Spander: Show us a commitment to excellence, Mr. Davis

Send us a sign, Al. Give us a word, Al. Tell us “pride and poise” still has meaning, there truly is a commitment to excellence. That the Raiders — your franchise, Al Davis — is more than a punch line from Keith Olbermann.

Tell us you’re still in control, Al, that you’re distressed with the way the Raiders have played, embarrassed by what’s happened with your head coach, frustrated by the performance of your quarterback.

You’re a Hall of Famer, Al. You were responsible for the Raiders becoming champions, and responsible for the merger of the AFL and NFL — at least in part.

You saved the career of Jim Plunkett, extended the career of George Blanda. Your team won a Super Bowl years before the 49ers did.

Now the Raiders are a joke. Literally. Now, alluding to the contretemps up in Napa and the rout by Houston, Keith Olbermann goes on NBC and cracks, “Coach Tom Cable wouldn’t be blamed for thinking prison might be a good option.”

The Raiders have fallen into a black hole. Will they ever be extricated? If they couldn’t beat the Texans, how can they beat the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles? Or anyone?

What do you think of people taking shots at your team? Of your ex-QB Rich Gannon saying current QB JaMarcus Russell doesn’t have a clue? Of your almost backup QB, Jeff Garcia, trashing Russell and others with whom Jeff spent training camp?

Do you have the wrong personnel? The wrong philosophy? Is the style that worked so well in the 1970s and ’80s outdated? Or have the seasons of losing had such a negative effect that it doesn’t matter who the players are or what the system is?

JaMarcus keeps throwing balls over people’s heads and says, “I guess I must play better.” Darren McFadden gets injured. And then Tom Cable is investigated because of an alleged attack on one of his assistant coaches. Can it get any worse?

What’s going on in the executive suite? Are you irate? Are you resigned? Do you wonder what happened to the Mad Stork and John Vella? Do you wonder what happened to the good old days?

Wasn’t this the season everything would get better? The season JaMarcus matured? The defensive line would shut down the run? That you had answers to most of the questions?

You used to kid that the pro football draft was a kind of sporting socialism, that it helped the poor while penalizing the strong, and since the Raiders were among the strong it never was to their benefit. Now you’re among the downtrodden, always selecting high, as high as the very first pick when you took JaMarcus, yet it still hasn’t helped.

Will anything help? You’ve had five coaches in seven seasons. You’ve had 25 wins in seven seasons. The Raiders used to win 25 games in two seasons. The Raiders used to win division titles. The Raiders used to win respect.

Remember when people feared the Raiders, Al? Now they dismiss them with a sneer, with an off-handed remark by Keith Olbermann. Did it burn? Tell us, Al.

And then tell us when the agony is going to end. If it ever is going to end.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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