If Al Davis was alive, Colin Kaepernick would be on the Raiders

If Al Davis was alive, Colin Kaepernick would be on the Raiders

Today’s NFL needs someone it can’t have, someone with the audacity to do the right thing even if it’s not the popular thing.

It needs a team owner with enough vision to see what’s coming in the world beyond football, understand its importance, and the backbone to act in the interest of the greater good.

The NFL needs Al Davis. Another Al Davis. The next Al Davis.

For all the public support Colin Kaepernick is getting from such players as Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, his desire for an opportunity to compete for a job in the NFL requires a team owner willing to punch a hole in the convention that paralyzes fellow owners.

Kaepernick needs an owner with enough independence to reject the league’s dogma, capable of considering his ability to play quarterback but also admiring his courage to protest the inequality we all see but only some acknowledge.

If only a current owner had Al’s social conscience.

If Davis were still jabbing at shadows and raising hell, Kaepernick wouldn’t be awaiting a call from the Ravens or the Dolphins or any of the other quarterback-starved NFL teams that may -- or may not -- be pondering placing that call.

He’d be in Napa, in training camp with the Raiders.

We say this not simply because Davis liked what he saw of Kaepernick as the Raiders prepared for the 2011 draft. Hue Jackson, Oakland’s head coach at the time, insists that Davis had zeroed in on Kaepernick as a second-round pick -- only to have the 49ers move up and grab him. Davis was enamored of the powerful arm, deceptive mobility and visible leadership on display during four years at the University of Nevada-Reno. He also was impressed by Kaepernick’s three-sport stardom in high school in Turlock.

But it’s Al’s social convictions that would have opened the door for Kaepernick now, in the wake of a season during which his pregame demonstrations against police brutality wound up shoving him outside the NFL bubble.

No owner in NFL history was more comfortable going his own way than Davis, who died in October 2011 in the early-morning hours of Yom Kippur. He would seek solutions in places where others saw only problems.

Davis lived by a code that didn’t always pay off, but from which he never wavered. If he thought you could play, he gave you a chance. If he thought you could play but also stood for the right thing, he’d jump at giving you a chance. He stood by his own principles, sometimes to his detriment, while holding in high esteem those who believed in fairness and were loyal to those beliefs.

Does that not describe Kaepernick?

His plea for racial/ethnic equality is something for which Davis often fought, most notably in the 1960s. He understood Muhammad Ali’s greatest objective and personally did his part to advance it.

Davis was the first owner to hire a Latino head coach, Tom Flores, the first modern-era owner to hire an African-American head coach, Art Shell (who was hired twice) and the first to hire a female CEO, Amy Trask. As AFL commissioner, Davis hired the first black game official, Aaron Wade, and the first black league administrator, Brad Pye.

Yes, Al basked in the glory of being first. He liked being considered an innovator, but he loved his team and his players.

During a time of legislated racial segregation in parts of America -- and NFL teams employed a quota system regarding men of color -- Davis was brazenly recruiting athletes from historically black colleges and universities. When Raiders players came to him with objections over segregated lodging for a 1963 preseason game in the Deep South, Davis took action. Stood on principle. Moved the game to Oakland.

“He was the kind of man who was aware of the things we were facing and stood by us and supported us,” Raiders legend Clem Daniels, a member of that ’63 team, said several years ago. “I don’t know how many owners would have done that.”

Understand, Al Davis adored America. When he stood for the anthem, he did so while mouthing the words, with his right hand placed over his heart. He was a military buff. His patriotism was above reproach.

A conservative in some ways, Davis was progressive in others. He acknowledged and reacted to injustice. Al in his own way fought to improve the country he loved.

Which brings us back to Kaepernick. Is that not his goal?

The wink-and-nod campaign among owners to disenfranchise Kaepernick is presumably rooted in, of all things, the fear of alienating fans. Our fans are calling. Our fans are complaining. Our fans might boycott.

This is deep-fried dung, and the players know it. They can see right through it. They know it’s a deliberate plot of owners, most of them staunchly conservative, that like their boys to shut up and play. That’s why some of them are speaking out.

Sherman pointed out that NFL owners, by isolating Kaepernick, are sending a message to all players to “stay in your place.” Bennett, one of Sherman’s teammates in Seattle, points out the hypocrisy of owners embracing convicted felons but unable to find a place for a multi-skilled quarterback that once led a team to the Super Bowl and has a clean rap sheet.

Jenkins described team owners as “cowards.”

Al Davis was many things, but never a coward.

After making a succession of bad choices with coaches and players that dragged the Raiders to the bottom of the league, he spent the last years of his life trying to right his own wrongs. For most of his years, he was the owner whose teams won the vast majority of its games even while separating himself from the craven, and sometimes profoundly racist, instincts of his fellow owners. He didn’t care what they thought. His decisions were based on his beliefs.

Davis would know Kaepernick is good enough to get a chance, and he would believe the reasons behind his protest are worthwhile and even, gulp, honorable.

There is, thus far, no such NFL owner in 2017. What we have had is 32 individuals pacing the floor with heads down, sneaking peeks at each other, with not a single backbone among them.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game


Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.

Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense


Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense

OAKLAND – NaVorro Bowman would’ve been forgiven for skipping Thursday’s game. The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, and had one practice and a pair of walk-throughs before facing Kansas City.

That isn’t much time to absorb a new scheme. No matter. As he said Monday, Bowman wanted to show you something.

The former 49er certainly did, even more than Bowman expected. He played 60 of 62 defensive snaps in a crucial 31-30 victory over the Chiefs.

He didn’t just play. He performed. Bowman led the Raiders with 11 tackles, including one for a loss and a crucial hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on a crucial third-down stop in the fourth quarter.

He wore the green dot – play calls were relayed to his helmet speaker -- and helped get the defense lined up.

“I just absolutely love the football player in him. He’s a hunting dog,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He loves to play. He brought experience during the week. He was a settling influence, kind of a determined influence on the sideline. I thought he did a remarkable job.”

That’s the result. The process of getting there was remarkable. He put in 40 hours of work in three days, memorizing terminology and defensive concepts specific to the game plan. He bunkered down and ignored the world during his acclimation process, and came out a functional member of the Raiders defense.

“Everyone knows I’ve only been here for three days and must be wondering how I did it,” Bowman said. “It was my commitment to the game, and my family understanding how much I love the work and giving me that peace and quiet time in hours away from them to really get everything down. This is why you want to come out so well and execute. So many people are sacrificing so you can play the game.”

Bowman helped keep the Raiders close down the stretch, and had key stops in a pair of defensive stops that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to orchestrate a successful two-minute drill.

"I was on the sidelines with my back turned, saying ‘I can’t watch, I can’t watch,’” Bowman said. “They all looked at me funny like, ‘This is what we do.’ They went out and won, and acted all normal. I guess that’s how we roll. It was a great game, and I enjoyed it.”

That was clear after the game. There was a good reason for it. Bowman hadn’t won a game since September 2016. Bowman lost most of last season recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, meaning he last tasted victory in Week 2 last season.

“I’ve worked my way back from the Achilles injury, and to have a shot to better and get better and possibly win a division is huge,” Bowman said. “We just beat a really good team. I think this will propel us and get us going.”

Quarterback –
Derek Carr 82
Running back – Jalen Richard 26, DeAndre Washington 25, Jamize Olawale 11, Marshawn Lynch 10
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 78, Seth Roberts 72, Michael Crabtree 72, Cordarelle Patterson 18, Johnny Holton 6
Tight end – Jared Cook 67, Lee Smith 17, Clive Walford 8
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 82, Rodney Hudson 82, Donald Penn 82, Vadal Alexander 82, Gabe Jackson 82

Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 62, Denico Autry 46, Justin Ellis 44, Treyvon Hester 32, Mario Edwards 28, Eddie Vanderdoes 19, James Cowser 3
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 60, Bruce Irvin 59, Nicholas Morrow 38,
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 62, Dexter McDonald 50, David Amerson 28, Sean Smith 19
Safety – Reggie Nelson 62, Karl Joseph 62, Keith McGill 7, Shalom Luani 1

Keith McGill 25, James Cowser 25, Shalom Luani 21, Xavier Woodson-Luster 19, Erik Harris 19, Jamize Olawale 19, Shlique Calhoun 16, Jon Feliciano 14, Lee Smith 14, Giorgio Tavecchio 12, Johnny Holton 12, Marquette King 11, Jon Condo 11, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jalen Richard 10, Nicholas Morrow 10, Darius McCray 8, Kelechi Osemele 7, Gabe Jackson 7, Vadal Alexander 7, Clive Walford 7, Justin Ellis 7, David Sharpe 7, Khalil Mack 6, TJ Carrie 6, Denico Autry 6, Treyvon Hester 6, Eddie Vanderdoes 6, Mario Edwards Jr. 5, Karl Joseph 5, DeAndre Washington 4,

QB EJ Manuel

CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, LB Marquel Lee, LB Cory James, DL Jihad Ward, RT Marshall Newhouse