This is probably not the image you want to see first thing, but if you want a state of where one of the NFL’s most notable franchises is, look no further than the void in this aged, craggy mug.
Most firings of coaches involve very somber, quick, and relatively fireworks-free press condferences. But, this is Al Davis and these are the Oakland Raiders, so all the rules go out the window. The Cryptkeeper spent the majority of his press conference berating Lane Kiffin, accusing him of lying and basically setting out hte case he plans to use in front of Roger Goodell in order to keep from paying the now-fired coach the rest of the money owed on his contract.
While watching this first half (I had to go to work before the second part unfolded, the one where, oh yeah, offensive line coach Tom Cable got to take over the sinking ship), all I could think of was how utterly pathetic, how petty and vendictive the whole matter was — and then had to ask why anyone with any form of sanity would consent to coaching the Raiders, even on an interim basis. When Kiffin spoke with ESPN afterwards, saying he was embarrassed to even be associated with it and felt embarrassment for Davis, the whole day’s events reached another, unforeseen, and completely sad level of self-parody for a man who did so much actual good for professional football.
Davis was the AFL Commissioner in 1966, when the league was on the way up and rivaling the NFL (he had been against the merger.) He hired the first Latino head coach in Tom Flores and first black head coach in Art Shell. He was a thorn in the side of then-commissioner Pete Rozelle, when NFL ownership needed a thorn in its side coming from its own.
That’s why it’s particularly difficult to observe this act straight out of King Lear, a patriarch gone mad, concerned about holding on to power to preserve his legacy while diminishing it at the same time. Davis has repeatedly stated that he wants to remain in charge of the Raiders’ day-to-day operations and has stated his goal is to win two more Super Bowls before retiring.
He will die first.