Raiders

Case to jury, Bonds awaits verdict

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Case to jury, Bonds awaits verdict

April 7, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Making a final appeal to jurors before they decide whether Barry Bonds lied about taking steroids, defense attorney Allen Ruby offered a simple explanation Thursday for why the government has spent years pursuing the home run king: "He was Barry."Bonds is charged with lying to a grand jury during a Dec. 4, 2003, session when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs and said no one but his doctors gave him an injection of any kind. He was indicted more than three years ago.Ruby told the jury during his closing argument that two prosecutors attempted to "intimidate" Bonds during that 2003 court appearance by switching places 36 times to question the slugger."The prosecutors were being very cagey," said Ruby, alleging the government lawyers were attempting to confuse and humiliate Bonds. Ruby said the prosecutors failed _ and they were angered by Bonds' demeanor."He was not intimidated," Ruby said. "A lot of the venom in the government's pursuit here was because he wasn't intimidated. He was not subservient. He was Barry."BACH: Bonds trial on crash course with home opener
Ruby said witness accounts that made it sound as if Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, may have injected the baseball star numerous times were simply "made up" by Bonds' enemies.Ruby followed Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow to the lectern Thursday. Earlier, Nedrow opened his closing argument by urging the jury of eight women and four men to find Bonds guilty."All he had to do was tell the truth," Nedrow said in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston. "He chose not to tell the truth and that's why he's here."Bonds is charged with three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice. Bonds, owner of the major league records for home runs in a career and a season, told the grand jury in 2003 that Anderson misled him into taking designer steroids by calling them flaxseed oil and arthritis cream.Nedrow told the jury that Bonds' story was obviously false because the former baseball star was a rich, professional athlete who paid close attention to his body."He makes 17 million a year and doesn't know what he's taking," Nedrow rhetorically asked the jury. "That's his account and it's an account that's false."MOSKOWITZ: Strong statement for the defense WednesdayNedrow alleged that Bonds lied about his drug use because he wanted to keep it from his famous father, former Major League Baseball player Bobby Bonds and from his team, the San Francisco Giants."The defendant had a secret and he didn't want his dad to know about it," Nedrow said. Bobby Bonds died of cancer in 2003.Dressed in a dark blue suit, Bonds leaned forward at the defense table and occasionally sipped from a water bottle during closing arguments. He sat attentively between two of his lawyers as Nedrow discussed the testimony of Bonds' former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, and his estranged best friend and ex-business partner, Steve Hoskins. Bell testified about physical and behavioral changes she witnessed during her nine years with Bonds, including hair loss, acne, shrunken testicles and mood swings. Nedrow alleged those were side effects of steroid use.Nedrow played a recording Hoskins secretly made of a conversation he had with Anderson. Hoskins testified that he made the recording in 2003 to prove to Bonds' father that his son was using steroids. Nedrow said the recording shows the two men discussing injecting Bonds with designer steroids.Hoskins "cared about the defendant," Nedrow said. "He was worried about the dangerous effects of the drugs."The defense team contends that Hoskins made the recording in an attempt to extort Bonds. In early 2003, Bonds accused Hoskins of selling memorabilia without Bonds' permission. Bonds severed his business relationship with Hoskins and also asked the FBI to investigate Hoskins.As closing arguments stretched into the afternoon, Bonds' attorney Cristina Arguedas attempted to discredit Bell by saying that she "committed perjury" when she exaggerated the shrinkage of Bonds' testicles during her appearance before the grand jury. Arguedas also pointed out that Bell posed nude for Playboy and appeared on Howard Stern's raunchy radio talk show.Ruby wrapped up his closing argument by urging jurors to dismiss testimony about the size of Bonds' head, which grew while he played for the Giants. Prosecutors argued head growth was a side effect of steroid use. Ruby said that there is no scientific proof that steroid use leads to head growth."This business about Barry's head getting bigger, to use a legal term, is stupid," Ruby said. "All this head lie has done is to demonize Barry Bonds."Bonds' trial, now in its 12th day, has generally attracted little interest locally but the San Francisco courtroom where the case is being tried was packed on Thursday with spectators and media.

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

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Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night:

1. Back from the brink

The Raiders are still under .500. They face an uphill climb getting back into playoff consideration following a crippling four-game losing streak.

Still. 3-4 is a whole heck of a lot better than the alternative.

“Yeah, 2-5 did not sound good,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That made our stomach hurt. We wanted to come out here and get a big win. This is a big win. For our team, especially with the adversity we’ve gone through.”

The Raiders looked lost during their downturn, when a loaded offense averaged 13.1 points per game. They fell to 14th in the AFC and last in their division. Perceived strengths proved suspect. Everything was called into question.

If the Raiders were drowning, Thursday was that point in the movie where the hero reappears taking a huge, dramatic breath.

The Raiders are alive again, especially in beating the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. There’s work ahead to make it more than a really fun night, but Thursday proved their survival instincts are still keen.

“It felt good,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I wish it would have happened a few weeks ago. We wouldn’t be sitting here like that. You all would have been talking like ‘OK, we’re on a run.' I’m glad to get things going.

“I told them today I was going to go out there and let it rip. I told some other guys to go out there and let it rip. This offense was trying to be too perfect. We had high hopes going into the season when we started, then we hit adversity. We couldn’t find a way to get out of there fast enough. Now we’re getting out of this, but we have to keep it going. One thing we have been doing is we’ve been working as hard as we do every week. It’s starting to pay off.”

2. Dormant volcano erupts

The Raiders offense was horrible four straight games. The season’s first two games proved what a loaded unit can do when functioning well, but those efforts got lost in a wash of bad play.

An MVP-caliber quarterback’s play was openly questioned for the first time. So was a bright young coordinator taking shrapnel for the team’s misgivings. Averaging 13 points per game will make a fan base an angry mob. The offense grossly underperformed, but raw talent didn’t diminish.

Production was hot lava, bubbling underneath the surface. It erupted on Thursday night, with the previously cautious Raiders offense opened up and consistently took yards in chunks.

In doing so, a lost offense may have found an identity, a fallback: The Raiders can flat out sling it.

Quarterback Derek Carr was throwing darts all over the field, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 8.0 yards per pass play and, at times, threw people open or allowed receivers to make a play in tight coverage.

Pass catchers certainly did that. Amari Cooper had 11 catches for 210 and two scores. Tight end Jared Cook had six receptions for 107 yards. Michael Crabtree only had 24 yards, but snagged the game-deciding touchdown.

It felt and looked like the Raiders offense everyone expected each week, finally back on track. That was clear after Carr threw Amari Cooper a touchdown pass the first two drives.

“We struggled to do a lot of things over the last month,” Carr said. “To start fast, again I think that gives life to a team. That’s a sense of hope, which we always have and belief and those kind of things, but to start fast, it always just gives your team a little boost at the beginning that you have to have.”

In previous weeks, the Raiders were wound too tight. They strived for perfection and failed to attain anything close. They just let loose, and went for it. An offense with no TNT blew up, to the tune of six explosive plays.

“We got so many weapons, we got so many explosive athletes on our offense but just in these last four games that we loss we were just so out of whack,” running back Jalen Richard said. “It was little stuff here and there, technical, maybe a missed assignment here and there. Guys were doing their thing, guys were playing hard. We believed the whole game even when we got down a little bit. We pulled through and got the win.”

3. Return of the 2016 Raiders

Last season’s Raiders owned the fourth quarter. They generated seven come-from-behind victories last season thanks to offensive magic and timely defense.

That’s how they erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Kansas City. They never wavered, even in tough times. The defense provided opportunity. With two minutes remaining, the offense got it done.

Derek Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the second straight untimed down brought on by defensive penalty.

That moment produced great emotion. It should’ve after completing one of the wildest comebacks in franchise history. The drive itself, however, was clinical.

The Raiders believed they would score. They expected it.

"There was no panic, or anxiety or anything like that,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We were going to get the job done. There was never, ever any doubt.”

That’s exactly what last year’s Raiders did. On the regular. They couldn’t respond well to adversity in recent games. They found their magic on Thursday night.

Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

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Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

In case you were asking, and you shouldn’t have been because this game deserves to be savored a bit longer, it’s December 10.
 
That’s when the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders play each other again, in case Thursday night wasn’t good enough for you.

You philistines.

And while there are some folks who won’t be happy (those who like the Chiefs or bet the Chiefs), there won’t be a more magnificently bizarre game this NFL season – because these two teams are exactly that.
 
Bizarre.
 
The Chiefs, who two weeks ago were the best team in football as voted on by the instant punditocracy, made enough mistakes in the last two minutes of Thursday’s 31-30 defeat to lose 47-10.
 
And the Raiders did the same, capped off by Marshawn Lynch’s gloriously Oaklandish reaction to fellow citizen Marcus Peters’ late hit on Derek Carr – namely, “I got your rules and your respect for officials right here!”
 
But in the end – the glorious, bizarre, untimed end – the Raiders saved themselves from pre-Halloween doom, the Chiefs reverted to the team you can never fully trust, and the rest of the NFL can only shake its collective neckless head in wonderment at the power of the old American Football League.
 
Because that, ultimately, is what this was – a game out of time. This was a throwback game, all the way back to the mid- to late-60s, when the Raiders and Chiefs hated each other not out of historical duty but out of genuine solar-generated animosity. When they both played as though their cars were being looted in the parking lot, and when 750-yard combined passing nights were actually not that unusual. They were hell-bent then, and Thursday showed that they still have that bent in their DNA even now.
 
This was that era, played out in a way that old Raider and Chiefs fans can tell their grandchildren, “Now you’re sitting there scratching your head and all, but I’m telling you that used to happen all the time. You think Marcus Peters was bad? Google Ben Davidson on Len Dawson, little Tad.”
 
And it ended the only way it could for the good of the rivalry – with Oakland winning, and in the most staggeringly improbable way.
 
Not because the Raiders are more noble human beings or a superior life form from a time long ago, but because that December 10 game needs to mean something. The Raiders needed to win Thursday because losing meant their playoff hopes would be deservedly dead, and their remaining nine games would be reduced to competitive afterthoughts, and the year would be reduced to wondering why what should have been never came close to happening.
 
And the Chiefs needed to lose because running away with a division this difficult just seems wrong. There is nothing that says Kansas City isn’t better than Denver, or Oakland or the Fightin’ StubHubs, but it shouldn’t be this easy. The Patriots may have eaten the AFC East and spit the bones into a dumpster long ago, but the AFC West clung harder to its AFL roots than the East ever did.
 
And Thursday was the evidence required to show that, at least for the Chiefs and Raiders, the old days can be recreated with a keen eye for the most malevolent details and the most bizarre turns of fortune.
 
Call it nostalgia on crank – seemingly the only thing we have left that can bond the generations in these otherwise mean-spirited days.