Ray Ratto

Ratto: L.A. talking the Raider talk, once again


Ratto: L.A. talking the Raider talk, once again

Aug. 11, 2011


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Every now and then, like a particularly predatory cicada, Los Angeles crops up as a quasi-suitable NFL site again, and when it does . . .Yes, its time for Oakland Raider Football. Dont blink. You never know how long it will be there.Our states largest city took a mighty stumble forward . . . oh, about a foot and a half, pretty much . . . toward its dream of stealing two franchises from other parts of the nation this past week, and L.A. being L.A., it declared itself ready for action. With none of the signs of a construction project -- no post holes blasted, no concrete mixed, no bribes paid.But there it is anyway. Los Angeles, ready and willing to prove what it could not (or didnt feel like proving) before -- that it is a two-team NFL market. And the two teams?

San Diego and Oakland. Of course San Diego and Oakland.We should guess that this is a story again on the cusp of the beginning of the Raiders exhibitionpracticenon-vitaltime-wastingmeaning-deprived season. The lads began the Hue Jackson era with a 24-18 loss to Arizona that mostly showed us that: Denarius Moore is going to be regarded as the next Chaz Schilens.
The Raiders are not deep at cornerback.
Sebastian Janikowski will probably keep his job after a 57-yard field goal off the dirt that temporarily gave the boys an 18-17 lead. Ticket sales are going to be a point of emphasis at tomorrow's staff meeting.But back to the bigger picture, hazy though it might be.We don't know that anything is in the works yet for either team, the game of stadium leverage being what it is, but it is a topic again.
And it is a topic with too many loose endings to be reasonably settled now. Construction, money, free-range lawyers, debt financing, ownership issues, long-term bonds, city, county and state governments, cash, other teams, Roger Goodell as the broker, and property taxes . . . it all stands in the way of this latest chimerical master plan.But well say it this way: The Raiders will go to Los Angeles if: The team is sold to someone who wants to put the team in Los Angeles. The Raiders disregard the two-tenant stadium idea. The Raiders cant get a one-tenant stadium going. Los Angeles doesnt try to side-door the Raiders with a different second tenant. The NFL tries to midwife its own deal and is willing to do the legal fight the Raiders would surely promise.And there are about six or seven or 26 other things in play here, but we cant list them all without bleeding out of our eyes.The point remains, though, that having crushed its fan base down to an impenetrable core -- sort of like a sun imploding -- the Raiders are back in play whether they are or not. They need to pick up some level of momentum on the field to rebuild that audience because of the many ways that they have made themselves repellent to the casual ticket-buyer, and that remains Job One.Well, Job Only, to be more specific. L.A. is too far away to throw away any more seasons on coaching uncertainty or booable quarterbacks or any of the other entertainments the Raiders have been better at than winning these past eight years.And while we all enjoy trying to foretell the future five years down the road while knowing maybe one-third of the variables, there really is only the now. Hell, whos to say if Santa Clara falls through that the 49ers wouldnt be interested by Los Angeles?See the problem? Neither of our football teams are standing firm against the vagaries of an uncertain future in a willow economy, and Los Angeles is the only potential leverage either one has.But Los Angeles is far far away, and doing what Los Angeles does best -- talk the talk. When someone is ready to walk, well cast another eye at the Raiders, if only out of habit.Until then . . . its time for Oakland Raider Football, and you know that because Greg Papa has promised to throw an extra 12 Rs into Touchdown Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraiders. He managed that on Trent Edwards' third quarter touchdown pass to tight end David Ausberry, so he's in shape at least.
Hey, its how he drags himself through practice games. You have to find your own level of passion. But you have plenty of time before you need to begin any tearful vigils.

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.