Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

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Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

For the last few years of his life, Al Davis hinted he was on the cusp of hiring a football operations person to help him through the daily grind of putting a competitive team together.It never happened.No doubt it's a taxing business but even as his health was failing, Davis ran the Raiders as a one-man show. So when he passed away Saturday morning at the age of 82, a seeming power vacuum atop the franchise opened up. The team purportedly goes to his wife Carol and his son Mark, who has been a much more visible figure around the Raiders in recent years, but it is not known yet just how the succession of football responsibilities will play out.RATTO: With Davis gone, Raiders enter lengthy 'interim' stage
Is first-year coach Hue Jackson the acting general manager? If not, to whom does he answer in football matters?

What about John Herrera, Davis' right-hand man and relative mood ring, who is more of a business-side figure than a football guy having worked for Davis since he was 16 years old?Big, sexy names sure to pop up will include the likes of Bill Parcells. And while Tuna would be a hefty catch, landing him would also be a major shock to the system. Then there's Ron Wolf, who helped build the Raiders in the glory days before rebuilding Green Bay.Davis was all about keeping things in the family, so to speak, so with that in mind, we present five intriguing potential G.M.Director of Football OperationsFootball Czar candidates who either bleed Silver and Black, have G.M.-type experience andor bring an exuberance that Davis would appreciateJOHN MADDENSilver and Black -- The first Raiders coach to win a Super Bowl, Madden was a trusted Davis confidante for decades. In fact, Madden was long rumored to be the logical choice as a Raiders football czar, so to speak. He popped up at training camp in Napa in recent years and watched practice with Davis in his golf cart. The Hall of Famer is an icon in the game and today's generation of player would instantly know him from the video game bearing his name. Who's going to try and get one over on Madden, really? Silver and Blecch -- Madden, though, is 75 years old and if he burned out from the daily grind of coaching during the Carter Administration, would he really want to deal with the nuts and bolts of contracts and hiring and firing folks in the Internet Age? Plus, while he was a constant around the game with his broadcasting role, just how in touch would he be with today's game? He seems better suited for an advisory role.JON GRUDENSilver and Black -- A seeming no-brainer, if he'd want to do it. "Chucky" would take the energy Jackson has infused within Raider Nation and pierce a hole through the ozone with it. That Jackson and Gruden already have a history with each other and respect for each other would be a bonus. And here's a secret: Gruden is still cherished by many influential Raiders figures as the "secret" party held for him at a certain East Bay sports bar a few years back and attended by just about everyone in the organization, aside from Davis himself, attests. Pictures from the event were taken down from the establishment's Web Site, lest they upset and offend Davis. Gruden is only 48 and has been out of the daily grind since 2008, so even though he's been visible with his TV work, he might be ready for the challenge.Silver and Blecch -- He's already been in Silver and Blackdom, done that. He has a high-profile, high-paying gig with ESPN that basically allows him to create his own schedule, or at least, not have to work a 23 12 hours a day, as he did when he was the Raiders' coach. And for as much as can be made about the relationship between "Chucky and Hue," Jackson just might get a tad uncomfortable with such another dynamic personality and beloved-by-the-fans face. And Gruden's name always comes up when a high-profie college gig opens.MATT MILLENSilver and Black -- A Raider through and through, Millen's toughness is what Davis believed every one of his players should exude. And he has President and CEO experience, having already run the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Lions from 2001 to 2008. Being out of the inner workings of the game for only three years could actually serve as a positive in that Millen might be hungry to get back into running a franchise. And with his history with the Raiders, he'd be invested spiritually, so to speak.Silver and Blecch -- Yeah, he has history as a GM, but it was with the Lions. And they were just 31-97 under his watch, counting only three games of an especially wretched 0-16 campaign in 2008, in which he was fired a month into the season. A myriad of confounding roster moves and, well, losing was his undoing in the Motor City. Many critics say the Lions' feel-good resurgence this season is in spite of Millen, not because of any path he began to blaze.BRUCE ALLENSilver and Black -- He oversaw the Raiders' most recent successful run, working hand in hand with Gruden. But philosophical differences with Davis led to his departure, and the Raiders have been craving his brand of wisdom ever since. He's remained plugged into the NFL since leaving Oakland and he's Washington's general manager now. So there would be little, if any, adjustment period for him in dealing with current executives. He could hit the ground running.Silver and Blecch -- Loyalty was key to Davis. Break a certain trust and you were basically done, in his eyes. Does that line of thinking extend to the rest of his family? Because after Allen left the Raiders he joined Gruden in Tampa Bay, a perceived slap to Davis if ever there was one. Then he went to Washington and joined forces with, gulp, Mike Shanahan, who was no doubt on the late Davis' figurative enemies of the Raider Nation list. There just might be some lingering resentment within the walls of Silver and Blackdom.TOM FLORESSilver and Black -- The understated yet stately Flores is the only coach in Raiders history to win two Super Bowls. He's already on the team payroll working in Oakland's radio booth. And, oh yeah, he has experience as a G.M. with Seattle in the early 1990s. The first quarterback in franchise history would command respect in any NFL board room he entered and he was also a favorite of the Davis family.Silver and Blecch -- Like Millen, Flores did not exactly set the world on fire as a G.M.. Dan McGwire, anyone? Rick Mirer? And, like Madden, he's older, at 74, and probably does not want to deal with the cutthroat world of trades, signings and scouting. He's better suited as an advisor, of sorts. In fact, he should be preparing his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech, not contemplating running the Raiders' football operations. But that's another story for another day.

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

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AP

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.