Normally when Al Davis holds a press conference, it’s a major sporting event. Reporters and columnists from around the Bay Area flock to Raiders headquarters on Harbor Bay Parkway. The team’s auditorium is mostly full, with cameras lining the front row. Cold cuts and brownies are served.

It wasn’t like that today, because no one figured Davis would be there to introduce his newest player, defensive end Richard Seymour, and because the whole deal was arranged on fairly short notice. But there he was, to Seymour’s left, with the nearly mute Tom Cable to Seymour’s right.

So we became part of a strange proceeding, with the most interesting man in sports addressing perhaps 10 writers. Of course, it was highly entertaining. Here are some excerpts:
DAVIS ON WOOING THE HESITANT SEYMOUR: “Being real honest, we recruited him a little bit because we knew what he was going through. We sensed that this would disrupt him mentally, based on the fact that he is known to be someone who is interested in faith, family and football, and we had two of our ex-players go up to see him who are working for us on the East Coast — Zack Crockett was one, and William Thomas was the other — and reassure him that this was a great situation, and to my relief they called me back and the situation was not a problem at all.”
DAVIS INADVERTENTLY EXPLAINING WHY IT’S SO HARD TO COACH IN OAKLAND: “Randy Moss was great here for us. We couldn’t satisfy Randy; that was our fault. He’s a truly great player. The idea when you get a great player is to make him happy and satisfy him.”


DAVIS ON THAT SCOUNDREL RODNEY HARRISON: “There’s one player that I remember that keeps attacking us. In the year 2003, he sat in my office and begged for a contract, and wouldn’t give it to him because of rumors. That guy attacked us on the television shows, and it’s only because I wouldn’t give him a contract and I wouldn’t let him play here.”


DAVIS ON THE GRIEVANCE FILED BY THE NFLPA ON SEYMOUR’S BEHALF, OVER THE 5-DAY LETTER THE RAIDERS SENT THE PLAYER: “I thought that was minimal, it was nothing. I’m sure that they won’t even go through with it. They had nothing. They just wanted to let you know that the Players Association is still available. Whatever we did, we were entitled to do. … Anybody can file anything. That grievance meant nothing. The rules state that I could do it. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”


DAVIS ON WORKING OUT THE DEAL WITH BILL BELICHICK: “Bill said to me he has to check with (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft. I laughed, because I thought all coaches had complete ability to do what they wanted. It’s only this place where they have to go to the owner if they want to do something.”


DAVIS, ON HOW THE RAIDERS WILL USE SEYMOUR: “We’ve got Greg (Ellis) over there on the left. We’ve got Trevor Scott, who we think is going to be brilliant as a pass rusher. But we didn’t want to put Trevor up there every down where he can get beat up like Burgess got beat up.”


DAVIS, NOT QUITE GETTING THE ROLE OF THE PRESS WHEN THE CHRONICLE’S DAVID WHITE ASKED SEYMOUR WHETHER HE DESIRES A LONG-TERM DEAL: “He has an agent, I can assure you. Everyone knows his agent. David, don’t worry about things that don’t concern you.”


DAVIS, ON THE RAIDERS’ THROWBACK UNIFORMS, WHICH ARE THE BOMB: “Yeah, I though about doing it in past, but the league didn’t want us to do it. I was the one who designed the uniform. We used it in 1963 and it was great. The reason they didn’t want to use it in the past is the film cannot identify certain players in the throwback uniform; the silver numbers are tough to identity. So teams start complaining. So I stopped it, and we just did the black – we’ve never changed – and the white. I always loved those things. In ’63 everyone said, wow, that’s the best-looking uniform ever. But we just got away from it because of the filmwork. They’re always complaining about something.”


DAVIS ON THE 3-4: “I’ve always had my eye on Seymour, because it’s tough to play the right end in a three-man line. We’ve had one great player do that – Lyle Alzado. He’s someone that we’ve been watching for years and I never thought we’d get a shot at him.”

DAVIS ON BILL BELICHICK: “We almost hired him here when we hired Gruden. Amy (Trask) picked him and I picked Gruden. We had three guys in. Belichick, Gruden and I’m trying to think who the third one was.”

DAVIS ON JEFF GARCIA NOT WORKING OUT IN OAKLAND: “I wouldn’t get into that, because the coaches wanted to sign him originally. That’s between the coaches and Jeff.”

DAVIS ON ROOKIE WR DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY: “Darrius will come around, he’ll be great. What’s-his-name was called ‘Oops.’ I told you this – Jerry Rice with the 49ers. Couldn’t catch the ball. Terrell Owens, couldn’t catch the ball. Fred Biletnikoff, I was going to trade him – then at the last minute I kept him – because he couldn’t catch the ball. Somehow or other they came around, and Darrius will come around, I hope.”

DAVIS, AGAIN CITING THE POWER OF TRASK WHEN ASKED IF HE LIKES PLAYING IN A MONDAY-NIGHT OPENER: “No. I don’t. But Amy thinks its great and that’s why it’s done.”

DAVIS ON THE WHOLE RANDY HANSON MESS: “I don’t get involved in those things. I don’t know much about it. I don’t expect anything to happen. I hope nothing happens, let’s put it that way. That’s what we don’t need right now.”

AND OF COURSE, DAVIS ON LANE KIFFIN’S TENNESSEE VOLS LOSING TO UCLA AFTER GETTING STUFFED INSIDE THE 5-YARD LINE: “I didn’t care one way or the other. I know (Rick) Neuheisel. I know the other fella who’s coaching the other team. I did see the similarities, though, when you get near the goal line.”

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