Will Michael Crabtree's Holdout Vindicate Al Davis?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJuly 31, 2009

This was the first thought that I had when I heard about Michael Crabtee's holdout.

Thank you, Al Davis, for the selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey.


After the NFL Draft, I had as many doubts about Heyward-Bey as most Raider fans.  However, I could honestly say that I had my doubts about Michael Crabtree's attitude, as did Seattle, Cleveland, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Kansas City.

Yet, the 'experts' and 'pundits' chalked-it-up as more 'craziness' from Al Davis.  I mention that, because on ESPN's Around The Horn Woody Paige has recently referred to Oakland as a "toxic dump," while Bob Ryan has called Al Davis, "crazy old Al Davis." 

Moreover, Ryan has had problems with making incendiary remarks of bigotry, such as Juwanna Kidd.  Comments like that about Davis, make me wonder if Ryan is merely an Irishman from Boston who dislikes Jews. 

Thus, if the 'journalists' want to stereotype someone with generalizations, I suggest that they look in the mirror first, and wonder if others could do to them what they've done to others.

The problem with that is that unless they can prove that Oakland is on a, "toxic dump" that is unknown by the EPA, or that Davis is in fact mentally ill or in fact a rabid animal then that is not journalism because it is only defamation.

Moreover, the Raiders had a situation too, which was they already had two superstar caliber players in JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden. The addition of Michael Crabree would have complicated the chemistry. 

Crabtree seems like Terrell Owens, and if Crabtree is like TO, I wouldn't want him to sabotage the quarterback (Russell).

After playing the devil's advocate, I started to think that Heyward-Bey was the equal but opposite version of Crabtree. Heyward-Bey had better tools (speed, size) while Crabtree had better college production.

The problem with production though is that, production from skill-positions often does not translate to the NFL.  We have seen that over-and-over again with former Trojans and Gators, such as receivers Peter Warrick, Dwayne Jarrett, Mike Williams, and others.

On top of that, Crabtree was unwilling to prove his speed, while his production came from a gimmicky offense at Texas Tech, which just compounded the red flags.

At the same time, toolsy players don't always translate either, even if those tools are universal, such as former Gamecock Troy Williamson.

What then, is the difference between production and tools?

I hate to sound trite, but sometimes it is a matter of how much you want it, how much you are willing to work, and how much you are willing to, "get with the program."

Success is not determined solely by either college production or by tools. It is usually a matter of a) work ethic (watching films, studying playbook), b) physical condition (weight lifting, nutrition, getting hit, etc), and c) attitude (locker room chemistry).

One reason that some players seem to be chronically hurt is that they do not follow that process, and instead they vainly try to force things that aren't there.

By holding out, Crabtree is neglecting all three of those things, while DHB is not. Typically, rookie holdouts only suffer in the long-run for the will of their agents to bamboozle the team.

JaMarcus Russell held-out and because of it, it has skewed the perspective of his chance to succeed.

Al Davis wanted J-Russ to play from day one in 2008 -- which was one (not the only) dispute that he had with Lane Kiffin, because Kiffin wanted Josh McCown to start. Eventually, Davis forced Kiffin's hand, and Kiffin went screaming all the way to Tennessee.

Occasionally, there is an exception, but I prefer to believe that guys like Terrell Owens are exceptions to the rule and that you are rolling dice with your NFL career if you are trying to be the next TO.

Keep in mind that TO also came from a dynasty program, the San Francisco 49ers, that had mentors in now Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, and future Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.

Thus, TO had a solid environment in which to learn, and a winning atmosphere in order to stay focused.  I would not want to subtract all the credit for what TO has done in his career, but you cannot deny that TO had a unique situation.

With the Raiders signing Heyward-Bey in time for training camp, while Crabtree is holding out, all I can say is, "So far, so good."  Crabtree is only reinforcing the assertion that he is a disagreeable Prima Dona.  Perhaps, Crabtree will be productive in the NFL, but so has TO.

And we'll just have to wait and see.


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