Editors Note: This is Part II of our very own Raider Ute’s description of how his beloved Raiders fell into the state they are. It’s a fascinating read for all sports fans. A link for Part I is below.
April 23, 2005–Picking at 23 no thanks to a trade with the Vikings to get Randy Moss, the Raiders select CB Fabian Washington out of Nebraska. Classic Al pick in that he’s the fastest guy in the combine and that Al believes his coaching staff can develop him into an All-Pro. The pick that followed was Green Bay selecting Aaron Rodgers. While this didn’t really bother Raider fans too much, it still spins Niner fans into a tizzy at the mere mention of it to this very day. Washington’s last known whereabouts had him on the Saints practice squad.
September 8, 2005–A season that ended before it began. Monday night in Foxboro against New England, with a team that many thought would light up a lot of scoreboards were exposed for all the football world to see. 16 penalties for 149 yards in a 30-20 defeat will do that. But get this: a team with an allegedly resurgent QB, a superstar WR, and a pretty workmanlike backfield featuring LaMont Jordan averaged a sparkling 18.1 points per game.
January 3, 2006–Finishing the season at 4-12 and losing the final six games of the season, Norv Turner was fired. So it was back to waiting for the white smoke to appear from 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway for our next field general.
February, 2006–Then Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt interviews with Al for the vacant head coaching position. No one quite knows what occurred in that interview somewhere in Alameda, but I’m guessing that some sort of minutiae was argued over and things ended poorly. So Whisenhunt was out.
February 11, 2006–Finally, the white smoke appears from 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway and the next Raider head coach is…Art Shell. I don’t know what I or anyone else in the Raider Nation did to deserve this, but as such, Shell is family and we treat him as such. It’s to the point now that if this team wins so much as 8 games I would consider that cause for celebration. Roughly four years after nearly winning a Super Bowl, it came to that. Soon after, Shell brings back Tom Walsh, who was working at a bed and breakfast somewhere outside of Rexburg to be his new offensive coordinator and Rob Ryan came back for another year as defensive coordinator.
April 29, 2006–Raiders draft S Michael Huff out of Texas with the 7th overall pick, which based on other picks available didn’t seem quite so bad. A major catcall was thrown out at me during draft day that we should have taken Matt Leinart. Yeah, that would have worked out great. For the record though, I was really really really hoping A.J. Hawk would have been available at #7, but Green Bay snatched him up two picks earlier.
October 29, 2006–The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers make their way to Oakland to face a 1-5 Raiders squad. It’s not every day that the cockiness of a quarterback comes back to haunt him, but it did to Ben Roethlisberger, where on 3rd and goal, he manages to throw into triple coverage and Chris Carr runs it all the way back for a touchdown. 98 yards of total Raider offense and 3 more Big Ben picks later, the Raiders would end up winning the game in what is quite possibly the most hilarious game in the entire history of the Silver and Black. I often point and laugh at Steeler fans as I think about that game.
January 4, 2007–Coach Shell resigns after a 2-14 campaign, the worst season in Oakland since before Al arrived in 1963. The number one overall draft pick awaits us in a few months. With the quarterbacking menagerie of Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks and a completely finished Marques Tuiasosopo on the roster, the focus turns to a quarterback to turn the franchise around.
January 23, 2007–White smoke again appears from 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway and Al hires as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders…Lane Kiffin. 31 year old USC assistant Lane Kiffin, a man without a single day of NFL experience to his name.
April 28, 2007–With the first pick, the Raiders select LSU QB Jamarcus Russell. Now, I will admit I bought into Russell being a potential savior of this franchise even if Lane didn’t…until he started playing. And the fact that he held out until the season had begun that year. And it sort of went downhill from there. A mutual message board pal of ours laughed at the Russell pick almost immediately and said we should have taken Stanford QB Trent Edwards. When he turned out to not be able to stay healthy in the NFL as well as in the college ranks, I was once again vindicated.
September 16, 2007–Here we are again, in Denver with Sebastian Janikowski lining up for a potential game-winning field goal. Seabass kicks it through and the Raiders win…or do they? It turned out that Mike Shanahan put one over on us yet again and called a timeout before the ball was snapped. So the kick is attempted again. This time, Janikowski misses, game goes into overtime and Denver wins. This started a very annoying football strategy that I would now like to see outlawed. Thanks, Mike!
September 23, 2007–Back home at the Coliseum against the Browns its another tight game and Cleveland is lining up for a game winning field goal by Phil Dawson with time winding down. Dawson kicks it clean through and the Browns win…except for the fact that Lane Kiffin called a timeout before the ball was snapped. Re-kick occurs and it’s blocked by Raider DT Tommy Kelly. Raiders win and Lane Kiffin said in his post-game press conference, “thanks, Mike!” Sometime after that game I said to myself “you know, Monte’s kid is a bit of a punk, but I’m taking a bit of a liking to him.
November 25, 2007–Well, I did take a liking to him until his team lost 6 games in a row going into Arrowhead against the Chiefs. It’s a very typical low-scoring slugfest as most games against the Ketchup and Mustard often are. Game is also a back and forth contest where Daunte Culpepper leads the offense 69 yards down the field to take at 20-17 lead early in the 4th. Narrow leads have evaporated into the cold Missouri sky before for us, but with 4:26 left on the clock and KC driving, the Chiefs go for it in Raider territory on 4th and 1 and don’t make it. From there, it was the Justin Fargas Show…up the middle for 11 yards. To the right for 12 more. Time’s ticking. Inside the 2 minute warning and it’s 3rd and 11 inside KC territory. Make this and…ZOMG Fargas for 21 yards!!1!!1!! THE RAIDERS ARE GONNA WIN!! I’M GOING TO HAVE CASUAL SEX WITH A REASONABLY REASONABLY ATTRACTIVE WOMAN!!! The first win against a division opponent in almost 3 years and it was glorious.
December 2, 2007–Lane finally got a little bit of payback on Shanahan as the Raiders beat Denver for the first time in 3 years and it also gave us the first glimpse of one Jamarcus Russell. 4 of 7 for 56 yards wasn’t too bad given the fact that Josh McCown did much of the heavy lifting on the quarterbacking side and Justin Fargas had yet another huge day on the ground. But all of the sudden, this potential 4-12 didn’t look quite as bad as the previous 4-12′s.
January 25, 2008–Al apparently wasn’t happy with the fact that his new prodigy went 4-12, so from there the fight over money was well underway. Al may have wanted to get rid of him before the upcoming season began, but there had to be a little bit more reason to do so than what had been presented to him thus far.
April 26, 2008–With the 4th overall pick, the Raiders select Darren McFadden. Awesome, it’s someone who people think can play football instead of just run fast, it’s like Christmas at Easter time! Maybe, just maybe, this is what can make this team a relevant, contending team again…
September 8, 2008–When it mattered, the results of the Lane Kiffin hire were clear.
Broncos 41, Raiders 14.
The worst loss in the history of Raider football on Monday night. Jamarcus Russell was sacked 3 times, threw two INTs and managed a meager 180 yards worth of passing. Mr. Davis, do your worst. You’ve convinced me.
September 28, 2008–San Diego comes to the Coliseum and anyone who was watching knew something wasn’t quite right. Well, Lane had made the executive decision to have the team wear their road white uniforms at home. EPIC FAIL. The little punk broke tradition and something karmic came this way. With the Raiders actually leading 15-3 going into the 4th quarter when one by one, things started to unravel. Antonio Gates scores to cut the lead to 5. Tomlinson gives the Chargers the lead. Both teams trade field goals before “LT” puts the game out of reach. Game over.