Sunday, October 5, 2008

A closer look inside Raiders HQ

I made my way towards the back of Rickey's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, California. I had been receiving mysterious messages on my voicemail for several weeks now, all leading up to this encounter with a source who claimed he knew the secrets of Raiders HQ.

I spotted my contact seated at a table eating beer battered onion rings and drinking Lagunitas Copper Ale, an excellent choice. I knew I was in good company.

"I would be eating the wings but you know, first of all they're from Buffalo and second, they're messy as all get out", my source remarked.

The waitresses at Rickey's wasted no time. I ordered a Jack n' coke and a refill for my new friend.

"John Herrera would never betray Al Davis. That is Raider sacrilege. He's not the leak at Raiders HQ" my source dove head first into the topics at hand.

I have to admit, I have given my initial theory more thought and sort of regret pinning the leak on Herrera simply because he seemed like the obvious choice.

Why would loyal Team Al guys talk to a guy like Chris Mortensen? Everyone knows Mortensen is not respected. Why not go to someone they respect at least?

"It wasn't Mike Taylor either" the source said as he polished off his Lagunitas Copper Ale and thanked me for the refill.

"It was Kiffin" he said flatly, as if it was obvious all along.

He was right. I was hoodwinked. It was Kiffin. Though why would Kiffin be so forthcoming with media guys about his imminent firing?

Because Kiffin has always been clueless with the media. He has no tact. Mortensen and Jay Glazer probably got in touch with Kiffin, not the other way around. Doh! I goofed in my initial analysis.

"Don't worry, it's happened to the best of them. Al has had newspaper men chasing their tales for forty years now." source said.

"So let me ask you something" I said, "What about Al's professional liar remark from his last press conference?"

Mike Taylor is a man of few words but his long standing incredibly effective stealth as Public Relations director came to an abrupt end with a two word e-mail to a newspaper man, stating "Yes, Chris"

"Yes" as in validating Al was in fact calling Mortensen a professional liar, not Kiffin.

It is entirely possible the leak was inadvertent as starts and stalls with Al actually following through. It is possible a Team Al member was simply reporting what they knew at the time.

Team Al is:

Al Davis
Jeff Birren, chief legal counsel for over 20 years.
John Herrera, senior executive with extensive job security within the organization
Mike Taylor, public relations man

"So we can rule out Team Al feeding info to Mortensen as some clever misinformation campaign?" I sheepishly asked.

"Well, you can never rule anything out but you'll notice Mort's scoops have come only during Kiffin's reign." source affirmed.

We continued to hash out theories for the next hour and a half. I gladly absorbed the bar tab as his insight poured forth. Finally, his cell phone alarm was triggered.

"I have to run. Thanks for the beers. We'll find out if you, me or Al is full of shit if Mortensen gets any scoops in the Tom Cable era"

And with those closing remarks, we all move into the next phase of the Raiders 2008 season.

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