One of the biggest stories in the short off season for the Oakland Raiders was the already epic news conference with Al Davis and Hue Jackson.
Whenever Davis is set to speak at a news conference the world stops and reporters salivate as they prepare their regular puns and hope to catch quotes to laugh about the next day. Davis didn’t fall short of expectations as he stole the show and gave writers plenty to write about.
Davis may have made headlines with his words, but he’ll be making more headlines with his actions as the offseason progresses. Make no mistake about it: Coach Davis still knows football and he will be leading the Raiders back to the top.
Say what you want about Davis, but he is making all the right moves so far this offseason. As a matter of fact, he started making all those moves last season. Davis took credit for the draft last year and it was one of the best drafts that any team in the NFL had in 2010.
Critics like to bash Davis for his drafting abilities because of JaMarcus Russell who is no longer with the team and Darrius Heyward-Bey who has struggled to produce immediate numbers. Davis has always been the type to draft athletes and fast players in the draft.
What most people never mention when they look at past Raiders drafts are the players picked outside of the first round.
Davis has found solid players in the later rounds. Players like Jacoby Ford, Matt Shaughnessy, Tyvon Branch, Michael Bush, Louis Murphy, Lamarr Houston, Zach Miller, Trevor Scott and Mike Mitchell are all players who have and will continue to contribute to the Raiders.
Davis has also done a great job the last couple of years bringing veterans in that have helped the Raiders improve like Richard Seymour and Jason Campbell. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment in the last two years was bringing in new head coach Hue Jackson.
Davis brought Jackson in as the offensive coordinator in 2010 and just like most of us expected he was named the head coach for the 2011 season. Jackson is a high energy guy that knows how to develop and motivate players.
While everyone laughs and pokes fun of Davis now, he may be the last one laughing when the team he has built makes their way back to the top. The Raiders are the “Team of the Decades” because they’ve been to the Super Bowl in every decade but the 90’s.
It’s easy for reporters to make fun of Davis when most haven’t had the opportunity to speak him or talk football with him.
Davis likes to keep the media out of the loop and doesn't invite them much into his organization. That is one of the reasons he is often attacked by members of the media, and many believe that is part of the reason many Raider greats haven't been inducted into the Hall of Fame which is run by members of the media.
In my recent interview with Howie Long, I asked him about Davis and his knowledge of football and he had this to say about him:
“Well you know there’s not an owner in football who knows the X’s and O’s of football like Al Davis. I think a lot of people don’t even realize this but Al coached the team to the single biggest turnaround at that point in NFL history. Then [he] moved to the front office and took over as managing general partner of the team and running the football team. He built teams that have been in Super Bowls in four different decades and won three Super Bowls. But to have teams that have played in Super Bowls in four different decades is amazing accomplishment."
This offseason will be very crucial for Davis and the Raiders. Davis has the opportunity to show the world he still has it. The 2011 season could be the year of the Raiders return to the top, but there is a lot of work to be done.
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