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Oakland Raiders did not have a full-time groundskeeper under Al Davis

Al DavisThe stories of how far behind the times the Oakland Raiders were in Al Davis’ later years are infamous. Last year, we passed along a story saying that new GM Reggie McKenzie asked the team to construct a modern-day “war room” for the NFL Draft because no such room existed at the team’s facilities. Now we’re learning that the team did not even have a full-time groundskeeper on staff under Davis, who died in late 2011.

Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter spent a season with the Raiders and wrote an excellent article about it for the April 22 edition of the magazine. The feature, called “The New Silver and Black,” talks about some of the changes McKenzie made with the franchise and how power was passed from Al Davis, to his son Mark Davis, and on to Reggie.

Early in the story, Trotter mentions that McKenzie was out for a jog around the practice fields at the Raiders’ training facility in Alameda when he noticed the poor field conditions. He said the footing was uneven and that there were goose droppings and dirt patches. Upon inquiring, McKenzie learned that the Raiders did not have a full-time groundskeeper on site. Instead, they outsourced the job to a local company.

Maintaining a field is a full-time job, and one would think an NFL team would place a pretty high priority on having top-of-the-line field conditions. Not the Raiders at the time.

Another frightening story shared by Trotter came from an agent, who says he was negotiating with Davis on a contract for a free agent. The two had agreed on a guaranteed money amount before Davis got off the call because he was having a coughing fit. When they resumed the call a day later, Davis supposedly asked the agent where they had left off. The agent told the late owner they had agreed on the amount of guaranteed money, and quoted him a price $1 million higher than the previous number. Davis didn’t notice and just picked up the negotiation from there.

The entire article is filled with great stories and information from Trotter, including details on who made the choice to acquire Carson Palmer. We recommend you pick up an SI subscription to read it if you don’t already have one. It’s really no wonder why the Raiders became so bad during the 2000 decade. They were just horribly managed in multiple aspects.

Oakland Raiders are pretty happy to see the tuck rule go

Oakland RaidersNFL owners are expected to vote next week on a proposal from the league’s competition committee to eliminate the tuck rule, and no team seems happier about the impending change than the Oakland Raiders.

The team’s official Twitter account sent the following tweet Thursday afternoon:

For you young folks who didn’t realize the Raiders were actually good once upon a time, the team lost a divisional playoff game to the New England Patriots 16-13 in the 2001 season after the Pats benefited from a call thanks to the tuck rule. The rule is ridiculous and should have been eliminated a decade ago. Hopefully the owners finally will do the right thing and get rid of it. The vote will take place at the owners’ meetings in Phoenix next week.

Bill Callahan calls Super Bowl allegations ‘ludicrous;’ Tim Brown backpedals

bill callahan raidersFormer Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan released a statement on Tuesday night addressing allegations made by former players that he intentionally threw Super Bowl XXVII against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As expected, he denied that there was any truth behind it and expressed how offended he is by what Tim Brown and Jerry Rice said.

“I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations,” Callahan said in a statement released to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. “To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegation. To suggest otherwise, especially at this time when it involves the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory.

“Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicated my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans, is flat out wrong. I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately.”

Brown didn’t exactly retract his allegation, but he certainly backpedaled during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday morning. In Brown’s original accusation, he specifically said that the Raiders players called it “sabotage” because of Callahan’s relationship with then-Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. Now, the nine-time Pro Bowler is claiming that is not what he meant.

“I’ve never said [Callahan] sabotaged the game,” Brown told Patrick. “That’s something that can never be proven. We can never go into the mind of Bill Callahan. …. I should have said we could have called it sabotage. It was a question, not a statement. You cannot prove it.”

A number of players came out in support of Callahan after Brown made his accusation and Rice agreed with him. Brown’s theory is incredibly hard to believe, and he’s most likely changing his tune now that he realizes very few people are willing to back him up. Judging by the 48-21 beating the Bucs threw on the Raiders, it’s safe to say Callahan did a poor job of coaching and preparing his team. To accuse a coach of losing the biggest game of the year intentionally just because his buddy is standing on the other sideline seems extremely far-fetched.

Tim Brown, Jerry Rice accuse Bill Callahan of throwing Super Bowl; Others disagree

bill callahan raidersThe Oakland Raiders were crushed 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego nearly 10 years ago. The game was one of the most lopsided in Super Bowl history, and now, almost 10 years later, accusations are surfacing that Bill Callahan may have thrown the big game.

The accusations first came from 9-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tim Brown. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice agreed with Brown, while other former Raiders disagree.

We’ll start with the comments made by Brown over the weekend on SiriusXM NFL radio, as shared by Pro Football Talk.

“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” Brown said Saturday. “We averaged 340 [pounds] on the offensive line, they averaged 280 [on the defensive line]. We’re all happy with that, everybody is excited. [We] tell Charlie Garner, ‘Look, you’re not gonna get too many carries, but at the end of the day we’re gonna get a victory. Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, let’s get ready to blow this thing up.’”

According to Brown, Callahan then inexplicably changed the entire gameplan on Friday, two days before the big game. They went from planning a run-heavy attack to deciding to throw it 60 times. Brown called into question Callahan’s relationship with Jon Gruden when discussing the situation. Gruden was the coach of the Raiders from 1998-2001, so he was facing his former team in the Super Bowl in his first season with his new team.

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Matt Leinart: I deserve to start

Matt-Leinart-RaidersCarson Palmer is scheduled to miss this weekend’s game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers after suffering cracked ribs and a bruised lung on Sunday. That means either Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor is in line for his first start of the season. Rather than naming a starter earlier in the week, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has decided to let Leinart and Pryor compete for the spot.

The former USC star does not sound overly thrilled about that.

“I just think in this situation, I think I deserve to play, I deserve to start,” Leinart said according to CBSSports.com. “Not sure what’s going to happen, but that’s all you can do — just keep preparing, keep working hard, be here, be accountable and whatever happens, whatever decision is made, that’s what’s made. You can’t do anything about it.

“So if they want to start Terrelle and evaluate him and see what he can do, then I’ll support that, and I’ll help him this week and help him during the game. But if they make me the starter, I’m just going to go out there and try to capitalize on that opportunity.”

Leinart handled most of the work after Palmer went down in Carolina, and he didn’t exactly make a strong case to be handed the starting job in Week 17. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards and an interception and finished with a passer rating of 45.7. Pryor took only two snaps.

The difference between Leinart and Pryor is that we know Leinart’s days of being an everyday NFL starter are behind him. He proved on multiple occasions that he is incapable of handling that role. Pryor is in only his second season, so we can’t be certain that he won’t morph into a starter. With the playoffs out of reach and one game remaining, the Raiders have nothing to lose by giving him a chance to state his case.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Terrelle Pryor or Matt Leinart to start for Raiders at quarterback

Terrelle Pryor or Matt Leinart is expected to start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders at the San Diego Chargers in the team’s season finale on Sunday now that Carson Palmer is hurt.

Palmer got hurt during the team’s Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers and is out with cracked ribs and a bruised lung. Raiders head coach Dennis Allen says Palmer was in the hospital for observation after the team returned to Oakland Sunday night, and that he is out for the game.

Leinart was 3-for-3 for 31 yards passing in place of Palmer on Sunday. Pryor completed a pass, caught a pass, and ran for two yards in his action.

“I think we’ll stick with Matt and Terrelle for this week,” Allen said Monday. “We’ll get both those guys reps in practice with the first-team this week.”

Allen wants to see how the two perform in practice during the week before naming a starter.

“We’re not ready to make that decision. Our plan is to work both of them this week and then we’ll see how practice goes. Later in the week we’ll be ready to name a starter.”

Allen said that he thought Pryor “did a nice job” on the three plays he had against Carolina. He also called Pryor a work in progress, and indicated the second-year player may not be ready to lead the team.

“I think he’s still a work in progress,” Allen said of Pryor. “He’s worked extremely hard in practice. I don’t know that he has full command of everything that we’re doing, but I wouldn’t expect a lot different out of any other young quarterback. He’s got to continue to work, and he’s done a nice job.”

Allen did cite Pryor’s athleticism as an intriguing factor.

Based on what the coach was saying Monday, if I had to make a guess, I’d say Leinart will probably start the game, with Pryor still seeing plenty of action. What unfolds at practice during the week could change that. If I were Oakland, I would just give Pryor a shot. You know Leinart is only a second-string QB in the league, so why not give Pryor some game experience to see what he can do?

Below is video of Allen’s comments on Monday:

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Bengals OL Andrew Whitworth calls Raiders cowards for fight

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth described most of the Oakland Raiders as cowards a few days after being involved in an on-field fight with them that led to three ejections.

Whitworth jumped in to defend quarterback Andy Dalton, who was slammed to the ground by Raiders DE Lamarr Houston after a whistle had already blown in the fourth quarter. Whitworth, Houston, and Raiders DL Tommy Kelly were ejected for their roles in the fight.

On Wednesday, Whitworth reportedly had marks under his eye and called the Raiders cowards for their cheap shots and attempted eye gouging..

“I thought it was pretty cowardly. Those guys know who they are. It doesn’t shock me,” Whitworth said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You’ve got guys that want to make names for themselves and can’t, and then they get frustrated. It’s their opportunity to do something they feel and be tough, but that ain’t tough. Face-to-face is tough. Most of those guys, they are what they are — they’re cowards. And if they really wanted to have an issue with you, they’d address you. But they obviously don’t.”

Whitworth did not regret entering the fight, saying after the game he had a contract to protect his quarterback.

If we’re basing things on the scoreboard, then the Bengals beat the Raiders on both fronts. They won 34-10.