Dickey: Media coverage not biggest problem for Niners, Raiders

Bay Area football teams haven’t learned a basic lesson: Games are won on the field, not in the newspapers or on TV.

The 49ers are the latest to make a silly move, demanding that KPIX’s Dennis O’Donnell, the hardest-working and most respected TV sports reporter in the Bay Area, no longer interview coach Mike Singletary for the station’s “49ers Report,” which airs on Saturday night. O’Donnell will remain as host of the show, but Kim Coyle will do the Singletary interview.

Singletary was angered last week when O’Donnell asked him about a Yahoo Sports column on the communication problems in getting plays in to quarterback Alex Smith in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks. O’Donnell’s questions were not unusual nor particularly aggressive, but Singletary was irritated because he’d been asked so many questions on the subject.

Well, guess what? That’s part of the job description, answering tough questions. In this case, Singletary was especially culpable because this problem had existed during the previous season. He had the offseason, training camp and exhibition games to correct the problem, and he didn’t.

The poor communication was a big part of the problem when the 49ers got demolished in the opener. Did he think he could just gloss over that?

The 49ers are usually better at handling this kind of thing than the Raiders, who may be the worst in professional sports at working with the media. As with everything Raiders, it starts at the top. Al Davis has been paranoid about the media since he first came to the Raiders in 1963 and, as everybody knows, bad character traits only get worse as a person ages.

The Raiders’ alleged public relations director is in place mainly to make calls when Davis is offended by what’s written in a newspaper or said on the air, which is frequently. They gave up on that with me a few years ago when they finally realized it wasn’t working, but it doesn’t work with anybody else, either.

Often, the Raiders make a pre-emptive strike. When the news broke about former quarterback JaMarcus Russell holding drug parties at his home, the Raiders immediately issued a release attacking the media for suggesting that they weren’t monitoring Russell’s behavior with the Raiders — before anybody had even leveled that accusation.

Any columnist who has ever criticized the Raiders — that’s every Bay Area columnist — is excluded from their media e-mail list.

The week before the Bay Area teams play each other, the 49ers will post Raiders releases on their large media e-mail list.

Those are full of the “Team of the Decades” nonsense and make me very glad I don’t get them normally.

This year, the Raiders only allow media to watch the first 20 minutes of practice, and interviews of assistant coaches are supposed to be off-limits.

The 49ers are much more open at practices, and make offensive and defensive coordinators available for group interviews, but this year, they’ve shut off access to the coordinators after games.

This ultimately hurts the fans because the media is the conduit for information on the team. But neither the 49ers nor the Raiders seem to have learned that games are won on the field. Don’t kill the messenger.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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