Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud

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Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud

ALAMEDA -- From the moment Marcus Allen returned to the Raiders in September to light the Al Davis memorial flame, I wondered if this more recent vintage of Raider fan realized just how big of a deal it was at the time.

After all, the Allen-Davis feud of the late 1980's and early 1990s was the dominant storyline as the team called Los Angeles home. The rookie of the year, Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP had been chained to the bench and reduced to a blocking fullback in Davis' doghouse. The eventual comeback player of the year, with Kansas City in 1993, was reduced to playing bit roles behind the likes of Bo Jackson, Greg Bell, Roger Craig and Eric Dickerson in his last seasons with the Raiders.

And while tonight's NFL Network documentary "Marcus Allen: A Football Life" covers the entirety of his football playing career, from Lincoln High School in San Diego to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1981 at USC to being the Raiders' first-round draft choice in 1982, to his finishing up in Kansas City, what is most intriguing to Raiders fans is the part that delves into the feud.

Former assistant Terry Robiskie spoke of inserting Allen into a 1989 game the Raiders trailed the Cardinals by five points and at the four-yard line late. Robiskie knew playing Allen was against Davis' wishes.

"Not to get yelled at and screamed at and fussed at, I took my headset off," Robiskie said with a laugh.

"I got a little slap on the face, saying, 'Hey, we wasn't supposed to do that. I thought we wasn't going to put him him.' But good thing we did; we won the game…those guys' battles was bigger than us."

[REWIND: Marcus Allen to light Al Davis flame]

Allen remembered the aftermath.

"Going back to the locker room...Al gave me a dirty look, which was the strangest thing in the world because you figure you want to win the game, regardless of who does it," Allen said. "But it was just another awkward situation. The animosity was pretty thick around there."

Allen also spoke of the Raiders continually bringing in those other players to take time from him.

"I don't think there's been any great running back in the league that has ever had to share the position with that many great running backs," Allen said.

"There was a time that I came into camp fourth string. I'm in the Hall of Fame, by the way, but I came into camp fourth string, I just want you to know that."

Said Robiskie: "How did he end up falling from one to fourth (on the depth chart)? Now that came from the top."

The documentary, on the heels of last week's ESPN 30-for-30 production on Bo Jackson, is clean and seamless. Allen, though, never addresses exactly why he and Davis were at loggerheads.

"(Al) felt at some point that Marcus was getting bigger than the Raiders and he had a hard time with that because it was always about the Raiders," former Raiders executive Ron Wolf said. "Whatever the split was, that caused that."

Of course, the most scandalous theory out there, and given renewed life by Murray Olderman's new book, "Just Win, Baby, The Al Davis Story," is that Davis disapproved of Allen's relationship with O.J. Simpson and his inner circle.

"I never quite understood what made things go bad," Allen said. "To me the whole thing was a waste of great talent and energy. If you don't like me, let me go. And I never understood that. Let me go play football someplace else. Now, if you love power, I can understand why you keep me there.

"I think of what could have been, the perfect marriage in Los Angeles with the Raiders. It just didn't turn out to be. And it was, it was a shame."

Others interviewed in the documentary include Allen's parents, Harold and Gwendolyn, Marty Schottenheimer, Ronnie Lott, John Robinson, Howie Long, Al Michaels, Jim Plunkett and Matt Millen.

"I spent 25 seasons with the Raiders," Wolf said. "Of all the players that ever came through during the time that I was there, somebody has to be No. 1. Marcus Allen was No. 1. He's the best player during my time with the Raiders that I've ever seen."

The story, like the documentary, played out with Allen finishing with the Chiefs. In fact, it was with the Chiefs that Allen went 9-1 against the Raiders and became the first player in NFL history with 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards.

"I never thought about getting back (at Davis and the Raiders)," Allen claimed. "Never. Never once, You've got to understand, I loved the guys that I played with and I was always conflicted in that regard.

"I don't hate the Raiders. I don't hate the helmet. I don't hate the colors. I don't hate anybody. I didn't even hate Al. We had a disagreement and life is too short to dwell on it, and you move on."

The documentary premiers at 5 p.m. PT on NFL Network.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have quality options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take an excellent spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick.

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”