While We're Dreaming...
The Oakland Raiders have a myriad of issues within the organization. Some say it's all Al Davis' fault, others say it's due to the media portraying the team as dysfunctional. Whatever the case, things have not been going in the right direction lately.
Questionable first round draft choices, a continuous coaching carousel, and the inability to attract high profile free agents and coaches have all contributed to the downfall of this once great franchise.
All of these issues have led to losing. Losing is something Raider fans just can't stomach anymore.
So, what's the solution?
In a 2008 interview, Al Davis suggested that he was considering hiring "Someone to help with the football decisions." So, what happened to that? He hasn't hired anyone, and the team has continued to struggle.
We all know Davis well enough to know that if really wanted to do that, it would have been done already. So, what's the hold up? Was he just saying what he thought fans wanted to hear, or is he still looking for the right man for the job?
I think I have the right guy in mind.
Hiring Tony Dungy as general manager, president of football operations, or head of personnel and player development would be the coup of the century. He has the respect of league officials, the players, and every fan in every stadium.
Dungy was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1977. He played defensive back only three years for the Steelers and 49ers. His playing career was not stellar, but that wasn't his destiny anyway. He was born to coach.
After several years as an assistant and defensive backs coach, Dungy was given a well-deserved shot at a head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tony took the perennial losers of the NFC central and turned them into a consistent playoff team.
After three playoff appearances, a division title, and a trip to the NFC championship game, Dungy was let go. The Buccaneers' loss became the Indianapolis Colts' gain. A lot of "experts" questioned Bill Polian's decision, but Bill knew what he was doing. He was building an NFL powerhouse.
Dungy took the Colts to the playoffs all seven years he led the team. That run included an NFL record of six consecutive seasons with 12 or more wins, six division titles, and a Super Bowl championship after the 2006 season.
Tony did more than coach the team to success. He put in place a system that left the team better off than how he found it. He coached his last game in the 2008 Wild Card game; a tough loss to the San Diego Chargers. Jim Caldwell took over and has reaped the benefits of Dungy's system.
The rigors and demands of coaching an NFL team, combined with the stress of losing his son to suicide in 2005, contributed to his decision to step away from the game. However, he didn't leave the game all together. He stayed in close proximity of the NFL as an analyst for Sunday night football on NBC.
When Michael Vick was released from prison on May 21, 2009, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came to call on Dungy. He asked Tony to serve as a mentor to the troubled quarterback. It turned out to be a great decision for Vick and the league.
Under Dungy's tutelage, Vick restored his standing with the league, was reinstated, and got picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick has repeatedly given credit to Tony Dungy for his second chance, and rightfully so.
The most impressive thing about Tony Dungy is his ability to express himself without yelling or using profanity, and the incredibly moral way in which he conducts his life. There is no player, coach, or owner in the league that doesn't absolutely love and respect this man.
This is the kind of respect the Raiders have lacked for years.
In 2002, the Buccaneers took a lot of the players that were drafted by Dungy and won the Super Bowl against the Raiders. In 2009, the Colts, led by rookie head coach Jim Caldwell, started 14-0 on their way to a Super Bowl appearance...with Tony's system and players still in place.
If he is capable of turning the lowly doormat Buccaneers into a winner, why wouldn't he be able to do the same for the Raiders? I say he can. High profile players and coaches would be more inclined to come Oakland. Better free agents and coaches are an important step on the road restoration.
All of this leads me to conclude that if Al Davis were so inclined (as he said he was), Tony Dungy was willing, and the money was right, Tony Dungy would be the perfect man to lead the Raiders out of the cellar and back to respectability.
Of course, this idea hinges on two critical points. Was Al Davis serious about wanting to hire some help to run the team? And...would Tony Dungy be willing to take on a daunting challenge like this?
Only Davis and Dungy know the answers.
We all know that this is just fantasy, but what do you say Raider Nation? Would Tony Dungy be a good hire for the Raiders? Is this something you, as fans, could get behind?
Let me hear you.