What, exactly, does it mean when a coach who has been protecting his quarterback says to the media he was “out of sorts?”
Was Russell stoned? Was he so hung over that the fog had not lifted from his brain enough to, as Cable informed us in his post-game comments, get his team aligned properly on the first play?
Was it peyote? I hope so...that is a hell of a lot more interesting than just another hungover athlete.
Maybe he was in Mexico the night before with Barrett Robins as they tried, in a fiendish peyote/mescaline binge, to exorcise whatever demons Barrett awoke on Super Bowl Eve.
If this is the case, more power to the young lad, but “he should have just thrown it up there” before the game started. Just get it out of his system, so he could focus on getting his team aligned right on the first play.
Maybe I am being too hard on him. The NFL game moves fast. Strategies and game plans change, and it can be hard to get your team into the huddle from the previous play and sometimes coaches get the plays in late. Or maybe all of these things would be more applicable had it not been the first play from scrimmage of the game.
In any case, as helpless fans watched the disaster unfold, we were not aware that Russell was “out of sorts”; we saw our hope quickly dim on the first play as the rush was bearing down on him.
Cable was thinking, as he pointed out in his post-game statements, “Russell should check it down to a back.”
I was yelling for him to just “throw it up there. Somewhere! Here he comes! Tuck it away! No, don’t try and throw it nowwww...oh, Christ! Nice handoff to the Jets.”
The collective groans, of the few Raiders fans in the bar, caused the rest of the establishment to look at the screen showing the Raiders action. This inspired a room full of sly grins. This is a grin that everyone who is not a fan of the Raiders enjoys often.
All those beaming grins and smiles of superiority are pointing right at Raiders Owner/GM Al Davis. The kind of smile reserved for an egotistical man, who had his glory and rubbed other's faces in it.
Now that he is slipping down a huge slope, despite the efforts of his crypt keeping death grip, he has to eat crow from all those he stomped on his way to the top.
“Damn it!” I screamed out in frustration, as it was quickly 7-0. “You let the vultures smile like this after one offensive play, really? Russell should have just thrown it up there.”
I had to remind myself that there is plenty of game left. They can still get something going. “Russell seems unfazed,” I thought as the camera showed him on the sideline sitting comfortably by the Gatorade cooler in his Raider stocking cap.
“He looks healthy and ready to get something going,” I hopefully thought. Maybe whatever was bothering him “he just threw it up there.” That would explain his close proximity to the Gatorade cooler. One needs fluids after something like that. At least he has that stocking hat, in case the chills set in.
“This was a rough start, but they can still turn things around.” I said to myself as I flexed my helpless Raider hope muscles.
Russell takes the field and things are looking a little better as the Raiders approach midfield. Then Russell, under a fierce rush and backpedaling, “just kind of throws it up there,” hitting the only player within 10 yards of that area in stride. Unfortunately, for the Raiders and Raider Nation, that player was wearing the famous colors of the Titans.
Wait, who are the Raiders playing again? I don’t know. I thought the Titans were supposed to blue and white. Aren’t the Raiders playing the Jets today? What about the Oilers? Maybe the Texans should play in Tennessee and the Titans could be the Oilers, but then who would the Raiders be playing right now?
I quickly moved past this confusion. While it was not obvious who they were playing, it was obvious that they are way better than the Raiders!
The guy who is not a Raider and caught Russell’s backpedaling heave is about to score. “Not so fast, Mr. Titan/Jet! JaMarcus is getting good at this tackling thing” I exclaimed as Russell helped force him out of bounds at the four.
I am not a quarterback coach, but I am pretty sure it is bad when a quarterback is showing more signs of progress tackling then he is throwing.
“Damn it! Football is stupid” I blurt out to a bar that is again filled with sly grins, “I wish they were playing a high school team! I am tired of watching them play teams that are so much better than they are. Stupid schedule! The NFL hates the Raiders!”
After the game, Richard Seymour would let me know that these hopes were foolish too. "I don't think we could have beaten an Oakland high school team today."
Maybe Richard forgot that some of the smaller schools still only play with eight men on the field. I bet they could beat one of those teams.
Back to the game, good news for Russell he gets to put his beanie back on, grab some more water and sit down next to his best friend, the Gatorade cooler. Maybe he should “just throw it up there.” Maybe the Raiders should dress a coach like a Gatorade cooler and he could slowly introduce Russell to the reality that coolers can show you pictures of the game action and advise you on ways to more successfully “just throw it up there.”
Shockingly enough, the Jets put together another impressive drive while they marched it four yards down the field for a touchdown.
At this point I couldn’t help think to myself, “I don’t think I like the way this is going. At least JaMarcus looks unrattled. He must be ready to go this time.”
And he was. The Raiders put together a little drive. Until, on a first down play in the Jets/Titans side of the field, he dropped back and “he just kind of threw it up there” into the end zone. Darnelle Revis picked it off.
After the game, this was the actual play that inspired Cable’s “throw up” comment, Russell responded, “I thought I gave (Watkins) a chance to make a play...a 50-50 chance. I thought I made a throw where he should go up and have a chance at the ball."
Uh...really? First, the throw was a to the wrong shoulder. Second, it was Todd Watkins against Darnelle Revis. Russell must have been a little “out of sorts” because last time I checked Watkins really sucks and Revis is really good. I wonder if Russell’s linemen would block better for him if he shared his drugs?
By this time, people in the bar were looking upon the Raiders fans with pity, like we were a colony of lepers or those starving children, from the TV commercials, that only need three cents a day in order to get food and medicine. People were now offering me food and medicine/shots while pointing out all the awesome action going on in the other games.
“Oh look!” I said while still watching the Raider game but trying not to, “JaMarcus put on his beanie. Go sit next to the cooler, fat-ass! You never even drink the Gatorade. What the hell is wrong with you? Look at a picture or talk on that red phone...anything! Just pretend like you care!”
It was at this point while talking to a friend, who is not a Raider fan, that I finally settled on the fact that the best thing about Russell is how easy it is to make fun of him by just using his name: JaBust, JaWalrus, JaBurrito, JaSuck, JaFumble, JaBeanie, JaOut-of-sorts. This activity continued while even new nicknames emerged: JaBenched, JaCheerleader, etc.
In this game, Russell got plenty of time next to his friend, the cooler. His demeanor was unchanged by the benching and he showed as much emotion cheering Gradkowski as he has shown all season.
The game was so uncompetitive that Mark Sanchez decided to have a hot dog picnic on the sidelines, during the game. “I wish he would just kind of throw that up there,” I thought to myself, as I was trying not to watch the Raiders game.
Mercifully, the game ended and Gradkowski’s insertion reaffirmed that the problem with the Raiders goes way beyond who is playing quarterback, but that the Raider with the biggest problems is Russell. Unless, of course, you take his word for it.
Russell’s cool demeanor continued in his post game comments and he seemed to disagree with Cable’s assessments. When told Cable said he was “out of sorts” Russell responded, "Actually, I wasn't."
Was this because he “kind of threw it up there,” or is it due to the fact that being high on mescaline doesn’t really count as being out of sorts—it just counts as being high?
When asked at his locker what's been the biggest obstacle in his development, he replied: "Up and down. Up and down.”
Asked if he was referring to himself or the team he responded, “I don't think it's me, personally. I really don't. It's been a bad combination of one guy not doing something right one time, one guy another time.”
"Personally, I don't think so. Do you?" Russell added after a pause.
Well, JaNot-take-the-blame, I think when you suck, you say you suck...and you, my friend, suck. At that point, you can point out your teammates suck too, but first you make it evident that, indeed, it is you sucking the most.
Then try adding that you realized, as you were in the bathroom before the game “throwing it up there,” that you will never try to play an NFL game on peyote again.