The situation is beyond desperate for the Raiders, but it could be salvaged with one move: Bring in John Madden as a supervisor to hire competent NFL people for the front office and a coach who uses systems that work now instead of the 1969 systems Al Davis prefers.
The Raiders are plumbing depths they haven’t known since the pre-Davis era of 1961, when they opened with consecutive losses of 55-0 and 44-0. Measuring them in average points, first downs and total offense, they rank fourth among the worst offenses since the 1970 merger.
“Just felt we would be so much better at that [scoring],” coach Tom Cable said. No kidding.
It’s not likely to get any better against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum on Sunday because the players have obviously checked out on Cable, who is Davis’ puppet.
The fans are rebelling, though there are still some true believers. I got an e-mail from one last week proclaiming that “AL DAVIS IS GOD!!” after a few expletives deleted, which is the only way these cretins can express themselves.
More rational fans are heating up the message boards with criticism — and calls for a boycott of Sunday’s game, reasoning that, if Davis is hit in the pocket book, maybe he’ll finally listen to reason. Attendance figures to be low, anyway.
For the Denver game, when the Raiders were theoretically battling for the lead in the AFC West, I estimated there were only 40,000-45,000 fans. The last two seasons, the Raiders have been buying up tickets to have games officially sold out and available on home TV (as the 49ers have for a longer time), but there were too many unsold tickets for that game to buy them up. Sunday’s game against the Eagles will also be blacked out.
Now, they’ve played three clunkers in a row. Two of them have been on the road, so they could be watched on TV by local fans — the Kansas City game, which they won in spite of themselves, and the blowout by the New York Giants last Sunday. I can’t imagine many Raiders fans kept watching the Giants game, which was decided by the end of the first quarter, and it certainly doesn’t provide an incentive for fans to come to the Eagles game, even without an official boycott.
Clearly, drastic action has to be taken. It could be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepping in, declaring the Raiders a natural disaster and putting a caretaker in charge of the franchise. There is a precedent in baseball for a commissioner to do that, with Marge Schott when she owned the Cincinnati Reds.
It would be far better if Davis were to do that himself, by bringing in Madden and giving him real power. Madden wouldn’t have to do the day-to-day work, just hire men to do it right. After all, Davis said after last season that he’d be bringing in somebody from the NFL, which he hasn’t done.
This would be perfect for Madden and the Raiders. Obviously, he has a connection to the team and he’s stayed friends with Davis since he left coaching after the 1978 season. He quit broadcasting because he was tired of the travel, but he lives in Pleasanton, not far from Raiders headquarters in Alameda. He has extensive contacts in the NFL, and the respect and affection of all of them.
It’s your move, Al.