Raiders notes: Game ball goes to Al Davis


Raiders notes: Game ball goes to Al Davis

CSNCalifornia.comDENVER -- A red-eyed Hue Jackson approached the post-game dais with a pair of footballs under his arms.The Raiders' rookie head coach had just won his first regular season game, 23-20 over the Denver Broncos, and Jackson had gifts to give. Actually, game balls to re-gift, so to speak, after he was given a game ball by the team.
"My players are awesome but I want everybody to know one of my biggest speeches at the end of the game is that it's not about Hue Jackson at all," Jackson said. "This is about the Raiders organization and the man that leads this organization -- Al Davis. Al Davis has entrusted me with this football team and I'm not taking this game ball. I'm giving this game ball to him because what this is truly all about is a man who is an icon in this game who has given me an opportunity to run this team."And at the end of the day, all I want to do is win for him and that's what these players want to do. To me, this is his game. We haven't won on Monday night and that's well documented, but we got that broken tonight."Jackson also had another game ball to present, to the Raiders' chief executive."I know Amy Trask is in this audience, and she deserves it too," Jackson said. "I mean, there have been a lot of years of Monday night (losses). But tonight, we got that monkey off our back and I truly believe that there are great things to come for this football team."Record night for kickers: Sebastian Janikowski tied the NFL record for longest field goal with his 63-yarder to end the first half, equaling the feat accomplished by Tom Dempsey in 1970 and Jason Elam in 1998.And Shane Lechler had a 77-yard punt, equaling the team mark set by Wayne Crow in 1961."What Sebastian did was unheard of," Jackson said. "But I think we have two of the best kickers in the league. I trust those guys. I truly believe in them."Janikowski's previous long was a 61-yard field goal in Cleveland in 2009. But he hit a 70-yarder in pregame warmups."Coach knew about it," said Janikowski, who came into the NFL with Lechler in 2000."I'm not big on setting goals, but I wanted to be 10 years in the league, break the record or tie the record and win the Super Bowl. Those were my three goals. So I've got two out of three. Hopefully this year I get the third one."DHB steps up: So guess who was quarterback Jason Campbell's most dependable receiver? The much-maligned Darrius Heyward-Bey, who caught four passes for 44 yards. But it was when he caught them and the chunks that came with them that mattered most.He had a 14-yard reception on a 3rd and 8 as well as a 15-yard pickup on a 1st and 10 and a 10-yard gain on a 2nd and 9 on the game's final clock-killing drive."I felt good out there, Jason was looking for me, made some plays," Heyward-Bey said. "Just felt comfortable out there."So how much more comfortable does he feel now as opposed to last year?"You mean two years ago?" he asked with an impish grin. Sure, two years ago."A thousand times," he said. "Yeah, definitely. Just the mentality. I've always gone to work with a purpose. That's never been an issue, but it's always good when it transitions over from practice to a game."Just keep my eye on the ball and make plays. That's what Jason needs me to do." Raiders are streaking: While Oakland ended an eight-game streak of losing its season openers, the Raiders also won their eighth straight game against the AFC West, dating back to 2009. Four of those victories are against the Broncos, with three coming in Denver. Oakland also ended its 11-game losing streak in primetime games.Statistical anomaly -- The Raiders had more penalty yards (131, on 15 penalties), than they had yards passing (105, on 13 completions).Ford, Huff injured -- Jacoby Ford left the game in the second half with what was described as a hamstring strain and never returned. Huff, meanwhile, left the game but returned for a play before leaving again with an undisclosed ailment.What, no Hagan? -- Wondering why receiver Derek Hagan, the Raiders' most productive receiver in the preseason with 12 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown was not activated?"Because I decided not to activate him," Jackson said. "He was down for a couple days, and when it's all said and done, I'm going to put healthy guys out there. That's just the way it is. I get to make that choice and that decision and that's what I decided to do."Hagan was nursing a calf injury but was "full-go" in practices Thursday, Friday and Saturday and was listed as "probable" heading into the game.

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

The Raiders were clearly frustrated by Thursday night’s proceedings. A pivotal game against Kansas City didn’t go as planned, moving the Chiefs ahead in the AFC West with three games to play.

Few thought the Raiders would be able to win a game played two time zones away, in the bitter cold, on a short week. Players and coaches certainly did. They left Kansas City believing they could’ve and should’ve won.

Tackle Donald Penn wasn’t thrilled following this missed opportunity, and articulated how the entire team felt.

“My mindset is that I’m pissed right now,” Penn said. “I’m pissed. We had control and we gave it to somebody else.”

Records are now even at 10-3, but Kansas City has a tiebreaker in hand following a season sweep. The Raiders dropped into the wild-card pool and are currently the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

Those facts would only matter if the season ended today. It, you know, doesn’t. That makes the where-are-they-now exercise purely academic, with time for things to change.

“We will continue working,” running back Latavius Murray said. “Like Coach (Del Rio), ‘What we want in our goals and what we’re after, those things are still out there for us.’ We won’t let this determine who we are and what we want to accomplish."

Kansas City can win the division by winning out. They have home games against Tennessee and Denver before wrapping the season at San Diego, teams with a combined 19-17 record and two pushing for the playoffs.

The Raiders have a tough slate ahead, with a game at San Diego, home against Indianapolis and at Denver to end the year. That trio has an identical record to K.C.’s slate, with two common opponents.

So, with that in mind, the Raiders-Chiefs competition will continue through season’s end. How each team fares will determine the AFC West, although Denver shouldn’t be counted out quite yet.

That should make for a fantastic finish in a talented division that should qualify at least two teams for the postseason.

That also means the Raiders and Chiefs might meet again in the rivalry that will define the season for both teams.

“I feel pretty confident that both of our teams will end up in the playoffs,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There are still three games to be played. We’ll see how it ends up. They have the leg up right now, and did enough to win both games this year. For now, that’s all there is to the story. They’ve earned that. We’ll just have to get back on the right track next week.”

The Raiders may be down, but they definitely aren’t out of the division race. Thursday’s game was heavily hyped and rightfully so, but losing wasn’t a death sentence. A strong response could claim the division title or, at the very least, provide positive momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Raiders and Chiefs could meet again in January, when it truly matters most.

“There is a potential to play again,” quarterback Derek Carr said, “which is awesome.”

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Editor's Note: The above video is from Nov. 6, 2016.

As we consider with the distance and clarity of the new day the latest developments from the City of Oakland in the attempt to attract the Raiders to stay where they are, we are reminded of one very important thing.

The Raiders STILL aren’t a part of these talks. Haven’t been, don’t want to be, and unless put in a bind won’t consider it.

In other words, what we have here is a deal between a city and a developer to buy land and build something FOR NO INTERESTED TENANT. Why this has escaped most people is an amazement, but there we are.

So I am now willing to predict a third potential outcome for this slow-motion train to nowhere: The league kicks the can down the road, putting off making a decision on the fate of the Raiders until one of these deals gets sweetened to its liking.

Now, back to the hilarious present.

The only intriguing thing about this new term sheet between the City of Oakland (throw-weight, $200 million) and the Ronnie Lott-fronted Fortress group (throw-weight: $175 million for the land as a starter) is that it exists at all.

But it isn’t a deal that seems to be attracting much notice from the NFL, the Raiders, or really anyone else. It is Empty Gesture Theatre, and frankly, it probably shouldn’t be anything more than that. Cities have been screwed into near-bankruptcy pandering to sports teams for decades, and both Oakland and Nevada deserve better -- though people don't often recognize what they deserve.

Now let’s reiterate the problems here:

The Raiders desperately want to leave. Mark Davis believes his best chance at future glory is in Nevada, and nobody has been able to shift him off that position, even though he has apparently been told as recently as two weeks ago that he does not yet have the 24 votes from his fellow owners at present.

Oakland has neither the money nor the political will to make a proposal that will dazzle the Raiders into staying. Mayor Libby Schaaf has committed the city to $200 million in infrastructure costs and no more, and part of the time-honored stadium soak is that a city throws in a lot more money, either through bond issues, tax increases, free land or a deal with the concrete guy. That cities shouldn’t even be in this business has dawned on Schaaf, and she really wants out of this deal is a regular tenant who will see to it that the taxes are paid in regular installments.

The NFL is frustrated that Oakland isn’t playing the city’s traditional role as a sucker. It doesn’t much like the Fortress people, either, which is still slightly more benign than its view of Las Vegas Casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who is still a linchpin of the Vegas deal even though he threatens to leave.

In short, Oakland provided no particular reason to have the owners look more kindly upon it, at a time when they want a reason to reject Vegas on market-size grounds. It is in many ways the Carson-v.-Inglewood fight of 11 months ago, in which the league’s owners had to decide on the site they liked (Inglewood and Rams owner Stan Kroenke) against the guy they liked (San Diego Changers owner Dean Spanos).

They voted the money, as you knew they would. The Rams are building in Inglewood, and apparently will joined, albeit with great reluctance, by the Chargers, who were rejected with great vigor by the voting citizens of San Diego last month.

Now in this scenario, the Vegas deal is the one with the short-term money but the long-term danger signs, while the Oakland deal has the market size but not the money or the will. And in the Oakland deal, the league doesn’t have direct leverage over Davis to modify his level of franchise control, which it very much wants to happen sooner rather than later.

So the other 31 owners can either accept one deal they don't like, another deal they don’t like, or give it another year in hopes that some deus ex machina will appear and make the decision for them. Typically the NFL at its most powerful had the outcome cemented ahead of time and just acted, but this is not the NFL of 20 years ago. It has been reactive throughout, letting events come to it, in exchange for which it now has two unappealing options with which to deal.

So I would expect the NFL to consider its options and delay a decision yet again. It wants neither Adelson, Fortress, the Oakland plan or the Vegas market, so it is most likely, barring some radical change in the current equation, to wait for a more clement time to strong-arm its desired conclusion upon everyone.

In the true spirit of NFL Christmas: Ho ho ho, and hands up, suckers.