I won’t lie to you, heading into yesterday’s press conference I was ready to damn Al. I am sick and tired of the revolving door of Raider head coaches. I wish my team had a clear vision for what they are trying to do. Would set a plan and stick to it. I had seen enough of Kiffin so far to say “lets give the kid a little more time and see if he can develop.”
Then I listen to Al as I drove home from work as he laid it all out there. Almost every rumor that we have been subjected to over the past year and a half was addressed. Now I may not take everything Al said at face value, but what he said struck me as being closer to the truth than the reports that we have gotten. I have to face it, when Al speaks, I listen.
So lets break it down.
Al confirmed that there was dissention over the #1 pick in the 2007 draft. This is no surprise, there should be a healthy amount of debate over any pick, let alone one that will receive that much money. As long as both parties agree to disagree and move on this shouldn’t be a problem.
Al confirmed that there was interest in Lane from Arkansas. Now I will leave it up for debate whether or not Lane was interested in them, and if he was upset that he didn’t get the job. Someone at Arkansas contacting Al, does not mean that Lane put his hat into the ring.
Al corrected the whole resignation letter issue from this past off-season. I never put much stock into Mort’s report that Al tried to have Lane resign, the story didn’t pass the smell test. Al and Lane’s lawyers coming up with language to terminate Lane’s contract in the case that Lane wanted to take another job, that jives with me.
Al confirmed that Lane wanted to fire Rob Ryan. Once again, the way Al claims this went down makes perfect sense to me. Lane wanted to bring in his father and the Tampa-2. Not making this move makes sense from a player personnel and contract standpoint. This should have been back burnered until this coming off-season when the elder Kiffin would have been out of his contract.
Al read his letter to Lane. I have written many letters of default, I recognize one when I see it. This was a bad example of writing one, but there is no doubt about what Al was trying to do. This was Lane’s last warning. Frankly too much has been put into this letter by Raider fans. This is not “proof” of any wrong doing by Lane, it is not proof that Lane wanted any of the players mentioned in the letter. A well-written letter of default would have sited chapter and verse the clauses in the contract violated, and how they were violated. This was an emotional warning letter from Al. If I ever sent out a letter like this I would have some serious questions to answer from my superiors.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I supported Kiffin fully this off-season until he called out Ryan in the media. At that point I felt that he had gone too far. I hoped that everything could still be mended, for the good of the team, but apparently that was the last straw for Al. Sure Al’s letter said that Lane could have rectified the situation, but any misstep, no matter how small would have meant the end of the Kiffin era.
Here is the thing, when Al laid it all out on the table, I came to agree that it was time to fire Kiffin. It was clear that the working environment had deteriorated beyond repair. Why, through the actions of Lane Kiffin. The constant blabbing and leaking of information to the media could only have come from one source, Lane Kiffin.
All day I have heard about what a piece of garbage Al is for handling the press conference the way that he did. For airing the Raider’s dirty laundry in the media. The laundry was already out there, it had been hung by young Lane over the course of the last year. All Al did was put the Raider’s spin on it. For Lane to go on Sirius NFL radio and say he wouldn’t stoop to Al’s level was laughable, Lane dragged him down into the mud, Al just finally slung back.
There are times that I hate what the Raiders have become. I hate how they cannot put a competent team on the field the last 5 years. I hate how there is seemingly no coherent plan to build this team back up. I hate the lack of consistency in coaching. I hate how my team has become a laughing stock. And in the end all of these things trace back to the actions of one person, Al Davis. But for one day yesterday, I was back in Al’s camp. The old man still has it.