Raiders

Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

557084.jpg

Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

For the last few years of his life, Al Davis hinted he was on the cusp of hiring a football operations person to help him through the daily grind of putting a competitive team together.It never happened.No doubt it's a taxing business but even as his health was failing, Davis ran the Raiders as a one-man show. So when he passed away Saturday morning at the age of 82, a seeming power vacuum atop the franchise opened up. The team purportedly goes to his wife Carol and his son Mark, who has been a much more visible figure around the Raiders in recent years, but it is not known yet just how the succession of football responsibilities will play out.RATTO: With Davis gone, Raiders enter lengthy 'interim' stage
Is first-year coach Hue Jackson the acting general manager? If not, to whom does he answer in football matters?

What about John Herrera, Davis' right-hand man and relative mood ring, who is more of a business-side figure than a football guy having worked for Davis since he was 16 years old?Big, sexy names sure to pop up will include the likes of Bill Parcells. And while Tuna would be a hefty catch, landing him would also be a major shock to the system. Then there's Ron Wolf, who helped build the Raiders in the glory days before rebuilding Green Bay.Davis was all about keeping things in the family, so to speak, so with that in mind, we present five intriguing potential G.M.Director of Football OperationsFootball Czar candidates who either bleed Silver and Black, have G.M.-type experience andor bring an exuberance that Davis would appreciateJOHN MADDENSilver and Black -- The first Raiders coach to win a Super Bowl, Madden was a trusted Davis confidante for decades. In fact, Madden was long rumored to be the logical choice as a Raiders football czar, so to speak. He popped up at training camp in Napa in recent years and watched practice with Davis in his golf cart. The Hall of Famer is an icon in the game and today's generation of player would instantly know him from the video game bearing his name. Who's going to try and get one over on Madden, really? Silver and Blecch -- Madden, though, is 75 years old and if he burned out from the daily grind of coaching during the Carter Administration, would he really want to deal with the nuts and bolts of contracts and hiring and firing folks in the Internet Age? Plus, while he was a constant around the game with his broadcasting role, just how in touch would he be with today's game? He seems better suited for an advisory role.JON GRUDENSilver and Black -- A seeming no-brainer, if he'd want to do it. "Chucky" would take the energy Jackson has infused within Raider Nation and pierce a hole through the ozone with it. That Jackson and Gruden already have a history with each other and respect for each other would be a bonus. And here's a secret: Gruden is still cherished by many influential Raiders figures as the "secret" party held for him at a certain East Bay sports bar a few years back and attended by just about everyone in the organization, aside from Davis himself, attests. Pictures from the event were taken down from the establishment's Web Site, lest they upset and offend Davis. Gruden is only 48 and has been out of the daily grind since 2008, so even though he's been visible with his TV work, he might be ready for the challenge.Silver and Blecch -- He's already been in Silver and Blackdom, done that. He has a high-profile, high-paying gig with ESPN that basically allows him to create his own schedule, or at least, not have to work a 23 12 hours a day, as he did when he was the Raiders' coach. And for as much as can be made about the relationship between "Chucky and Hue," Jackson just might get a tad uncomfortable with such another dynamic personality and beloved-by-the-fans face. And Gruden's name always comes up when a high-profie college gig opens.MATT MILLENSilver and Black -- A Raider through and through, Millen's toughness is what Davis believed every one of his players should exude. And he has President and CEO experience, having already run the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Lions from 2001 to 2008. Being out of the inner workings of the game for only three years could actually serve as a positive in that Millen might be hungry to get back into running a franchise. And with his history with the Raiders, he'd be invested spiritually, so to speak.Silver and Blecch -- Yeah, he has history as a GM, but it was with the Lions. And they were just 31-97 under his watch, counting only three games of an especially wretched 0-16 campaign in 2008, in which he was fired a month into the season. A myriad of confounding roster moves and, well, losing was his undoing in the Motor City. Many critics say the Lions' feel-good resurgence this season is in spite of Millen, not because of any path he began to blaze.BRUCE ALLENSilver and Black -- He oversaw the Raiders' most recent successful run, working hand in hand with Gruden. But philosophical differences with Davis led to his departure, and the Raiders have been craving his brand of wisdom ever since. He's remained plugged into the NFL since leaving Oakland and he's Washington's general manager now. So there would be little, if any, adjustment period for him in dealing with current executives. He could hit the ground running.Silver and Blecch -- Loyalty was key to Davis. Break a certain trust and you were basically done, in his eyes. Does that line of thinking extend to the rest of his family? Because after Allen left the Raiders he joined Gruden in Tampa Bay, a perceived slap to Davis if ever there was one. Then he went to Washington and joined forces with, gulp, Mike Shanahan, who was no doubt on the late Davis' figurative enemies of the Raider Nation list. There just might be some lingering resentment within the walls of Silver and Blackdom.TOM FLORESSilver and Black -- The understated yet stately Flores is the only coach in Raiders history to win two Super Bowls. He's already on the team payroll working in Oakland's radio booth. And, oh yeah, he has experience as a G.M. with Seattle in the early 1990s. The first quarterback in franchise history would command respect in any NFL board room he entered and he was also a favorite of the Davis family.Silver and Blecch -- Like Millen, Flores did not exactly set the world on fire as a G.M.. Dan McGwire, anyone? Rick Mirer? And, like Madden, he's older, at 74, and probably does not want to deal with the cutthroat world of trades, signings and scouting. He's better suited as an advisor, of sorts. In fact, he should be preparing his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech, not contemplating running the Raiders' football operations. But that's another story for another day.

Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl

carr-pro-bowl-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is headed to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He became eligible once New England qualified for the Super Bowl and Tom Brady was out of the running for next week’s NFL all-star game in Orlando.

Carr was the next alternate up, and accepted the invitation to represent the Silver and Black. Khalil Mack, Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn were named to the original roster, though Penn has bowed out with injury.

Carr will join his teammates in Florida for game-week festivities, followed by the inter-conference clash on Sunday at noon at Camping World Stadium. The game can be seen on ABC.

He joins Rich Gannon and Ken Stabler as Raiders quarterbacks with at least three Pro Bowl selections. Carr had a down year relative to his previous two, but still posted standout numbers. He had 3,496 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 86.4 passer rating.

The Raiders finished a disappointing 6-10, and head coach Jack Del Rio was fired in favor of Jon Gruden.

“It was not the year we wanted, but to still be recognized by you, Raider Nation and fans everywhere, and the players and coaches you go against is an extremely high honor I will always be thankful for!” Carr wrote in a note posted on Twitter. “Although I am extremely blessed to be thought of in such a way by my peers, I understand there is more work to do. There is more to achieve and more to accomplish and I will now ret until we get there, Raider Nation!”

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

amendola-touchdown-patriots-jags-ap.jpg
AP

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after hurting it during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and possibly the season - on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (15-3), who'll play the winner of Sunday night's game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots then ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they did it mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left the game late in the first half and didn't return.

Brady's hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since the quarterback's right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

That caused some panic among the Patriots faithful.

Turns out, it was nothing to fret about.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes - including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 - for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game - after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!"

And their quarterback delivered - with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.