Nothing could match the surreal coach-firing news conference of Lane Kiffin — when Al Davis busted out an overhead projector to graphically illustrate his contempt — but Tuesday’s media gathering at Raiders’ headquarters came close.
After playfully lulling reporters into believing the near two-hour session was all about how happy he was to promote offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to head coach, Davis once more reminded everyone he may be a wheelchair-bound old coot, but he still pounces like a puma when feeling betrayed.
Just as everyone was about to leave, Davis opened a folder and read a litany of problems he had with former coach Tom Cable.
True to form, Davis went for the jugular. Not only did he bemoan the fact that the Raiders are facing a series of lawsuits related to Cable’s alleged fight with former assistant coach Randy Hanson, plus domestic battery against an ex-wife and current spouse, Davis claims his former coach improperly traveled to road games with a former girlfriend.
So much for “focus on winning the game,” he scoffed. Davis also accused Cable of lying to him when asked before he was hired if there was anything in his past he should know about. Davis claims he took $120,000 from Cable’s paychecks in $20,000 increments to cover pending legal expenses. Vendetta? Maybe. More likely, Cable committed the ultimate sin: He didn’t win.
Not only was the Raiders boss upset that after an 8-8 season, Cable said, “No one can call the Raiders losers anymore,” but Davis pointed out that in 20 years of coaching football, Cable had only three winning seasons.
Sure, Davis treats coaches like disposable parts, but maybe this time he’s found one that will exceed the Silver and Black’s typical 18-month shelf life. Jackson, the Raiders’ sixth head coach in the last nine years, should be canonized for morphing one of the NFL’s worst attacks into the sixth-most prolific scoring offense in the league.
It’s even more amazing when you consider that Jackson was working with a marginal offensive line, an inexperienced receiving corps and a quarterback with a shaky NFL résumé in Jason Campbell.
Still, the Raiders doubled their scoring average to 25.6 points per game. But as innovative and well-respected as Jackson is around the NFL and in the Oakland locker room, he is taking over a team with no first-round pick in this year’s draft and a bunch of unrestricted free agents including Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour, Michael Bush, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery.
That said, Jackson joins a growing list of accomplished coordinators getting their first head coaching opportunities in the NFL.
Not only has that been the path of all four coaches in this weekend’s conference championship games (Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, New York Jets’ Rex Ryan, Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy and Chicago Bears’ Lovie Smith), 25 of the 32 teams in the league are led by men who are in their first head coaching jobs. Memo to Jackson: Clear every move you make with Al and “Just Win Baby.”
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.