Thursdays With Raider: Raiders of the Lost Super Bowl


Raider Thoughts

It’s the damndest thing.

Quite frankly, I was planning on going through the rest of my time here on this mortal sphere with the very private–delusional just seems like such a cruel connotation–but long-suffering knowledge that the 2002 Oakland Raiders were the best team that ever put on the Silver and Black.  Better than the glory years of the 70s, better than the 1980 team that became the first Wild Card team to ever win a Super Bowl, maybe even better than the 1983 team that thumped the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Or at least that ’02 team would have been if we hadn’t played a former employee of Mr. Davis.

To put this as briefly as I can, we started that year off at 4-0 and beat the living tar out of theSeahawks, Steelers, Titans and the Bills.  Then, the Silver and Black lost four games in a row to go into a showdown in Denver on Monday Night with the season possibly on the line.  I had two memories of that game: 1) Rich Gannon completing something like 500 passes in a row, and 2) with Denver driving for an opening touch down, Rod Woodson jumps the route on 3rd and goal and runs it back 99 yards for a touchdown.  So that put us back in business.

After a 5 game winning streak, the Raiders go to Miami and get physically dominated, whichgave the Dolphins the inside track to home field advantage throughout the playoffs with two games to play.  Well, hilariously, somebody forgot to tell the Vikings and the Patriots because they Dolphins went from 9-5 and controlling their own destiny to missing the playoffs entirely.  Of everything I find funny about that season, that may be the funniest of them all.

Well, after beating Denver to clinch the division (hey, I was at that game!) and shutting out KC to clinch home field advantage, it was onto the divisional round of the playoffs against the Jets, a team that we beat on Monday night earlier in the year and that the entire football world thought that since the Jets were the hottest team in the NFL, completely ignoring the fact that the Raiders had been every bit as dominant, save for the Miami loss.  So a good 30-10 beatdown of a NewYork media darling put us in the AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans.

Not to sound like a complete homer or anything, but that year’s AFC title game may have been one of the more underrated conference title games in my lifetime.  You had two veteran teams that one had to presume was their last shot at getting to if not winning a Super Bowl.  Naturally,this one was a back and forth heavyweight championship fight with the Raiders clinging to a 27-24 lead going into the 4th quarter.  Gannon leads a drive down to the Titans 2 yard line where we get to 3rd and goal.  As Gannon looks back to pass, he can’t find an open receiver so he takes off to the right pylon and scores.  34-24 Raiders.  It was at that point where I knew we were finally going to the Super Bowl.

It’s still too soon for me to talk about Super Bowl XXXVII, but I’ll address the question of whether or not Tim Brown was right and Bill Callahan did “sabotage” the team by changing the gameplangoing into that game.  Here goes:

1. The debate I have been reading among Raider fans who have Internet access is that running the ball against a team like Tampa would have been more effective, because when our offenseabsolutely had to run the ball that year, it succeeded.  Now, I’m not totally convinced of that but when you’re all out of sleeping pills and you have to be to work in four hours, this will have to suffice.

2. Callahan is too quisling to really pull something like that off.  I mean, I don’t care how much you hate your job, if winning one more game wins you a world championship of professional football, suck it up and take the millions of dollars and millions of ladies that will come your way.  Besides, if Callahan was setting out to throw a Super Bowl, do you think Al would have let him coach the 2003 season?

3. Then there’s the whole Barret Robbins v. Terry Kirby thing.  I’ve written about this recently where legend has it, what set off Robbins’ bender in Tijuana was his wife cheating on him in the team hotel with Terry Kirby.  There are large swaths of Raider fans who have either never heard about it or don’t think it’s true, but for me it’s a “truth is stranger than fiction” kind of thing.  I’m sure I’ll get a reply to a tweet or a comment about “I can assure you that it didn’t happen”, when I can find stories from others where the exact opposite is true.

In any event, pretty much nothing good has happened since then for us.  And if any of you reply “well, at least Al died”…look, we went 4-12 in our first year without him.  So I don’t want to hear it.

This week, I’m going to try something different, since I’m trying to not talk about the debacle against Stanford on Sunday night.  If you’re looking to avoid working at all this week, here’s a few things to kill time:

Here’s how Google is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pacman:

I think I played it for at least an hour after a coworker told me about it.

-Oh, look, Niner fans are trying to be like us.  Far as I’m concerned, Niner fan, you clowns can have that distinction.

-Salt Lake has Gordon Monson who is only responsible for trolling Ute fans into outrage.  Well, the Bay Area has the legendary Ray Ratto.  Unlike Monson, who is clearly on the side of the denizens of that one little school in Utah County, Ratto is an equal opportunity skeptic, as indicated by his column about Steph Curry being snubbed from the All-Star team this year.

MAC Thoughts

The Sun will come up tomorrow

You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar

There Will Be Sun…

Oh hey didn’t see you come in there.  I was trying to somehow become a Larry-ite.  But I’m not sure how to do it as I can see having faith in our Lord and Savior but I require some proof for our basketball coaches.

As for that Raider Super Bowl, and I’d never heard the Robbins’ wife banging Terry Kirby thing, I think that your goose was cooked when that happened.  Look back at Super Bowls past.  Was it Eugene Robinson who went looking for a $20 BJ the night before the Falcons played the Broncos?  And the Falcons looked terrible.  Remember what happened when Thurman Thomas forgot his helmet?  I think their is something to having your week disrupted in that kind of atmosphere that just kills you.  Plus Chuckie kind of knew you like the back of his hand, combine the two and…

BTW, just as I was writing this I found out that J.J. O’Brien was MWC player of the week.  Really God, what did Utah Basketball do to you.  What more must we give.  I mean a home freaking loss to Stanford and the guy who should be our star doing it for another team.  Yeah thanks for that.  Really,

Ok, I don’t know what the hell else to write about.  So I’m going to say something really dumb in the face of what is going on with basketball.  I am really starting to get on board with football.  We’re bringing in an offensive guy to mentor BJ.  We have a great recruiting class coming in.  Our offensive line will be an order of magnitude better better.  And we have D-1 QB’s although young, coming out the ying yang.  No Lance Rice’s here .

So that is my lost my mind rant to start this one.  Also it turns out the Caps suck.  If the Angels suck, well screw it.  BTW, I’m going to become a fan of the new SUPERSONICS.  That will be my team.  In fact I hope they trade for Steph Curry.

And with that I offer it back to you.

Raider Thoughts

Given how jaded I tend to be about football, why don’t I take this opportunity to discuss the 2013 schedule in some detail.

Does it seem to you like it might to me that this has the potential to be a very difficult schedule?  Consider:

–While we don’t leave the state of Utah until the middle of October, look at who we play in the interim.  USU ought to be a winnable game, but we said that last year.  Stanford and UCLA come here, and I can’t assume right now that Oregon State will be that much worse than last year.  So all of the sudden, BYU in Provo might become a “must-win” in the sense that if things do go sideways like they did last year in Logan, we could be in real trouble.

–ASU comes here in the first week of November.  Thank you Superman!  If there was one chance we had in at the very least not getting run off the field by those guys, this would be it.  I hope.

–I also owe a big thank you very much to the persons responsible for moving the CU game to a Saturday, because you really don’t want to compete against one of this state’s favorite contact sports: mall shopping on Black Friday.  This also depends on what kind of team we will have and what we will be playing for going into that game, but for now, rejoice!

–Based on that, if we have more than four wins going into the Arizona game, I might an attempt a cartwheel without breaking a major body part.  And this also means that you are going to have to talk me into a peaceful, easy feeling going into this football season once again.

As a completely vain side note, I am typing this on my iPad that I got for my birthday.  Seeing as how I’m not made of money, every single Apple product I have ever owned has been a gift for either Christmas or my birthday.  But what has caused me to lean more toward being an Apple fan is that most of their products are very user friendly.  Believe me, the relief of being able to use a piece of technology without having to find an IT guy to figure out how it works is incredible.

I remember being drunk very early on the day of the AFC title game that year and a few of my fellow very nervous Raider fans were discussing who we wanted to play should we make the Super Bowl.  Almost unanimously, Philly was the choice, and it was for the exact reason you described.  Against just about anyone in the NFC that year except Tampa–Philly, the Giants, even the Niners despite the fact Jeff Garcia almost singlehandedly beat us earlier that year–that game is a coronation and Al would have made a grandiose declaration about the greatness of that team.  Somehow I feel cheated having never heard that speech.

Just as I was reading over your reply, Steph Curry tweaked his ankle in the Warriors game against the Raptors.  Luckily, the one the only Andrew Bogut made his return as well, but Steph is now a gametime decision for the Cleveland game tonight (Tuesday).  With as often as Curry gets hurt, I can’t help but wonder if he is a distant relative of Darnell Arcenaux.

As a Raider fan, I’ve gotten used to former players doing well and often playing better once they leave the East Bay.  So you have to handle the glory of J.J. O’Brien by either a) blaming the player by saying he wasn’t worth the contract or letter of intent that he signed, or b) blame Al for it in the case of Marcus Allen.  So if you want to go there and blame Dr. Hill, I’m not going to stop you.

Before I hand this off to you, I must ask you as a Wyoming kid if you ever had a malt at Yellowstone Drug in Shoshoni.  Clearly it must be a rite of passage because the “I Had A Malt At Yellowstone Drug” bumper stickers were everywhere in town when I was a teenager.

MAC Thoughts

I have indeed had a malt there, in fact I believe it is part of the citizenship test.  The ice cream at the Farson General Store is more like one of those cool clubs in New York were you have to know what you’re doing to have had it.  At least it’s what I tell myself.  BTW have you ever been up to Pinedale and that area around the Green River Lakes?  I spent half my child hood up there.  Whisky Grove Camp Ground Represent!!!!!

Truthfully it’s getting harder and harder to to get all that passionate about basketball.  Before the season, the Larry-ites called me an idiot for saying we might not win a national title.  Now they’re pissed off at me that I was right.  We’re going to have our third roster purge in three years under Larry, which means I don’t know what.  We’re like Coach Cal at Kentucky except for the winning.

BTW how do you feel about the phenomena that is Marshall Henderson right now.  See my column here  if you’ve missed anything this season?

As for this season, the first thing that I like is we have 4 QB’s that are actual D-1 talent.  That is 2-4 more than we’ve had for much of the time you and I have known each other.  Remember when our options where a crippled Darnell Arceneaux or Lance Freakin Rice or TD Crowshaw?  Wow that is hard to believe.  Remember Johnathon Crosswhite, cause that guy was awful too.  Man, I’m starting to get a migrane.

But much of my belief of getting better comes from a few things.  First the O-line will be a light year better.  Consistency at o-line and QB make it much easier to call plays.  Next we played a lot of young talent at linebacker last year, that will start to pay this year.  And honestly we haven’t had a lot of breaks go our way, I think we’re starting to come do.  And truthfully I think 2014 will be very special for us.  Man this Kool Aid is good, Grape and Cherry mixed together, WOW.  Let me take one more swig and in our final response I’ll explain how playing Oregon and Stanford is actually better for us.  I’m a believer.

Finally, there is a snag in my becoming a Sonics fan for next year and that is Jimmer.  While I don’t hate the Jimmer and he was far less douchy than any BYU athlete I can remember, I am hesitant to start cheering for him.  What say ye?  Is the fact that he’ll be released in two years/the Jazz will trade multiple first round picks for him enough to allow this Sonics plan to continue?

Finally, a question and I don’t mean it too be cruel.  Does the phrase, “tuck rule” still cause you to have seizures?  I only ask because if that ruling doesn’t happen, do we still have to deal with all this Tom Brady crap?

Raider Thoughts

Quite a few Ute fans may snicker when I say this, but I kind of liked Marshall Henderson.  Maybe it was due to the fact that he reminded me of myself at that age, or it could be that a mutual friend of ours thought he was my doppelgänger.  Whatever the case may be, there was very good entertainment value with Henderson, and that more than anything is what is sorely lacking with Utah basketball right now.  Really, this goes back to the piss poor way the U has marketed itself over the years, and I just realized that I dovetailed from your original point.  And marketing this university and its athletics is an argument I can have at a moment’s notice.

You speak of the Arcenaux’s and Crosswhite’s and the other ghosts of Utah football’s past, but answer me this: why was it so difficult for McBride to find a quarterback after Mike McCoy?  Think  of guys like Stevonne Smith (oh, sorry, that would be Steve Smith to you Carolina Panthers fans) and Cliff Russell just to throw out a few examples.  If they hadn’t had the Island of Misfit QBs throwing to them, who knows how much better things would have been, especially for Russell.  It seems mysterious to me that it took until Brett Elloitt, when Mac was on his way out, for a quarterback to pan out here.

Before you latch on to the new Sonics, consider the way the old Sonics left.  Did anyone in the entire state of Washington even notice they left until OKC made it to the NBA Finals last year?  I am just getting a visual of some poor sap in Everett or Tacoma getting up and reading his Seattle P-I and saying “hmmmm…might rain today…Mariners might win today, got King Felix on the mound…wait, what the hell?….the Miami Heat are playing a team in Oklahoma in the NBA Finals…they used to be the Sonics??!?!  Noooooooooooo!”

Incidentally, during the Finals last season, I saw a guy here in downtown Salt Lake of all places with a shirt that read:

“Kemp & Payton > Durant & Westbrook”

Choose your fandom wisely.

Truth be told, that damn game against the Pats still bothers me.  I always have to realize that I go into a weird cranky demeanor every time I think about it, so I am going to take a day or so, gather my thoughts and do a separate entry on it, if for no other reason than to put it into some kind of perspective.

I shall wrap this one up by reminding those of you here in Utah that if you think you have teetotalers here, it could be worse.  You could be San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, who admonished bars in the City to not serve “heavy alcohol” on Super Bowl Sunday.  Somewhere at the DABC, they are all laughing at Mayor Lee.

MAC Thoughts

I was in Western Washington when it came out that the lying piece of crap Clay Bennett was taking the team to Okie Land.  People cared a lot more than you estimate.  Seattle supported the Sonics, its just that there were a lot of problems.  First, they hadn’t won in FOREVER.  Next, the Key was a terrible arena with a terrible lease and everyone agreed.  It also had no parking and was a general pain in the ass to get to.

Bennett had agreed to allow Seattle to come up with a new arena deal, and they had, then that lying piece of crap backed out.  Now a new arena by Safeco and whatever the hell the football stadium is now, well that will work.

Besides I get to start bitching about Jimmer and demanding his trade.  This is so WIN WIN for me.

Don’t forget, we fell ass backwards into Mike McCoy when George Allen died causing Long Beach St. to drop football.  BTW, also on that Long Beach St. team was Terrell Davis.  George Allen knew him some football.  As for QB’s, well they don’t want to hand off for 93 straight plays then throw a bomb.  Hence you get Lance Rice.  Although if Darnell Arceneaux hadn’t been made of balsa wood, I think he’d have been very very good.

As for Marshall, well I get why they dumped him.  Chris Hill lied to Boylen and said he had 2 years after the Henderson year to make it.  If he had one, maybe Jim goes to both Carlon and Marshall sits them down and tries to make it work.  Who knows.  That being said, I think Utah fans especially the super basketbally fans tend to much more like BYU than we really want to admit.  So when you have a kid who doesn’t conform, they really turn on him.

In fact I’ll leave this with a greater question, if Jim Boylen was from say, Idaho, played at Montana St. and spent a year or two with the Jazz at some point, would all of these Larry-ites suddenly have found the wonder in his coaching they seem to with Larry?