Ray Ratto

Davis tribute a Raiders fan salute


Davis tribute a Raiders fan salute

If Sundays Browns-Raiders game is really supposed to be a commemoration of the life of Al Davis, what the hell were the other 782?

Were already tossing out the first three years before he got there, and the one where Lane Kiffin called for the 76-yard field goal attempt right before halftime to see if Al would fire him before the band cleared.

But every other game in the 48 years of Al was exactly a commemoration of his life, by the players and coaches he chose, the game plans he devised, the uniforms they wore, the penalties they committed, the 60-yard passes they tried. All of it was Al, every single time.

So really, and were splitting some hairs here, Sundays game isnt a tribute to Al nearly as much as it is a tribute to those who want to dress up one more time, fight the traffic, tailgate up a storm, watch the game, and head home in even worse traffic.

Its a tribute to Als fan base. And even though the team wont call it that because that comes a little too close to actual customer relations for the NFLs liking, thats what it is.

True, theyll have had to wait eight days to say their goodbyes, because of the timing of Davis death and the schedule, but they get their turn too, and it is so much in the Raiders essential character that theyre willing to wait until everyone is done before getting their turn. Oh, they dont like it, but theyll do it.

Of course theyll do it. They are the truest believers, the ones who were loudest and most profane in victory, and most profane and loudest in defeat. Even the ones who came to hate Davis for the last eight years came back at the end, because thats just how it works.

Yes, there are some who hate Davis because he touched their lives in a specific way -- embarrassing them in public, firing them without paying their contracts, taking them to court, that sort of thing. There are some who hate Davis simply for snatching the team out from under them, both in 1981 and then in 1995. There are some who hate him just on G.P., and Davis understood that, too. He rather appreciated it, in fact.

And in time, as people feel freer about expressing themselves on the subject, well get a clearer picture of the entire Al Davis phenomenon. He apparently wrote a book about it himself, that may or may not get published. Gee, wonder how the league office will come off in that one.

But Sunday? Sundays not about Al. Al got 782 days, not to mention all the practices and draft preps and training camps. Al commemorated his own life for nearly half a century. He commemorated the hell out of his life.

Nahhh, this ones a commemoration of the fan base and its fascinating relationship with the man. And in true NFL fashion, the audience will have to pay through the nose for the privilege.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care


Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care

Blake Bortles of America’s Jaguars represents something new and dangerous in American sports, and no, it isn’t because he is the national punch line who punches back.

Rather, the Jacksonville quarterback who is preparing for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Monolith, is dangerous because he seems genuinely not to care at all that he is routinely savaged as the worst quarterback in the National Football League. Not just passive-aggressively so, but actually and completely.

Have you any idea what this does to the smack-talking industry? If this catches on, our generation of semi-malevolent athletic parrots are stuck without a reason to talk that trash.

Of course, Bortles is unusual in this regard, in that he has been mean-mouthed not just by players but by regular citizens. He has been used as a prop for the Why-Isn’t-Colin-Kaepernick-Working movement, he has been compared unkindly to Ty Detmer, the previous low water mark in championship-level quarterbacks, and essentially disparaged almost universally.

Put another way, a case can be made that he has been savaged in his idiom as aggressively as the President.

And what does he do? Well, win, sure, but he has help, as all quarterbacks do. We always seem to forget that in our only-one-position-matters depth of understanding about the sport.

No, what he does is say with all sincerity that he doesn’t care one way or another, and that he never claps back at anyone for their more pointed views re: his skill set. If this is so, he is not only the owner of a rhinoceros hide, but he may be the living embodiment of a movement toward, “Oh, I suck? Yeah, okay, whatever. You’re probably right. You have yourself a good day.”

Andrew Luck does that after receiving a big hit. Bortles seems to do it on command, and if this is the future of sports in America, we are heading for a fascinating new world of relative silence.

But we know better. Bortles is an outlier, again, and this will not catch on. There’s no putting the mess-talk back in the tube. But if it helps, Bortles has another round of grief awaiting him this week as he is compared to Tom Brady . . . as a compost heap is compared to the Taj Mahal.

Only with more F-bombs.

Let Steve Young's brilliant Monday Night Football idea come true


Let Steve Young's brilliant Monday Night Football idea come true

Steve Young recently told KNBR’s Tom Tolbert that he still wasn’t interested in replacing new Raiders coach Jon Gruden in the Monday Night Football analyst’s chair – “still,” as in he’s been approached before and declined, for the only legitimate dodge left on the books -- family reasons.
“I cannot take a job where you disappear for four days a week for five months,” Young said, later adding, “If I could do it from my backyard, sure, I’d do it.”
And therein lies an idea – a brilliant idea, if I do steal and say so myself.
Let Young do the games from his backyard. Put a camera back there and let him work from a lounge chair beside what I imagine is a pool. He should have a beer and snacks at hand, and his kids should be allowed to run in front of him and make noise like they would normally, because that’s how most of us watch the games. Maybe he can bring the neighbors over for a little ‘cue, as long as they don’t F-bomb through his pregame chat with Sean McDonough.
After all, these are not grand secrets he will be imparting. He is not going to be able to articulate the secrets of the bubble screen or the two-deep zone any more cleverly than any other analyst – he will just sound more agreeable and less cartoonish doing it. And if the payment for that sense of informality is him in a Tommy Bahama shirt, cargo shorts, flip-flops and a frothy IPA, well, what’s the harm.
I mean, it’s not like he would be torpedoing ratings momentum. This has been another year of diminishing viewership for the NFL, which continues to struggle with the “F” in its acronym – football. Catches aren’t catches, fumbles aren’t fumbles, holds aren’t holds, first down measurements need office supplies, and nobody can explain why the overseer on the Planet Replay is no better at getting calls right than the guys on the ground.
So why not Young lounging in his backyard? Or his garage? Or the hardware store? Or the local tavern? If McDonough needs company in the booth, there is a vast wildlife preserve of ex-players roaming the hills and flats just waiting to share insipid tales of jet sweeps and momentum shifts while Young sits working the business end of a pina colada and providing the big picture the sport is so weak at providing. Frankly, I'm stupefied that it hasn't been done already.
This has been A Tramp’s View Inside The Television Garbage Fire, and I will happily accept the standard consultants fee when this is universally adapted.