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View From The Throne

Raiders managing general partner Al Davis held a rare news conference at the team's Alameda, Calif. headquarters Jan. 21, 2004. Wearing a black leather jacket and silver jewlery, the 74-year-old patriarch of the Raiders addressed a large group of media for the first time since March 2002.

Speaking for nearly 70 minutes in his trademark rambling style, Davis (right) discussed a variety of juicy issues about the Raiders. The love 'em or hate 'em NFL franchise appears to be at a crossroads after a miserable 4-12 season, the firing of head coach Bill Callahan and departure of former club executive Bruce Allen (now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager).

Here are excerpts from the State of the Al address:

Was the team in disarray during the 2003 season?

Davis: What has happened we consider normal, and I don't know what you mean by 'disarray.' We didn't win, if that's what you mean by disarray. You have to win in this business, nothing else matters other than life or death. There are years of glory, there are years of defeat. And make no mistake about it, 2003 was a year of defeat, and we intend to go through that mountain even though those rocks are coming down and bring this wagon through again, and we'll be there again.

What type of coach will succeed Callahan?

Davis: Whoever we hire, I'm not looking for a disciplinarian. I don't believe that's the way to go with this generation of players. You bring in a disciplinarian ... and they're going to get tired of that. I want freshness and vitality.

On the rift between Callahan and players:

Davis: The thing with coaches and players, I don't think we've ever had that to the extent we had it this year. You can't win the battle with the players. You can't fight them as a group. I do know I've got to watch that in the future. If no one else will dominate it and cut it out, then I will dominate it and cut it out.

On Bill Romanowski punching teammate Marcus Williams during practice:
(FYI: Williams, who sustained a fractured eye socket during the Aug. 24 attack, seeks $3.8 million in damages in a civil suit against his former teammate.)

Davis: As warriors, that's what these guys do. Unfortunately, this happened to hit an eye socket. I'm not condoning it, but I'm also saying it's part of our life. It's an unfortunate thing.

On former senior assistant Bruce Allen, the Raiders' de facto general manager, leaving after nine years for a similar position with the Buccaneers:

Davis: No one in our executive organization has has ever had a contract. If you're young and you want to go, and you want to be your own man and see if you can be a general manager, I encourage it.

Will the Raiders compete for free agents even though the franchise ranks near the bottom in revenues among NFL teams?

Davis: We will be competitive, we want to win. That is the idea of the Raiders. Let me make this point: We do $50 million a year less than the Denver Broncos and we do $80-$100 million a year less in revenue than the Washington Redskins. We are at the bottom of the 32 teams. We are 30, 31, 32 always. We do have one thing. We still have the mystique, we still have the aura, and we still have some great things going for us with players.

On being sued by the family of Raiders co-founder E.J. McGah
(FYI: The suit alleges that Davis has misused funds for personal gain and has denied the family access to Raiders financial records.)

Davis: It's harassment, nuisance, trash. There have been accusations relative to me that are not true, not even close to being true.

On his continuing role as the leader of Raiders franchise:

Davis: I am here. I am the organization. I run the organization. Whatever happens has to come back to me eventually.

On the timing of speaking with media for the first time in 22 months:

Davis: We had an Iowa caucus, a State of the Union address, and I felt it would be apropos now, a State of the Union of the Raiders.

Updated: 1-24-2004


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