Raiders owner takes this coach firing personally Print
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Tuesday, 30 September 2008 20:37
NFL Headline News

 The usual protocol when it comes to firing coaches in the NFL is for the owner or general manager to get in front of a microphone, explain that things just didn't work out, and wish the not-so-dearly departed well.
Al Davis has never been terribly concerned with protocol. But when you've fired four coaches in the last five years, maybe it's hard to find something nice to say about all of them.
So, Mr. Davis, tell us what you really think about Lane Kiffin.
``Just a flat out liar.''
Could you expand on that?
``He lies. He's a professional liar.''
Davis had a lot more to say about his former coach during a rambling statement Tuesday that covered more alleged transgressions than you would have thought Kiffin had time to commit during his brief tenure with the silver-and-black. To those who still didn't get it, Davis had his minions release a letter he wrote to Kiffin two weeks ago detailing all his offenses.
even finished one season and whose first question upon learning he was going to be fired was ``Are you going to pay me?''
The short answer is no, and did I mention he was a liar?
``A lot of people in the organization believed he wanted to be fired but he (still) wanted to be paid,'' Davis said.
Teams and coaches, of course, go separate ways all the time in sports. Part of the job description of being a head coach is knowing that some day you'll be fired, though Kiffin's reign in Oakland was notable for being especially brief at just 20 months.
But this was different because it was so painfully personal. There was the elderly Davis, squinting at notes under a large desk lamp as he systematically trashed a coach young enough to be his grandson for the worst sin of all - never really being a Raiders guy.
How else could you explain having your talented young quarterback throw only three passes in the second half against Buffalo? Think that would have been tolerated in the old American Football League?
``We're not Woody Hayes,'' Davis said.
The parting of ways between the Raiders and Kiffin came as no great surprise. It had been rumored for weeks, and Kiffin himself expected it for reasons that went far beyond Oakland's 1-3 record going into a bye week.
e thinking that he doesn't have that many years left to restore order to the once proud franchise he has helped turn into one of the most hapless in the NFL.
This wasn't just a firing, though. It was an evisceration.
In Davis' mind perhaps it had to be, if only to justify his decision not to pay Kiffin the remainder of the $6 million left on his three-year deal. The money isn't terribly important to a franchise that gave Broncos' castoff Javon Walker a $55 million contract this year, but Davis made it clear he has no inclination to make good unless ordered to do so by a court.
Davis may be stuck in a football time warp of sorts, but he knows what he wants and what he wants is for the Raiders to intimidate other teams on defense and throw the ball deep and throw it often behind JaMarcus Russell. Kiffin wasn't making that happen, but he was in trouble long before that.
Kiffin's biggest mistake may have been wanting his father, a longtime NFL defensive coordinator, to take over the Oakland defense while Davis was loyal to Rob Ryan. Davis was further incensed when Kiffin reportedly tried to leave during his first season to take a college job.
Convincing the owner to let Randy Moss get away for a fourth round draft pick didn't help matters, either, especially when Moss flourished in New England.
``I think he conned me just like he conned the rest of you people,'' Davis said.
side of the story, anyway, and since he's the owner he gets to talk first. Kiffin might soon be tempted to hold a press conference of his own, at which point he could call Davis a crazy old man and say what everybody in Oakland already knows, that the Raiders are a dysfunctional team ruled by an impetuous owner who answers to no one but himself.
Or he could take the high road, ignore the fact Davis called him a liar nine different ways, and take his chances on future employers understanding that some owners are more difficult to work for than others.
The new coach may find himself explaining that some day in the near future, too. Tom Cable was promoted from offensive line coach and given the head job with the understanding it could be his if he can win.
That means letting Ryan coach the defense as he likes, letting Russell let loose with the ball, and letting Davis have the last say on everything.
It also means professing his devotion for everything silver-and-black, which comes easy for Cable since he grew up as a Raiders fan.
``He has a love of the Raiders,'' Davis said.
Maybe so, but after four firings in five years how long will the Raiders keep loving him?
----
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org
 

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