As the House of Usher that is the Oakland Raiders continues to crumble from within, we occasionally get a little peek at the madness. Al Davis is surrounded by yes men and women who continue to tell him how great and right on track he is. They also tell him he doesn't need advice from his former players, so they can continue to have his ear. They keep him walled in, paranoid of the intentions of those outside Raider headquarters.
Former Raider quarterback, and 2002 MVP, Rich Gannon recently reached out to Al Davis to offer his help in tutoring JaMarcus Russell. Gannon wasn't the most talented QB and had the opposite career path from Russell. As Gannon went through the workout process before being drafted, a few teams wanted to convert him to defensive back.
Gannon had to make himself a good QB through film study, fine tuning his technique, and understanding a game plan. He had to learn everything he could from his team's other QBs and the coaching staff.
The Raiders responded to Gannon's offer through team executive John Herrera. From the Oakland Tribune :
"It's Rich that needs the help," Raiders senior executive John Herrera said. "When he goes on a radio show offering Mr. Davis help, Tom Cable help, the Raiders help, maybe it's Rich that needs the help."
What the hell does that even mean? That doesn't even fit as a response. It's like in Dodgeball when Ben Stiller's character responds with "touche" at a completely inappropriate time. Sounds like John Herrera basically just said, "I know you are, but what am I?" or "I'm not a towel, you're a towel." Are they trying to say he's desperate for work?
So this is how you treat the last QB to take you to the playoffs? In previous verbal spats through the media with Rich Gannon, Herrera and the Raiders have said, "He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself. I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.”
That was back in late September when the Raiders tried to get him banned from the facility. They felt his criticism of the Raiders was out of spite rather than concern.
But you know what? Gannon should blame the Raiders and Al Davis for his poor performance in the Super Bowl. He had to face his old coach, who knew everything Gannon was going to do, and who Davis traded away less than a year earlier after Gruden refused to sign the contract Davis altered.
According to Jerry McDonald, Gruden and his agent were ready to sign a new three-year extension (all the negotiating was done) but it was obvious Davis had made changes to it at the last minute when they received the final version. The compromise was supposed to be that Davis would control the draft and free agency while getting Gruden's input, and Gruden would control the final 53-man roster, his coaching staff and get about $3.5 mil per year.
In the final draft, Davis had taken back the control of the final 53-man roster and the coaching staff, and had back loaded a large chunk of the money. And that began the end of his relationship with Gruden. And although Gruden's assistant Bill Callahan would take the Raiders to the Super Bowl with Gruden's players and game plan, that renege by Davis would truly begin the decline the Raiders are still in.
And thus the House of Usher/Davis continues to crumble.
"But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate;
Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed. " -- Edgar Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher