I’m taking a bet on this since I don’t read him all that regularly, but San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami is probably a bit of a dick. Most newspaper columnists have opinionated takes that tend to verge on the obnoxious a lot of the time. They get readers this way that either love them or hate them, and that’s usually how it goes.
Sadly, WordPress is not good with video not from Google or YouTube, thus, I can’t embed the little confrontation Kawakami had with Raiders senior exec John Herrera right here, but thankfully, the Merc’s online staff has seen fit to put it at the end of his latest column.
The basic background is that someone in the Raiders’ org circulated a column critical of coach Lane Kiffin on ESPN.com, and in a press conference yesterday where everyone thought Coach Lunch Money was going to get the ax, Kawakami asked a question about feeling isolated in the organization — which prodded Herrera to interrupt Kiffin’s response, and then the little side skirmish on the video.
Kiffin isn’t absolved of all responsibility in this soap opera — he has been insolent towards owner Al Davis and cavalier about his attitude, but if you’re working in what appears to be a completely dysfunctional structure, who can blame him? He’s going to have to answer these questions every Monday until the Cryptkeeper fires him — which will be a mistake, because Kiffin is probably the best coach the organization has hired since Jon Gruden rightfully bailed.
Bill Callahan may have taken Gruden’s leftovers to a Super Bowl, but they tanked after the infamous Tuck Rule call. (Horrendously wrong, see “JusttheFacts” in comments.) Norv Turner was, well, NORV! Art Shell 2.0 was disastrous. Kiffin is actually coaching the offensive side of the team up and trying to build with a quarterback in JaMarcus Russell who is clearly taking the reins before being even close to ready. To be that close against the Bills on Sunday was much, much closer than any of us would have given the Raiders credit for.
What Davis is doing, by letting this drag out, is ensuring a coach who will be happy to wreak vengeance every time he faces him again. Mike Shanahan does it, Gruden does it, and Kiffin, who will likely get another NFL job somewhere down the road, will do it.
But for now, we get to watch the dysfunction as it spills out, and for now, it’s entertaining, if in a very sad way.