Ratto: Davis turns Jackson hire into Cable-bashing


Ratto: Davis turns Jackson hire into Cable-bashing

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Watch the Raiders press conference in its entirety at 10 p.m. Tuesday on CSNCalifornia.
Ray Ratto

So who got that Raider job anyway?

I mean, one minute, Hue Jackson is looking and sounding like the new head coach in Oakland, and the next, Tom Cable is being hauled out for one more comprehensive kneecapping from Al Davis.

Comprehensive, and maybe even a hair vindictive, too.

Jackson was the story of Davis latest presser, at least early on. The hard-working assistant finally getting his chance, fixing the Oakland offense and producing almost enough points last year to satisfying the owners scoring requirements.

And then it all went off the rails . . . that is, if you thought introducing Hue Jackson was the point of the gathering.

Davis had something to say about why Cable got fired. In fact, he had a lot to say, so much in fact that when Cable was announced as the Seahawks new assistant head coach and offensive line coach, you could only laugh at the surreal juxtaposition of events.

NEWS: Seahawks hire ex-Raiders coach Cable

Then again, thats the real beauty of the Raiders at times like this. They never get the timing right.

If Davis was offended by Cable laying out assistant coach Randy Hansen, he should have fired him 18 months ago. If he was outraged by the accusations of spousal abuse, he should have fired him when he first learned of it. If he was scandalized by Cable bringing women not currently his wife on road trips for night-before-the-game sances, he should have fired him then. If he was satisfied with emasculating him last January by stripping him of play-calling duties, he should have fired him then.

And he should have explained his reasons when he fired Cable 48 hours after the season ended, or had someone who is good at making the Raiders case to the public do it for him.

Oh, and he should have shut up about the imports altogether. That was just gratuitous.

Instead, he shoehorned his expressions of anger over Cable in with Jacksons big day, and as a result made the new coach disappear.

This is what happens when you pop your head out every two years or so -- he hadnt done a presser since the Richard Seymour trade two Septembers ago. You want to cover too much, and something is sacrificed, in this case the coach who is supposed to save your keister.

This is what happens when you dont want to explain yourself. When you do, you have to cover too much ground.

And this is what happens when you keep a coach way past the day when you cant stand him any more. When you do, the reasons why you didnt fire him look worse and worse, and then finally you go over the top.

In short, Al was too late again. He should canned Cable when he first decided he could no longer abide him, for whatever reason happened to set him off.

And he waited too long to explain it, wedging the relevant and the irrelevant in a massive hodgepodge of legal, moral and football issues that well need a team of forensic speech experts to sort out completely.

Ultimately, he kept Cable around because he didnt know Jackson well enough last winter. He kept Cable around because he didnt want to have to pay off Cable and a replacement offensive line coach. And he kept him around until he was sure the season was lost.

In short, Randy Hansen and the spousal abuse issues explained the 120,000 in fines, but not the firing. The firing came, at least in Als mind, when Jackson was hired. The absolute drop-dead firing date was when they blew the Miami game.
REWIND: Napa DA's statement on Cable-Hansen investigation

But the part about the women on the road clearly came the day Cable decided to say, Were not losers any more. Thats when Al decided that no holds would barred in dismembering the former coach.

Its why he brought up the fact that Cable has been a coach on three winning teams in his entire coaching career. Its why he brought up the pregame sleepovers. Al was mad that Cable decided to take his parting shot, so much so that he decided to strike back the most aggressive way he knew how.

The over-the-top way.

Davis had enough good reasons to fire Cable for the past 18 months, but didnt do it for 32 games. He had three weeks to explain it when he did fire him. Instead, he decided to handle the Cable matter on the day that he was introducing his replacement, and he threw in so many extraneous issues that the presser became Al justifying himself . . . strangely while blaming himself for doing a lousy job of background checks on his employees.

At least we think he was blaming himself. He might have just blurted out an answer to silence a noisome questioner.

And then he did another 20 minutes after that on other issues, as he usually does at these events, which reminded everyone yet again of why they were all gathered there in Alameda.

To meet the new coach . . . Old Whatisname . . . the guy who sat next to Al when he was clipping Cable . . . the guy who fixed Jason Campbell . . . yeah, Hue Jackson. Thats the guy.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.