We in the media love to poke fun at the circus the Oakland Raiders have become, and especially their ringmaster, Al Davis. Well, on Monday we were part of the show, riding in circles on our tiny bicycles.
It began with a single story, released Monday by one of the Bay Area reporters who covers the Raiders beat. In this article, the writer said owner Al Davis was set to meet with Tom Cable that day to discuss the coach’s future – or lack thereof – with the team. The story went on to argue that Cable’s chances of retaining his job were not good.
It was a small snowball rolled down Mount Davis. By late afternoon it had grown to the size of Iceland.
Other media outlets – many of them located far away, with no direct access to the Raiders – quickly seized upon the local report, and not only repeated but embellished it. In short order, Davis was not just meeting with Cable. He was officially firing him. Discussion turned not to whether Cable was a goner, but who might replace him in Oakland. Kevin Gilbride? Jim Harbaugh? Mike Leach?
What was fascinating was that by late Monday afternoon, most stories cited “widespread reports” or stated that “numerous media outlets are reporting… .” But really, as far as I could see, it all spun off of the one local story. The “numerous media outlets” really were citing one another, propping each other up. It was a giant house of cards, a ponzi scheme of sports news.
So when Monday came and went and it appeared that Cable had not even met with Davis, sports journalists throughout the land were left looking sheepish. Especially those who had assembled in the parking lot at Raiders headquarters to get a look at Cable as he exited, red-faced, from his tenure in Oakland. When it failed to materialize, they had no one but themselves to blame.
Those who have covered the Raiders for years could have told them that Al Davis works on his own timetable. He is in no rush to resolve Cable’s future. He may fire Cable today. He may do it tomorrow, or in three weeks. Or he may not do it at all. And if that’s the case, we may never get official confirmation.
Of course, we need to keep watching the Cable saga with eyes wide open. The lesson here is that, at the same time, we must take all bold predictions regarding Davis with a grain of salt.