ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -During their past five dismal seasons, the most interesting thing about the Oakland Raiders has been the bizarre off-field happenings that have served as a distraction and sometimes as a reason for all the losing.
Take this offseason for example. The defensive coordinator was fired until the owner said he wasn't. The head coach wanted to be fired and the owner wanted him to resign, so Lane Kiffin ended up back for a second season. Former players criticized the franchise as soon as they landed with other teams. And the $55 million wide receiver got beat up and robbed in Las Vegas, then wanted to retire in training camp before being talked out of it by the owner.
This type of dizzying string of events has become so familiar around owner Al Davis' once-proud franchise that players have learned to tune it all out.
``I tried to stay off the Internet and just in my experience here, with all the things that have gone on, I really don't listen to the talk or what people expect or anything like that,'' said running back Justin Fargas, entering his sixth year in Oakland. ``I just try to concentrate on what I can do to improve as a player. That's not going to change, this is my approach.''
That approach might not be easy this season as the feud between Kiffin and Davis that became public in January has simmered all offseason and into training camp.
It began almost as soon as last season ended, with reports that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had been fired over a philosophical difference with Kiffin. That was followed by a statement from the team that Ryan in fact would be staying, as Davis made it clear that he did not want to let his defensive coordinator go.
A few weeks later, came the reports that Kiffin asked to be fired if he couldn't pick his coaching staff and Davis responded by sending his coach a letter of resignation to sign.
The game of chicken ended with both sides blinking and Kiffin coming back for a second season despite a strained relationship with his owner.
``We have a working relationship, and I think we have the same goal, and that's to get this team to win,'' Kiffin said.
But if the team's poor record the past five seasons and the comments from former Raiders this offseason are any indication, nothing is working in Oakland.
Warren Sapp told the St. Petersburg Times his time with the Raiders was as ``dark as a black hole.'' Chris Carr said it was difficult to win in Oakland because there was ``so much other stuff going on there.'' Stuart Schweigert talked about ``a thousand-pound bear'' being lifted off him when he was released by the team, and Jerry Porter said being a Raider had become a ``burden.''
It all points to a culture of dysfunction around the Raiders.
``What they're discussing, I can't change, so that subject is what it is,'' Kiffin said. ``I control what I can control and get us as good as we can get with what I can control. I don't have control of that.''
That's been Kiffin's mantra all summer as he has questioned the team's personnel decisions, which have always been under Davis' purview.
Kiffin has been especially critical of receiver Javon Walker, calling him out of shape during offseason workouts and singling him out for much of camp. The $55 million contract given to Walker this offseason was part of a big spending spree by Davis as he hopes to win his first Super Bowl in a quarter century.
But Walker's tenure has been marred by the robbery in Las Vegas in June and then his desire to retire early in training camp. Davis talked him out of it, but Kiffin has remained critical of his receiver's performance.
Davis has not spoken to reporters this summer, leaving Kiffin as the public voice of the franchise. But it's clear Kiffin has been trying to distance himself from some of the moves the team made. It remains to be seen if all this talk will cost Kiffin his job before the season even ends.
Davis has only fired a coach during the season once before, getting rid of Mike Shanahan in 1989, four games into his second season. With a bye after Week 4 this season, Kiffin could be in danger of following Shanahan if Oakland doesn't get off to a quick start.
``When you take this job you realize who the owner is and you realize most guys don't last really long so that is what it is,'' Kiffin said. ``If you sit there and worry about that and you think about that you're not doing the best that you can for your team.''
Coaching longevity has been rare around the Raiders. Since the team returned from Los Angeles in 2005, Jon Gruden is the only coach to last more than two seasons.
Joe Bugel and Art Shell each were fired after only one season, while Mike White, Bill Callahan and Norv Turner each got two years on the job.
That revolving door has helped keep the Raiders in a downward spiral since they lost the Super Bowl to Gruden and Tampa Bay 48-21 in January 2003.
Oakland has a 19-61 record since that game, the fewest wins in the NFL in that span. It's even a worse record than the first five seasons of any of the past four expansion teams, which is remarkable considering the slide started with a Super Bowl roster.
It took until midway through Davis' 17th season with the Raiders for the team to lose as many games as it has lost in the past five.
The last five years have featured plenty of intrigue but very few wins.
There was Callahan calling his players ``the dumbest team in America'' in 2003, linebacker Bill Romanowski smashing teammate Marcus Williams' face with a punch in practice earlier that season, Randy Moss quitting on his team during his two-year stint in Oakland, and Shell benching and then suspending Porter for insubordination.
It's been enough to make any Raiders fan frustrated.
``A lot of my friends and family are Oakland fans, so I don't want to have to listen to the negative talk,'' said safety Gibril Wilson, who left the Super Bowl champion Giants to sign with Oakland in the offseason. ``It's just very important to just get back to winning, to get back to the Oakland mystique, the silver and black. ... That's what we need to get back to.''

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