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The case for Art Shell

The case for firing Art Shell after the season is so self-explanatory I don’t feel the need to flesh it out in detail. You start with an NFL-worst 2-13 record (most likely in the FasTrak lane to 2-14), proceed to one of the worst offenses in modern history and a season-long feud with one of the team’s best players, and you probably don’t need to offer a lot more. The case for keeping Shell is more nuanced and perhaps trickier… Read More »

Warren Sapp and gay porn

Warren Sapp, improbably, has become the Buddha figure of the Raiders’ locker room. He can occasionally be curt, and sometimes he gets lost in thought reading e-mails or playing on-line poker on his Blackberry. But more often, he parks himself on the bench in front of his locker and dispenses wit, wisdom, analysis and belly laughs to a ravenous media audience. Wednesday, Sapp was in fine form. The big man engaged a small cluster of writers for 22 minutes before… Read More »

Gentlemen, start your rumor-mongering

Fire-the-coach season has officially opened in Oakland. With the Raiders’ campaign spiraling downward at 2-12, it stood to reason that the season finale would immediately be followed up with racing rumors of Art Shell’s impending dismissal. The first legitimate salvo was fired Thursday, by NFL Network reporter Adam Schefter. During a pregame report from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Schefter quoted “a high-ranking Raiders official” who told him Shell would get his pink slip following the season. Schefter seems to… Read More »

Come back, Shane

I guess I touched a nerve. My argument against Shane Lechler’s Pro Bowl bid received more on-site comments from readers than any other blog entry I have posted this season. Some of the messages blasted me, but in general they were fairly evenly split between agreement and contention. The visitors who criticized Lechler mostly argued that (1) he works too hard to pad his statistics, and (2) he’s no Ray Guy. That second complaint is a tough one. Guy was… Read More »

The knock on Lechler

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t make the AFC Pro Bowl squad. He should have. Some corners have the interceptions. Some have the body of work over a long season, proving themselves hard to beat for pass completions. Asomugha has both in 2006. What hurt him were (1) the Raiders’ record, and (2) his meteoric rise to elite status. It happened so fast, he didn’t have enough time to garner the reputation that precedes Pro Bowl votes. I thought defensive end Derrick… Read More »

The good, the bad and the un-beautiful

It’s a scene that is replayed every other week in the home locker room at McAfee Coliseum. When they throw open the door to writers and cameras, players fill the room in various stages of hygiene and dress. Clusters form around certain players, then break apart and reassemble elsewhere. The athletes talk among themselves and slowly trickle away for home. And when the room is nearly empty – only a sprinkling of players and writers here and there – Al… Read More »

The Raiders’ 83-percent chance of winning

Chalk up a win for the Raiders this weekend, their long-anticipated third victory of the season. Premature? Talk to Warren Sapp. “Money good this week, money good,” the boisterous defensive tackle insisted on Monday. Sapp wasn’t dissing the Rams, this Sunday’s opponent. Rather, he was citing a statistical phenomenon first proposed to him by Tony Dungy, his former coach in Tampa Bay. It was 2001, and the Buccaneers had just beaten the Rams 24-17 in a Monday-night game. They were… Read More »

Dougie’s back

You just can’t outfox Al Davis. On the day of final cuts, Sept. 2, the Raiders unexpectedly sent wide receiver Doug Gabriel to New England for a fifth-round draft choice. The Patriots waived Gabriel Tuesday, and the Raiders signed him today. So this team gets the player and the draft choice! High-five! Yes, the Raiders might be 2-11, but they’re not too downtrodden to outfox the mighty Patriots on occasion. Gabriel’s flight west is just the latest installment of an… Read More »

Moss, Curry, Jano and a weak Cincinnati guard

Has Randy Moss caught his last pass as a Raider? That sounds a little melodramatic considering the guy merely twisted his ankle Sunday, and didn’t look to be in severe pain as he stretched the joint on the Oakland sidelines in the first half. On the other hand, Moss and the Raiders might take this opportunity to go into the latest permutation of Operation: Shutdown. Charles Woodson showed how it was done last year after a strange leg injury, and… Read More »

Art Shell, pioneer

There are seven African-American head coaches in the National Football League. Art Shell is one of them, and his Raiders will wind up playing another four – Cleveland’s Romeo Crennel, Arizona’s Dennis Green, Kansas City’s Herm Edwards and, this Sunday, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis. People are free to debate whether seven out of 32 jobs is too few, or whether NFL teams have been making good-faith efforts to interview minority candidates for open coaching positions. But it’s clear the league has… Read More »