Raiders

Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud

al_davis_marcus_allen_raiders_v11.jpg

Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud

ALAMEDA -- From the moment Marcus Allen returned to the Raiders in September to light the Al Davis memorial flame, I wondered if this more recent vintage of Raider fan realized just how big of a deal it was at the time.

After all, the Allen-Davis feud of the late 1980's and early 1990s was the dominant storyline as the team called Los Angeles home. The rookie of the year, Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP had been chained to the bench and reduced to a blocking fullback in Davis' doghouse. The eventual comeback player of the year, with Kansas City in 1993, was reduced to playing bit roles behind the likes of Bo Jackson, Greg Bell, Roger Craig and Eric Dickerson in his last seasons with the Raiders.

And while tonight's NFL Network documentary "Marcus Allen: A Football Life" covers the entirety of his football playing career, from Lincoln High School in San Diego to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1981 at USC to being the Raiders' first-round draft choice in 1982, to his finishing up in Kansas City, what is most intriguing to Raiders fans is the part that delves into the feud.

Former assistant Terry Robiskie spoke of inserting Allen into a 1989 game the Raiders trailed the Cardinals by five points and at the four-yard line late. Robiskie knew playing Allen was against Davis' wishes.

"Not to get yelled at and screamed at and fussed at, I took my headset off," Robiskie said with a laugh.

"I got a little slap on the face, saying, 'Hey, we wasn't supposed to do that. I thought we wasn't going to put him him.' But good thing we did; we won the game…those guys' battles was bigger than us."

[REWIND: Marcus Allen to light Al Davis flame]

Allen remembered the aftermath.

"Going back to the locker room...Al gave me a dirty look, which was the strangest thing in the world because you figure you want to win the game, regardless of who does it," Allen said. "But it was just another awkward situation. The animosity was pretty thick around there."

Allen also spoke of the Raiders continually bringing in those other players to take time from him.

"I don't think there's been any great running back in the league that has ever had to share the position with that many great running backs," Allen said.

"There was a time that I came into camp fourth string. I'm in the Hall of Fame, by the way, but I came into camp fourth string, I just want you to know that."

Said Robiskie: "How did he end up falling from one to fourth (on the depth chart)? Now that came from the top."

The documentary, on the heels of last week's ESPN 30-for-30 production on Bo Jackson, is clean and seamless. Allen, though, never addresses exactly why he and Davis were at loggerheads.

"(Al) felt at some point that Marcus was getting bigger than the Raiders and he had a hard time with that because it was always about the Raiders," former Raiders executive Ron Wolf said. "Whatever the split was, that caused that."

Of course, the most scandalous theory out there, and given renewed life by Murray Olderman's new book, "Just Win, Baby, The Al Davis Story," is that Davis disapproved of Allen's relationship with O.J. Simpson and his inner circle.

"I never quite understood what made things go bad," Allen said. "To me the whole thing was a waste of great talent and energy. If you don't like me, let me go. And I never understood that. Let me go play football someplace else. Now, if you love power, I can understand why you keep me there.

"I think of what could have been, the perfect marriage in Los Angeles with the Raiders. It just didn't turn out to be. And it was, it was a shame."

Others interviewed in the documentary include Allen's parents, Harold and Gwendolyn, Marty Schottenheimer, Ronnie Lott, John Robinson, Howie Long, Al Michaels, Jim Plunkett and Matt Millen.

"I spent 25 seasons with the Raiders," Wolf said. "Of all the players that ever came through during the time that I was there, somebody has to be No. 1. Marcus Allen was No. 1. He's the best player during my time with the Raiders that I've ever seen."

The story, like the documentary, played out with Allen finishing with the Chiefs. In fact, it was with the Chiefs that Allen went 9-1 against the Raiders and became the first player in NFL history with 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards.

"I never thought about getting back (at Davis and the Raiders)," Allen claimed. "Never. Never once, You've got to understand, I loved the guys that I played with and I was always conflicted in that regard.

"I don't hate the Raiders. I don't hate the helmet. I don't hate the colors. I don't hate anybody. I didn't even hate Al. We had a disagreement and life is too short to dwell on it, and you move on."

The documentary premiers at 5 p.m. PT on NFL Network.

Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’

gruden-lynch-ap.jpg
AP

Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’

Jon Gruden asked to speak with Marshawn Lynch several times but got turned down.

His job title earned an automatic veto. The enigmatic running back doesn’t talk to the press, even a Monday Night Football analyst with Gruden’s street cred. No production meetings, no insight flowing outside the inner circle.

Lynch must honor the next request. Gruden’s his boss, after all.

“I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him,” the new Raiders head coach said Tuesday during his introductory press conference. “We’ll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can’t wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did. I think he loves Oakland. I think he loves the Raiders and guys like him interest me, so I’m looking forward to talking to him.”

The veteran running back and Oakland native has a year left on a two-year deal struck last April. The 2018 payouts, per overthecap.com, include a $4 million base salary, a $250,000 workout bonus, a $1 million roster bonus and $750,000 in per-game roster bonuses. There are also significant performance-based incentives.

Marshawn is under contract, but also has some say in this matter. He could post an image of cleats hanging on a telephone wire like he did after the 2016 Super Bowl and call it a career. Lynch made it clear in a rare press conference that he didn’t miss football. He returned for the opportunity to play in front of a East Bay community he champions and bring attention to his significant charitable efforts.

There are several possible outcomes from the Gruden/Lynch tete-a-tete. Gruden might not consider him worth the while. Lynch may walk away, for good this time. Or, the two could traverse 2018 together.

Predicting Marshawn’s movements is a fool’s errand. We can, however, make an educated pros and cons list. Let’s take a look at some factors influencing the ultimate outcome.

PROS

-- The phrase in Gruden’s last sentence above may have tipped his hand: “Guys like him interest me.” Lynch is an intense presence, one of his generation’s most physical runners. Gruden can use on-field talents like him, though it’s uncertain whether he’s a perfect fit in an offense that has certainly evolved during nine years in the broadcast booth.

Also, Gruden loves Oakland. Lynch loves Oakland. That may be a good starting point.

-- Marshawn still has it. The 31-year old was the Raiders’ most productive skill player in 2017’s second half. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the last season games, totaling 625 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He also had at least 92 yards total offense in five of those contests. When he’s motivated and healthy – he didn’t miss a single practice with injury – Lynch can be a force on the ground

-- Gruden reportedly hired Tom Cable as offensive line coach a few days back. That’s probably a plus from Lynch’s perspective. Cable was Seattle offensive line coach, and heavily involved in the running game, during Lynch’s best seasons. He ran a system that fit Lynch well, though Gruden said schemes will be based around team strengths. Lynch and Cable reportedly get along well, and could be a major reason why Lynch finds it appetizing to return.

-- Lynch carried locker room clout. Last year’s coaching staff didn’t love him, but player certainly did.

CONS

-- Lynch comes with some baggage. He’s an eccentric sort who does his own thing, at times without regard for small rules. That may rub Gruden and staff the wrong way. It certainly bothered Del Rio’s crew, especially when he seemed to have his own set of rules.

The Raiders tolerated Lynch’s choice to sit during the national anthem all year, despite being vocal against such actions the year before. He also had a production crew following him around quite often, especially in camp.

He got suspended for sticking up for the other team in Week 7, protecting great friend, Oakland native and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters in an on-field altercation. He then practiced with his old high school during the suspension.

Gruden may not love the prospect of dealing with extra weight, depending on how strict he plans to be during this coaching tenure.

-- Lynch turns 32 in April. While Lynch might be an exception, running backs often fall off a production cliff in their early 30s. Can the Raiders get good value from Lynch at that age, knowing full well another running back might be added to the roster?

-- Lynch may simply not be into another year in Oakland. He enjoyed taking 2016 off, travelling the world and increasing charitable and business endeavors. Is his drive still strong?

Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff

cable-ap.jpg
AP

Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff

Jon Gruden isn’t the only Raiders head coach returning to the Silver and Black.

Tom Cable’s on the way, albeit in a lesser role. Gruden already has the top job. Cable’s coming back, NFL Network reported Saturday afternoon, as offensive line coach.

He occupied that role in Oakland from 2007 until he assumed the head coach role when Lane Kiffin was fired five games into the 2008 season. The interim tag was lifted in 2009, and he coached the Raiders to an 8-8 record in 2010.

He followed that feat with the now famous quote, “We’re not losers anymore.” The Raiders had seven straight losing seasons before finishing .500 in what would be Cable’s last season with the club. He was 17-27 in two-plus seasons as Raiders head coach.

He went to Seattle after that, and spent seven seasons as Seahawks assistant head coach in charge of the offensive line. He also worked extensively with Marshawn Lynch during the rusher’s salad days in Seattle.

Cable returning to the Raiders seemed highly unlikely after late owner Al Davis detailed Cable’s misgivings in a post-firing press conference. Cable was allegedly involved in a 2009 incident where then Raiders assistant Randy Hanson was left with a broken jaw. ESPN also aired a report where three women accused Cable of domestic violence. One of Cable’s accusers sued Cable and named the Raiders as a co-defendant. Davis docked Cable’s pay in relation to that litigation.

Cable is a respected position coach, though the Seahawks offensive line has fallen on hard times. He and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were fired after a disappointing season where the Seahawks missed the postseason.

Offensive line coach was a top priority as Gruden built a staff. Cable is known for using a zone blocking scheme, though it remains uncertain what he’ll use in Oakland with a powerful, expensive offensive front locked in place save the right tackle spot.