Monday, September 15, 2008

Al Leave Kiffin "IN"

by Rick Richardson

Let me preface this story with acknowledgement that I haven’t always agreed with Lane Kiffin. For that matter, I don’t always agree with Al Davis. It is very apparent in recent weeks that Davis and Kiffin are not on the same page either. The soap opera that is unfolding before our eyes has brought me to the realization that Al Davis, Lane Kiffin, and the Raiders need each other.

For Al, it is becoming too late for the annual retread search. I’ve looked, and there is no one out there that wants to deal with the daily paranoia, whether real or perceived, that comes along with the Raider's gig. Let’s face it, with each hiring and subsequent firing, the Raiders are starting to look more and more like North Korea, with Al being the “Dear Leader”. Please Al, make no mistake about it, you are the face of the Raiders. Anyone who denies that has either became a fan just recently, or is in the shallow end of the pool when it comes to their depth of Raider knowledge. Al has brought in players like no other owner. His desire to “just win baby”, has created the Raider mystique. The fact that he is in the Hall of Fame despite media resentment is a testament to what he has meant to the Raiders and pro football.

As for Kiffin, it seems the past few weeks have been about burning down the bridge that he is standing on. While there are plenty of Raider hater sympathizers out there ready to bring him in and wipe away his tears, there are just as many that think he is repaying the Raiders willingness to give him an opportunity by bemoaning his poor fate like someone who has severed all ties with reality. Think about it. Lane Kiffin was tagging along the day he won the lottery and became the coach of the Raiders.

The bottom line though is under Kiffin there seems to be a real grooming of Jamarcus Russell. Can you imagine him being thrown to the wolves in the bed and breakfast offense of only a couple years back? Monday night’s debacle was just that, one of those games that sneaks in and punches a very young struggling team in the tooth. I remember Dallas taking a few lumps before some big years. The one constant was Coach Johnson through the building process. The Raiders can ill afford a regime change this quickly. For the first time in a long time there seems to be some progress on the field. A win at Arrowhead alone should be proof.

The best thing for every one involved would be for Al to bite his bottom lip and realize the reason he chose “Lance” Lane Kiffin in the first place. It is because he thought he carried with him a little moxie. The same moxie that got him hired is going to send him to the bread line. Kiffin on the other hand can realize that he was hired by the Raiders, and didn’t actually purchase the Raiders, giving Al a little wiggle room in some of the personnel decisions. Kiffin’s open and refreshingly honest remarks have included a few jabs, but also real personal growth. He is young, bright and sometimes brash to a fault. He has a lot of room to grow, but seems to realize this with every passing game. So please Al, argue with Kiffin, teach Kiffin, but don’t send him packing because he doesn’t always play the “yes man” role. For the sake of the Raiders, leave Kiffin “in”.


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