Category Archives: alabama

“Tom Hanks Immortalizes Phil Villapiano & the Oakland Raiders in a Way Only Hollywood Can”

hanx raiders

Only in Hollywood.

“Hanx” gets it. When so many athletes and celebrities get very full of themselves due to their fame, Tom Hanks knows his place in this world. He never looks down on people and treats people with respect and that is rare among the rich and famous. Tom Hanks is a true Oakland Raider fan, and a good guy.

(Below the late Michael Clarke Duncan thanks Tom Hanks for his humble support)

As I said in many writings, some Raider fans don’t fit in with the rest of the NFL fandom, and neither did Tom. In interviews he talked about growing up and how he was disliked by students and teachers alike, and that he was geeky and unpopular. Even though he was extremely shy, he was also the one that would blurt out something funny during a film or class activity. He said he was responsible, and didn’t get into much trouble though. He purposely would go to plays by himself always reading the program and then engulfing himself into the story and the moment. He worked hard at his craft.

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Tom Hanks Senior Photo; Skyline High School in Oakland

He went to Skyline High in Oakland during the early to mid 70’s when there was a lot of turmoil in society. He then went to Chabot College in Hayward before going to Sacramento State.   He loved the Raiders his entire life.

The NFL and Hollywood:

I did a lot of research on the NFL and Hollywood and it’s pretty amazing how many players have been in the movies and on the television screen. In the 1970’s Merlin Olsen was epic as Jonathon Garvey on the Little House on the Prairie Series with Michael Landon. He was so naturally talented as an actor they gave him his own short lived series in Father Murphy. A member of the fearsome foursome in family television.

Then you have the great Alex Karras who also was a gifted actor. He played the father on Webster and was in Blazing Saddles and Victor Victoria. A little known fact is that he was the one of the final cuts to play Carlo Rizzi in the Godfather.

(below is Ben Davidson as Rexor v.s. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian.  Ben and Rexor have become cult icons with a huge following)

The Iconic Jim Brown was in the Dirty Dozen and many other films, and Vikings running back Ed Marinaro was amazing in one of the greatest shows of all time, Hill Street Blues. There are a lot more that in the future I will write about. No team in history though has more people in the big or small screen than the Raiders.

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Ken Stabler & Phil Villapiano

Raiders Invade Hollywood:

Fred Williamson is the Raiders and NFL icon all-time when it comes to Hollywood. The “Hammer” and ex-Raider has been in over 115 movies and tv shows and is still working at 80 years old. Carl Weathers, the former Raiders linebacker became famous playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky classics. Ben Davidson was in the M.A.S.H. movie as well as Conan The Barbarian.   He also made waves when he did a porn movie (he was fully clothed and did no sex) which got him hate mail from across the country. Many other Raiders have been in films and television and they were hugely popular on talk shows and commercials. Even with the Raiders glory years decades past, Tom Hanks put the icing on the cake in honoring his team in the 1996 film, “That Thing You Do”.

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Villapiano’s:

In the late 80’s and early 90’s Tom Hanks was at a crossroads. After his meteoric rise, he had 4 straight flops and was looking to get back on top. In 1992, he asked talented director Penny Marshall for a chance to play Jimmy Dugan in the movie “A League of Their Own”. Dugan was a washed up ex-baseball star whose career was cut short by his drinking. Marshall; who is as soft and sweet as a cactus at times; gave him the part and made him earn his way through the movie. Tom Hanks hit a home run in this classic, and from there went on to do some of his timeless films.

In 1996, Tom took to writing and directing his first film in “That Thing You Do”. A sweet movie about a musical group going from garage band to stars. He needed to choose a place for the musical numbers that had history and that could show how the 1960’s music scene really was during those times.

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Palomino’s back in it’s heyday

Hanx chose the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood. In keeping with the history of the club, he honored ex Oakland Raiders LB Phil Villapiano by naming it after him. Villapiano’s became a key place in the film. Here is the famous fight scene from the movie at Villapiano’s.

Here is Tom Hanks mentioning Villapiano’s on the Red Carpet with his lovely wife Rita Wilson.

Why is This So Important and Where is Villapiano’s?:

What’s funny is that online movie fans have argued, what venue was used as Villapiano’s and where is it? I’ve searched various sites and did some digging and the site for Villapiano’s eventually was found out to be the iconic Palomino’s, and he couldn’t have picked a better place to name Villapiano’s.   This place was once called The Grand Ol’ Opry West. Just like the Whiskey a Go Go and many other LA hotspots back in the day, this launched many a musical career and was the place to be.

They actually sell the t-shirt at cafe press.  Here is the link:  https://www.cafepress.com/mf/32417705/villapiano_tshirt?productId=209598228

villapiano_tshirt

Le Monge
The Palomino closed 20 years ago and is now a banquet hall called Le Monge

The history of this place is historic. In true Raider form, the Palomino was originally called the MuleKick.   Before the Palomino opened in 1949, the MuleKick was a blue collar neighborhood bar that was frequented often by the ex-country and western film actors and stuntmen of the 1930’s and 1940’s that mostly lived there. The clientele was friendly but gruff, hard working and hard drinking. Country Music Star Hank Penny bought the place and changed the name to the Palomino.

Many famous stars like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson performed to packed crowds. Below is a rare shot of Willie Nelson performing at the Palomino in 1970.

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A young Willie Nelson plays at the Palomino in 1970

Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and even Elvis Pressley would play unannounced sets to the crowds whenever they would drop in. In the 70’s and 80’s it became a haven for the Hair Band and rock band era with many of the hottest bands in the country playing there. Bands like Quiet Riot and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would hone their craft and create a groundswell of support, launching their careers.

(Below is a great performance from the Palomino Club by Jerry Lee Lewis with a very candid interview of the “Killer” afterward.)

Tom Hanks knew the history of the Palomino, and it was a match made in heaven to choose this venue to call Villapiano’s. Hanx grew up in the east bay during the Santa Rosa Oakland Raiders training camp days and no team was as hard drinking and hard living as the Oakland Raiders and their ring leader Phil Villapiano. Ben Davidson, Phil and Ken Stabler would have fit in this bar like a fish to water.

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Jim’s Jamz:

For anyone that grew up in the 1970’s, they remember how the Raiders were everywhere. Their winning was done in such a charismatic way that it attracted fans, the NFL, and Hollywood. For Tom to use Phil’s name in the movie just shows how much he loves the team of his youth.

So grab a glass of your favorite adult beverage, put on your favorite Raider jersey and check out “That Thing You Do” if you haven’t already. And most of all give a toast to Tom Hanks and Phil Villapiano and all of the Raiders of the past. And enjoy the fact that Tom Hanks immortalized the Raiders and Phil Villapiano, in a way only Hollywood can.

 

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“Who do you Pick? The Oakland Raiders Top 5 Probable Picks in the First Round of Today’s NFL Draft”

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It’s here.

The NFL has done a masterful job in getting people addicted to the NFL draft. Some even pay “experts” to tell them who will be drafting who. The funny thing is if an expert can get 6-8 picks in the first round right, then that is really good. About 5 years ago KNBR pointed out after the draft how Mel Kiper Jr.; the present draft guru; got ONE pick right in the first round. What this tells us is that your guess is as good as theirs.

I first got into the draft in the 1980’s. To the ire of my mom, my dad and I would watch hours of the coverage.   She would vacuum under our feet and sigh every once in a while letting us know that Dr. Z’s thoughts on an offensive linemen was not vital to mankind’s existence. “How in the world can you watch hours of grown men talking about who to choose to go on a stupid football team?” Eventually my dad would say,”your mother is mad, let’s get some stuff done”.

My friends and I picked up the torch. In 2000 we started having a draft party. We would take the day off work to the chagrin of our female partners, and drink adult beverages, eat food, and draft for each of our favorite teams. We vowed to keep our draft picks and the following year (and years) we would rip on each other or brag about each of our picks. As a Raider fan, what really was sad is that a bloke like me drafted 100 times better than the Raiders did for almost 2 decades.

ESPN did a great article saying what I’ve been saying for years; NFL teams do not draft very well; especially at Quarterback. If you look at the NFL draft history, no team stands out as a great drafting team and most have had a lot more misses than they would like to admit.

Why The NFL Struggles With the NFL Draft:

It’s really not that hard. I can’t remember who said it, but during one of the drafts, he told a great story.   “If you have a beautiful woman standing in front of you, you are amazed at her perfection. If you look at her day after day then all of a sudden she’s a little too fat in some areas and she’s not as pretty as you thought. If you look hard at something long enough, you will find flaws and imperfections”.

The NFL combines is that over analyzing factor. I never watch or care about it. If a team denies 3 to 4 years of game film because a guy impresses them while wearing gym shorts in an air conditioned arena, then you deserve what you get. I remember half a dozen DB’s (and even a WR) picked by the Raiders alone purely because they had the fastest 40 times at the combines but they ended up being huge busts. Darrius Heyward-Bey was never really that good at Maryland and couldn’t carry Michael Crabtree’s jock but his 40 time wowed Al Davis and the rest is history. Still remember all of the Raider fans telling me to give him time. I hope they still aren’t waiting.

The NFL has also become a cookie cutter league. They have a certain size that they love in players. For QB’s if you are 6’ 3” and over with a big arm, you are anointed a great prospect. I watched Wyoming QB Josh Allen in a lot of games and to be honest I never saw him as a great QB or even a first rounder.

Josh Allen has bust written all over him but he’s big and has a rocket arm.   He’s never been in the top 50 in QB rating and against the best competition he’s faced, he had his worst games. In contrast players like Baker Mayfield and Georgia LB’s Roquan Smith’s best games were against their best competition.

In true NFL manner, someone also has brought up tweets that Allen made when he was 15 and 16 trying to stir it up. Funny how they are brought into the news right before the draft, but no one said this wasn’t a dirty business.

To me the NFL is as ridiculous as it gets with some of their research.   The dumb questions teams and scouts ask at the NFL combines are of legend. This year one possible draft pick was asked if he was gay and another was asked what type of women he liked. Other dumb questions that players have admitted they were asked will astound you. Do you wear boxers or briefs; is your mom pretty; what’s the most popular drug at your school; if you had to kill someone, would you use a knife or a gun?; when did you lose your virginity; what team do you pick in Madden and why?; if I give you a paper clip, what things would you do with it?   And these are the “experts” that some fans like to defend when people question teams choices?

Fans v.s. Teams:

Personally I’ve had some stud drafts over the years. Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson have been great picks for me but I’m honest. I also wanted Matt Leinart so I’ve had my train wrecks too.   While the Raiders picked Gareon Conley last year I chose Reuben Foster. I like my chances on that one too.

This years draft will be classic because there are so many QB’s in it which means there will be busts. For me I’m not in love with any of the QB prospects. Darnold is a turnover machine who takes too many chances; Rosen has to have a lot of time because he struggles against a rush; and Lamar Jackson out of Louisville looks like an athlete playing QB a lot like Terrelle Pryor and even former Texas Longhorn QB Vince Young.

The Raiders will choose……..

Oakland will pick in the #10 spot after losing the coin flip to San Francisco.   What stinks is that the 49ers have many of the needs that Oakland does. San Francisco would love to have another linebacker to go with Reuben Foster and their young and talented DL but they also have huge holes in the secondary just like the Raiders.

As I’ve said before, the rule changes have made passing the ball so much easier and it’s limited the effectiveness of defensive backs. You have to have a pass rush. The Patriots lead the NFL in post season sacks and who would think Tom Brady would be stopped on his last 2 drives in the Super Bowl? The Eagles pass rush stopped those drives. Offense puts butts in the seats but defense wins championships. The Raiders pass rush was poor again last year and that is with Khalil Mack in the fold. They desperately need a DT that can push the pocket back to opening up sack opportunities.   Below are the players that they are almost certain to have on their draft board.

roquan smith final

  1. Roquan Smith, LB Georgia

I don’t think he will last. If he drops down to the 49ers it’s hard to think them passing up on him. Smith can play every down and can start immediately and he and Foster would be some tandem in the 49er recent tradition of linebackers.  He can play every down and he’s legit.

minkah 2

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Alabama

I’m into pass rush and having a stud defensive front 7 but Minkah is a stud. Some teams say he doesn’t have the ideal size but I like him a lot. If the Raiders do get him then it says they aren’t exactly thrilled with #2 draft pick safety Obi Melifonwu which means another wasted pick. Obi is an amazing athlete but he has little instinct especially in the passing game. I did not like the pick last year. Karl Joseph also struggles at times in pass coverage.   Fitzpatrick is instinctive and can tackle. The Raiders have missed a lot on draft picks, and you can’t keep redrafting and resigning positions due to mistakes and win.

mike mcglinchey

  1. Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame

McGlinchey is the sexy pick of late for draft “guru’s”. He is a polished player who is 6’ 8” and 310 pounds.   Most feel that he needs to hit the weight room a bit but overall he is a great talent who can start right away.   They need defense so I’m not so sure about this pick.   The Raiders defense isn’t that good and they have to upgrade the talent.

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  1. Vita Vea, DT Washington

I love this pick. He can move the pocket and he’s as strong as it gets. He’s a beast in the middle and he can push the pocket back and be a huge problem for offenses to block. Problem is, it shows again wasted picks with Jihad Ward who is a probable bust, and Eddie Vanderdoes who didn’t supply a pass rush up the middle just like he didn’t at UCLA. I personally think because of the picks the past 2 years, Vita might be passed over if he drops this far but it would be a mistake.

derwin james

  1. Derwin James, S Florida St.

He’s got classic Raider pick written all over him and I don’t like it. He’s big at 6’ 3” 215 lb., and he has good speed. He’s more of a safety than a CB. I’m not thrilled with this pick but with the Raiders revolving door of DB busts draft picks and signings they’ve had over the recent years, I still have nightmares of bad first round DB draft choices dancing in my head.  Don’t be surprised if this is their guy.

Jims Jamz:

Barring a trade, these are probably the draft picks the Raiders will choose from. A new rumor yesterday said the Raiders may draft up for stud DE Bradley Chubb out of N.C. State, but wake me up if that happens. (I’m still waiting for the LeVeon Bell to the Raiders and Odell Beckham Jr. to the Patriots rumors to come true). The Raiders have had many chances to sign a stud pass rusher but they didn’t spend the money and I find it hard for them to move up to do this.  Getting Chubb would immediately improve their defense but me winning the lottery would improve my goals of buying cars for everyone.

So there  you have it.  Pour yourself an adult beverage and enjoy the draft. But remember, it’s easy to be right after the fact and complain about others on social media, than it is to be accountable for your picks.  If you have the guts though, start drafting for your favorite team and see how you do versus the experts like we’ve been doing for 19 years. It’s a lot easier being a critic than a GM.

 

“Remembering Oakland Raiders Al Davis (& the AFL) on MLK Day & His 5 Decade Fight For Equality”

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Al Davis, civil rights pioneer.

Al Davis has been called many things. Innovator, rebel, leader, dictator; and many other things that are not for print. One thing many will remember him for though is as a civil rights leader.  Al Davis had one goal in sports; winning. And because of that spirit, he didn’t care what color or sex you were.  Just win baby.

Davis Stand against Racism in the 1960’s; The AFL makes history in a boycott:

The 1960’s was a heck of a time. It had a lot of turmoil due to military conflicts and racial injustice.   From the college game to the NFL game, there were still many fans, coaches and administrators that didn’t like having blacks on their teams. We applaud the storied Alabama football program for it’s winning today but we forget it didn’t integrate black players until 1971 when John Mitchell and Wilbur Jackson first played for the Crimson Tide. Even though the civil rights bill threatening to take away federal funding to schools that discriminated against African Americans was enacted in 1964, it took years for some schools to comply. In fact, even though they have tried to hide it,   look at the Mormon Church and BYU’s history in the 1970’s in regards to race. Quite a read.

The same was seen at a smaller level in pro football. Even though there were many African American players, they were not welcomed by everyone with open arms. Al Davis really helped in opening doors for many people.

The AFL and Al Davis especially were different.  In a 1963 exhibition game in Mobile, Alabama, Al Davis demanded the contest be moved to Oakland because he was not going to separate his players in segregated hotels. He also tried to do this in many other games through the 1960’s.  When Raiders outspoken star Clem Daniels complained about the way black players were treated at the 1965 AFL All-Star game in New Orleans, Al Davis supported them when they voted to boycott the game unless it was moved.  Other owners and commissioner Joe Foss joined the outcry.  Even many white players including Ron Mix stated that they would no longer play in the game if it stayed in New Orleans.  The organizer of the All-Star game went so far as to tell the minority players that they and their families were welcome in New Orleans but that was far from the case.  African American players were left stranded at the airport with some not being able to get taxi’s while others were not allowed to go into restaurants and bars in the french quarter due to the color of their skin.  Eventually the game was moved to Houston and even though it was a spur of the moment thing, Houston did a good job of hosting.  AFL Commissioner Joe Foss wrote a letter to the people of Houston thanking them for the classy way they supported the AFL’s players.  The actual letter is below.  Pretty cool letterhead.

afl-letter

African American Colleges Play a Big Role in Player Drafts:

When he took over for the Raiders, Davis was one of the first to specifically target black/small colleges. Some of the greatest Raiders were from small or black colleges including Hall of Famer’s Gene Upshaw ( Texas A & I) and Art Shell (Maryland St.).   Both Hall of Fame players were thought of as somewhat risky picks because they were from schools that were too small or too abstract.

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Two of the Greatest to play the game.  HOF players Art Shell, and Gene Upshaw.

When Raiders all world WR Warren Wells was in Texas state prison serving time, the Raiders had an important team celebration. Mr. Davis contacted the state of Texas stating that he would pay for security for Warren to attend, but the state denied the request. It didn’t matter that Warren was an African American to Al Davis. What was important was that he was a Raider.

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The greatest catch that few remember.  Wells Makes Miraculous grab with 8 seconds to beat the Jets in 1970.

The Good Old Boys Network Get’s a Shakeup:

When Davis hired Art Shell to be the first African American head coach, it had broken down decades of prejudice.  It was groundbreaking and even today name all of the GM’s in the NFL that are African American or Hispanic?   There aren’t very many, but of course the Raiders have one of them in Reggie McKenzie. Al Davis also hired the first Hispanic head coach in Tom Flores, and the first female executive in Amy Trask. If he thought you could do the job, he didn’t care if you were a blue smurf, he would hire you.

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Art Shell and Al Davis 1989

In an episode of HBO’s amazing series “Real Sports”, they talked about the lack of support and care for retired NFL players. One owner had an idea of building a hospital in Utah or another inexpensive state for the retired players that would be funded by the NFL retirement plan through the profits of the league. Who was the owner that created the plan and was the only one that voted yes for it? Al Davis.

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No One but Elvis could rock a white jumpsuit like Al Davis

Jim’s Jamz:

There have been many white owners, coaches and players in pro footballs history who have done their part in helping to cross the barriers of prejudice and hate.   None of them though did it with the confidence, fire and flare that Al Davis did.  On the field Mr. Davis didn’t want to lose and he didn’t want to tie. He wanted one thing and that was to win. And if you could help the Raiders get to that goal, he wanted you and you were a Raider brother for life no matter what your religion or race was. Especially in today’s America, wouldn’t it be nice if that was the way things were?

Sadly we still have a long way to go in eliminating hate and prejudice, but it’s people like Martin Luther King Jr.; and to an extent Al Davis; that gets us closer to that goal.   I know today is MLK day but on this day I always think of Mr. Davis. From Terry Bradshaw to Derrick Thomas to the countless number of players from other teams that he supported during bad times, Mr. Davis really cared about them.  The football world is not as fun without Mr. Davis but few see his other side because like most men his age, they didn’t want the attention it gave. The thing that everyone in football knows about Al Davis is that even though he loved the Raiders tough, renegade image, he had an awful soft heart under that ugly white jumpsuit.

“Evaluating the Oakland Raiders from GM & Coaches to DB & QB: Who Stays in 2018 & Who Doesn’t; Plus Possible Draft Picks”

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You are what your record says you are.

The Raiders laid another egg yesterday in a 26-15 loss to Kansas City.  Thanks to Alex Smith’s horrible day, he kept it close in a game that really wasn’t that close.  Some say how can they be this bad after a 12-4 season.  Part of the reason was that they played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL last year and barely won several games.  They weren’t as good as their 12-4 record said.  Also on offense where teams now no longer give them the easy, short passes, the Raiders have done little to adjust.  After this disappointing loss in Kansas City, even though it’s way too early, let’s take a quick look at each position and coach to see who may or may not be back next year.

 General Manager:

Mark Davis likes Reggie McKenzie and it’s hard to see him not back for at least one more year. I think the Raiders are frustrated though at another lost draft pick to injury just like DJ Hayden, and Karl Joseph who all missed significant time their rookie seasons just like CB Gareon Conley did this year.

From Derrick Gibson and Philip Buchanon, to DJ Hayden, the Raiders have been missing on DB’s for a long time. They also have had several signed busts as well. The Raiders front 7 has never been the focus; the DB’s are always the focus and it’s a terrible plan. Shore up the defensive front 7 and your defense will improve immediately.   The best defenses in the NFL have stud front 7’s. With the new rules, the days of shut down corners and DB’s like the soul patrol are over. This is a huge off season for McKenzie.

Jack Del Rio:

When Jack Del Rio was hired, I wrote 2 articles saying this wasn’t a great hire. The Raider nation called me a fool. Huh? Oh how the mighty have fallen. All off season and last year you heard in Jack we trust and all of the other corny sayings. Those same people now want Jack’s head. Many fans online are calling for his firing.

KNBR’s Gary Radnich is not one to spread rumors. He said he’s close to some of the people on the Raiders present staff and they are saying Del Rio isn’t exactly the most loyal guy to his staff and he’s a huge micro manager. There are also grumblings that he’s not exactly getting along with Mark Davis and/or Reggie McKenzie. His firing which was once thought to be crazy may happen. Problem is he’s owed a ton of money after signing a 4 year extension in February. Look for Jack to be back for at least one more year.  And remember in his tenure at Jacksonville he went through 19 coaches.

Todd Downing:

He hasn’t’ done a good job but he’s the fans and amateur writers scapegoat. The truth is Derek Carr holds some of the blame too.   Carr is the coach on the field and he has the last say on plays that are called. If you are going to trash Downing then you need to trash Derek Carr who seems to only occasionally audible. Carr for this year is the highest paid NFL player.  Rodgers, Brady & Roethlesberger to name a few, audible for most of the game.

Downing was in over his head and it’s hard to see him back next year but Carr loved this guy and this was a hire to please him.

John Pagano:

Pagano is a solid defensive coordinator and he should be retained.   He still has a lot of work to do though. Kansas City’s offensive line and QB Alex Smith were horrible yesterday but they still got a 26-0 lead at one point. Smith in particular was bad with his decision making and accuracy being a mess when the Chiefs should have had 40 points easy.

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Defensive Line:

The Raiders for years have tried to fix the defense by signing and drafting defensive backs; it doesn’t work. If you look at most of the teams that are thriving, the key to their defenses are the front 7. They may have quality DB’s but you have to have a pass rush to win in the NFL. The Raiders don’t.

Fans will lose their mind when a player has a big game but there is no consistency. Khalil Mack had a 6 game stretch this year where he had only 1 ½ sacks and only 27 tackles. The Raiders were 2-4 in that stretch. He once was benched for poor play. In the first 10 games of the year, Bruce Irvin had 2 ½ sacks and only 34 tackles. That doesn’t scare any opponent.

Mario Edwards had a few moments but he also has not proven he’s the answer to the DL issues. Jihad Ward was not a good pick last year and even though he played most of 2016, he had very little success. Even though he’s been healthy, the Raiders have not even had him suit up for some games so already his days may be numbered.

Eddie Vanderdoes is this years Ward and he has not had much of an impact as well with has only 13 tackles all year even though he’s started often. The Raiders have to sign or draft a dominating DT who can put pressure on the QB or they will struggle; AGAIN.

Linebackers:

Navorro Bowman loves the bay area and Reggie McKenzie loves him; he did a good job in signing him. Look for Bowman to be back next year. He’s not the player he once was but he definitely is an upgrade to what the Raiders had and he’s a hard worker with good leadership skills. I love him on the team.

To be honest other than Irvin, the rest of the LB core are borderline NFL starters. The Raiders LB’s still struggle a lot in pass coverage. The Raiders need another starter and if I’m drafting next year my first 2 picks are a DT and an LB. The Raiders have to improve their front 7 or not much will change. And to watch the 49ers Reuben Foster have 45 tackles in the last 5 games and 3 for loss, is a little rough when the Raiders could have drafted him.

Defensive Backs:

If there was ever any ammo against Reggie McKenzie, it’s his signings and drafting of DB’s. DJ Hayden was a huge bust and now he finally is starting on a bad Detroit pass defense after being a nickel back for most of the year.

David Amerson did well his first year but teams found out that he struggles covering the deep ball. If the Raiders keep him it will definitely be at a lesser salary. Sean Smith has been a bust and his big salary will be taken off the books in the off season. Reggie Nelson has never been a great factor and his 4 million will also be taken off the books. Whether Gareon Conley is ready or not, he’s going to start next year. He was never good against the run at Ohio St. but his claim to fame was as a coverage man. He will get his chance quickly next year after being another injured Reggie draft pick that didn’t do much his first year.

Karl Joseph is what he is. A hard hitter who is good against the run but will struggle at times in coverage.   Covering the tight end is still an issue in Oakland. Joseph had a bad game in KC with some awful missed tackles.

Safety Obi Melifonwu is an amazing athlete and good tackler but he has a lot to learn. His struggles in college were due to a lack of instinct and he also will probably be thrown into the fire next year. That could get ugly. TJ Carrie is an OK DB but he’s never going to be the shut down corner or key safety.   He can provide depth though. Due to the wasted money and mistakes, the Raiders will need help in free agency. PLEASE; No more high DB picks. I beg of you.

Quarterback:

Derek Carr is now the highest paid player in the NFL and he’s feeling the pressure. He is a good, solid NFL QB, but he will never be a great QB. His reluctance to run and his uncomfortable movements when he’s rushed are obvious even to the average fan. Last year teams gave the Raiders the short ball and this year they took it away and Carr and Todd Downing never adjusted. EJ Manuel signed a 1 year 800k contract so it’s not known if he will resign. To be honest if the Raiders are relying on their backup to win, they are in huge trouble just like everyone else in the NFL.

Running Backs:

Marshawn Lynch is signed for one more year and the Raiders are solid with DeAndre Washington Jalen Richard. Jamize Olawale is also a good player. I like these guys. Lynch is not a consistently good pass catcher though so when the Raiders are behind, his presence will diminish.  The Raiders are not a zone blocking team and many have said so.

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Wide Receiver:

Cooper and Crabtree are solid but both have struggled with drops. Cooper needs to get more physical and with DB’s now playing on the line, he’s had issues getting into his routes. He’s a hard worker and has too much talent not to come back next year. Cordarrelle Patterson runs the worst routes in the NFL but he can run fast downfield and also is great on reverses. He makes plays and is a great return guy. Johnnie Holton is a wild card who can make plays but he doesn’t show consistency.  He’s also a fumble machine if he’s hit after the catch. Seth Roberts is liked by the Raiders but his days may be numbered as the #3 WR. With issues in other areas, WR can be fixed easier than the defense.

Offensive Line:

The Raiders OL is set for at least another year. They’ve played better in the second half of the season and they are a huge key to the success of the team. Using a zone scheme on running plays has hurt this team. They need to go back to the power scheme and Marshawn Lynch needs to accept it.

Draft Choices:

First off the draft positions change like the wind. These are players that I like early on. Oakland almost always picks a DB in the first 2 rounds so this may be wishful thinking. I haven’t agreed with a lot of their draft picks especially the DB’s, but it is what it is. Here are a handful of names that may help the Raiders.

Roquan Smith LB, Georgia:

The Raiders defense would immediately improve with this guy. He’s probably the best LB in the draft and he’s been a huge key to making Georgia a top defense. Many feel he should have gotten more Heisman hype than he got. A big playmaker that can start immediately.   He would be great beside Navorro Bowman and can play all downs.

DaRon Payne DT, Alabama:

Payne has really come on this year after working hard in the off season to shed a little weight which has improved his speed. At 6’ 2” and 310 pounds he runs a 4.93 40 and is a freakish athlete. He can play in passing and running downs and can create pressure on the quarterback.

Maurice Hurst DT, Michigan:

Hurst has had a good season and is solid as a run stopper and a pass rusher.   He’s very athletic and is projected as a first rounder by some, a second rounder by a few.

Clelin Ferrell, DE Clemson:

The Raiders really need a DT that can push the OL back and put pressure on the QB, but Ferrell is an excellent pass rusher that they might not be able to pass on.

Like I said, social media has a lot of people that love a player and coach one day and then wants them fired the next. In reality this is business. You evaluate long and short term to see if the person or player in the position will eventually be the answer to the problem.

Also the salary cap plays a role. You can’t fix everything so you need to fix the biggest issues and do your best at other positions.

This has been a disappointing year for Oakland but they played a much tougher schedule than last year. Last year the Raiders beat a lot of bad teams and often in the last minutes of games.   I think the Raiders were not as good as their record was last year and they’ve now come back down to earth.

The defense has huge issues though and that has to be fixed. The Raiders also need to get an OC that will challenge Carr to be more of a game general out there. He will never be a running QB but a scramble now and then would help as well.

This off season will see changes and lots of decisions. Time will tell if the Raiders have the people to make the right ones, and the players to carry them out.

 

“Raider Fans Upset @ Average Draft Grades: Let’s Look at these Players & How They Fit into 2017-18”

ConleyJog
Gareon Conley During Pre-Game Warm ups in Norman, Oklahoma

After the NFL draft, writers and fans LOVE post draft grades.  For me, I don’t like them much.  I feel that it takes 3 years to really know what a draft is about.  I think if a player is drafted in the first 3 rounds, they need to contribute significantly in their second year or you are bordering on bust.  This is the salary cap era and you can’t afford to have guys sit for 3-4 years before they are good.

Most grades for the Raiders from the media have been luke warm.  From Mel Kiper Jr. and others giving them a C, to various others giving them up to a B-.  Overall I like some of the things the Raiders did but was disappointed that certain things were not addressed.

I think the main problem is when you have the worst pass rush in the NFL and you are not good at stopping the run, why draft two DB’s in your first 2 picks?  That didn’t make sense.  Some say well Fosters health is an issue?  Why.  He’s coming off of rotator cuff surgery and will be cleared for all football duties before training camp.  He never missed a game and rarely missed a practice in 2 years at Bama.  The Raiders picked a guy that had late season knee surgery in Karl Joseph so that’s not the issue. McKenzie said they thought Conley was the better player.  I watch a TON of college ball and I’m not seeing that at all.  The SEC championship game MVP didn’t miss a game the last 2 years and was all over the field for much of the time.

Let’s look below at the mostly good, but sometimes bad things in the Oakland Raiders 2017 draft.

1st Round Gareon Conley CB Ohio St.

Positives:  Excellent cover guy who can stick with his man especially going downfield.  Fast; rarely gets beaten badly and is always around the receiver.  He is a solid cover DB in either man, zone press coverage, or even against slot receivers.  Not a spectacular player but very solid in all areas.

Negatives:  Other than Marshon Lattimore, it was hard to watch the DB’s of Ohio St. tackle and play the run and Conley was one of those that struggled tackling.  Conley is not physical and even though he’ll line up on guys at the line of scrimmage, he doesn’t like to jam them.  He did give up some big plays against more physical WR and struggled in crossing patterns or slants.

Overview:  A good pick but when Reggie Mckenzie said he went for the best player available and Reuben Foster is still there then I disagree.  Foster was a perfect fit in the Raiders defense and is on schedule to be ready before training camp after his rotator cuff surgery.  I take Foster all day but the Raiders obviously think the keys to a defense are DB’s and not the front 7.  Go figure.

Patriots_Obi_Melifonwu_Josh_Hill_Merrimack_2
Obi Melifonwu

2nd Round:  Obi Melifonwu S Connecticut

Positives:  Some say he’s the best athlete in the NFL draft since Vernon Gholston who the NY media called Adonis.  Obi is 6’ 4”, 220 lb. and is extremely fast.  He’s excellent against the run leading the team in tackles in some games and breaking records for tackles by non LB’s .  His draft stock sky rocketed during the NFL combines.  Very long arms that he uses well when tackling.  He has a long neck and looks a little like a bigger Merton Hanks from 49er’s fame.

Negatives:  As raw as it gets in pass coverage.  Tentative, and lacks instinct.  He has a lot to learn if he’s going to be good in the NFL in coverage.  It will take a year or two to see what the Raiders really have in him.  UCONN was outscored 130-16 in their last 4 games last year and they weren’t exactly playing Alabama so you wonder about his elevated stats, because their defensive front 7 was not good.     

Outlook:  A raw talent who’s athleticism is hard to pass up.  I always worry about NFL combine warriors though.  Karl Joseph is good against the run but just ok against the pass so right now they have a bigger Karl Joseph in him.  I think this is going to be a great pick or a pure bust; no in between.  Time will tell.  With Raiders Safeties struggling to stay healthy we may find out quickly.

3rd Round:  Eddie Vanderdoes DT UCLA

Positives:  He is a powerful, athletic DT.  He had a bad year last year coming off of ACL surgery.  He gained a lot of weight and didn’t seem very motivated.  The good news is that he’s lost 30-40 pounds and seems much more into football.  He was a top ten 5 star recruit out of high school.

A tough guy to block against the run who can handle double teams and keep his ground.  If he keeps his weight down, he has the possibility of being a solid DT in the NFL.  When he’s motivated, he’s fun to watch because of how physical he plays.

Negatives:  Most experts had this pick being too high, which was similar to Jihad Ward last year (I hated the Ward pick last year).  Some had him going in the 4th and even 5th round.  Even with his top billing out of high school, Vanderdoes is not a good pass rusher.  He has only 4 sacks in 3 years and is more suited to be a rotational DT run stopper.  McKenzie said he wanted the DL to get more athletic and they’ve done that with Vanderdoes but he’s not going to help their pass rush.

Overview:  This is far from solving the Raiders DT issue but the pick isn’t a bad one.  Again, DB’s rule the day in Oakland and the Raiders reach for a guy that isn’t a pass rusher.  I think he can help the DL but a third rounder with question marks isn’t going to get you to the next level when you are last in the NFL in sacks.

4th Round:  David Sharpe OT Florida

Positives:  HUGE.  He’s 6’ 6” tall and 350 lbs. and that might be before meals.  He’s a monstrous tackle.  If he can get his hands on defenders, he usually blocks them.  Surprisingly good pull blocker on occasional running plays and has strong hands.  A hard worker that showed up every week.

Weaknesses:  He plays like a statue in pass protection.  Anyone that watched a lot of SEC ball knows he’s not quick and he struggled with the speed end rushers of the SEC.  Florida was only 10th in allowed sacks in the SEC and at times defending the pass rush was a big problem.  Already some are saying he’s a guard trapped in a tackles body.  Think of a little bit stiffer and slower Robert Gallery who also had to be switched to guard after struggling at tackle.

Overview:  Raiders like them big at OL and this wasn’t the worst pick but after watching him struggle at times in the SEC with speed edge rushers, it’s hard to think he’s quick enough to play tackle in the NFL.  They will try him there but guard may suit him better, and I like him there.

5th Round:  Marquel Lee LB Wake Forrest

Positives:  Had great numbers at Wake Forrest.  He’s lean and athletic and has the speed to make plays on the outside.  Not bad in pass coverage but not great.  He is a pretty good tackler in the open field using his speed and length to take down runners.  A smart player with good leadership abilities, who was well liked by his coaches.  Consistent player who will always give his best effort and is good to have on your team.

Negatives.  More of a speed/finesse player than a physical player.  Not a physical tackler.  He has great numbers but on a bad team with a bad defense that went 13-24 the last two years.  He’s lean and only weighs 235 so his skill set and body type are more for an OLB and not an MLB.  Again, not really an attacking play maker but he gets the job done.

Overview:  I think he has potential to be a starting OLB, maybe even this year.  The Raiders LB’s have holes in their game and he has a chance for playing time.  Some Raider writers have him starting at MLB already and that is ridiculous in my mind.  They are writing with their heart and not their head.  He wen’t in the 5th round for a reason.  He’s a nice 5th round pick but if he’s your starting MLB, you’ve got issues.

7th Round:  Shalom Luani S Washington St.

Shalom played on a team that used him mostly in zone defenses.  He’s a high effort guy but is a bad tackler and at times WSU actually hid him in their zone defense to allow him to roam over guarding players one on one.  The Cougars aren’t exactly into defense to be honest. Mike Leach teams are about one thing; offense.

7th Round:  Jylan Ware OT Alabama St.

A long term project.  He is 6’ 8”, 290 pounds.  He has to add bulk.  Scouts say he needs more speed and a lot of coaching to improve his technique.  Hard pressed to make the team.

7th Round:  Elijah Hood RB North Carolina

Hood was a star coming out of high school.  He’s had good years at NC but last year he had somewhat pedestrian numbers.  Most thought he would go back to college for one more year to improve his stock.

A straight ahead runner with not much speed.  He might be good for short yardage but he’s an excellent pass blocker and not a bad pass catcher so that may help him get time too.  A banger who isnt’ going to outrun anyone.

7th Round Treyvon Hester DT Toledo

He will have a hard time making the team but they could keep him on the practice squad.  He has potential.  He had a nice senior year and works hard.  Has a lot to learn and is a long term project.  May have the potential to be a run stopping DT in a rotational system.

Reuben Foster, Curtis Samuel
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (10) hits Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel (4) in the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal game, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Jim’s Jamz:

Do I think the Raiders had an awesome draft?  No.  But I also think it wasn’t bad either. Conley is a good cover guy and should be a good player at CB.  The Raiders DB’s have struggled with injuries so he will see playing time I’m sure.  With Sean Smith and David Amerson’s contacts coming up next year without a cap hit, the Raiders are counting on Conley to learn quickly because he will probably be starting next year.  And if Obi can learn how to play safety in the NFL, they may have a great player on their hands.

Since 2001 the Raiders have amazingly drafted a DB in the first round 7 times!  Only 1 of them panned out but that includes Joseph who we don’t know about yet.  That’s a ton of busts. Time and time again the best defenses in the NFL can do 2 things; stop the run and rush the passer.  The Raiders struggled doing either last year.  Vanderdoes might help out against the run but the pass rush will pretty much be the same.

As I said in week one of last year; this defense is not a championship defense and I say the same now, but roster moves could still be ahead.  MLB’s and DT’s are becoming a rarity in the pro game so passing up on Foster was the wrong thing to do in my mind especially when next years draft so far also seems to be void of them both.  That could change obviously but the Raiders said loud and clear that their DB’s right now aren’t good enough and they want an upgrade.  Meet you back here in 2-3 years to see how they did.

“Answering All Questions About Gareon Conley & Who the Raiders May Get on Day 2 of the NFL Draft”

ConleyJog
Gareon Conley Playing Against Oklahoma in Norman, OK

As I wrote yesterday, hold onto your hats, this NFL draft would be a crazy one.  It didn’t disappoint.

With the QB position being at maybe it’s worse position in the modern era, teams were trading up to gamble on prospects that some feel are reaches at best.  Let’s face it though. In the modern NFL, if you are tall and can throw far, they will look at you.  I think in 10 years you will look back on this draft and ask what some teams were thinking while they made their picks.

The controversy was also seen in Oakland.  Raider fans for the most part were divided when Ohio St. CB Gareon Conley was chosen by the Raiders with the 24th pick.  With MLB Reuben Foster falling into their laps, the Raiders chose to pass and picked Conley who is being investigated for rape allegations made against him.  Let’s answer all your questions about him.

Why Draft Conley When He’s Being Investigated & May Be Guilty:

First off, name the long list of athletes that have done jail time for sexual assault or battery in the last 10 years…………………..

After reading a lot on it, I don’t know if anything happened and neither does the police.  I think the case will be dropped and nothing will happen and it will be forgotten.  Some fans say, “well he was seen with her so he didn’t do anything”.  Ridiculous.  The Stanford swimmer that was convicted of rape was also seen with that girl.  Just because you are walking around with one another doesn’t mean a rape wasn’t committed.

Fans love their athletes and most will defend them.  It’s a little sick but some people are no longer into right and wrong anymore, they are into if that player is a member of the team they like or not.  I deal with the facts.

Even when athletes are guilty they usually get off due to good lawyers.  And even if they are convicted, jail time rarely if ever happens.  Conley should be cleared soon and this will soon be forgotten.  Again I’m not saying he’s innocent or guilty, I’m just saying you have to have evidence and it’s not there.

But Jim, I Thought the Raiders Wanted High Character Guys?:

Anyone trust Aldon Smith to house sit while you are on vacation?  When you read about all of his felonies and misdemeanors over the years you wonder how the guy is still walking the streets let alone being previously signed by the Raiders.  I saw one Facebook post last night saying there was a conspiracy to keep Smith in trouble so the Raiders can’t get him.  And people were agreeing with him!!  OMG!  Stay away from drugs kids.

The Raiders DO want high character guys, but they also want to win.  With Carr & Mack being the main leaders and high character guys, you can live with others not being that.  Some NFL players are not angels by any means so you take the good with the bad.  Conley probably didn’t do anything and overall he’s not been a trouble maker, but the real reason you draft him is because he helps you win.  Fan’s shouldn’t be naïve about this stuff anymore.

Reuben Foster, Curtis Samuel
Reuben Foster Tackling OSU Player

Don’t Listen to Draft Rumors:

I heard a lot of people saying people are worried about Fosters injury.  Let’s look into that. NFL teams and the people that report them over the years have lost a lot of people millions of dollars with school girl rumors.  Some turn out to be true, but some don’t.

False rumors swirled that Dan Marino was into drugs and he dropped in the draft like a stone.  And remember Aaron Rodgers?  He went from being a possible overall #1 pick to waiting 4 hours to be picked.  Why?  Because 2 draft “gurus” said that he held the ball too high (remember that?) and that he was a system QB under head coach Jeff Tedford.  All of a sudden everyone worried about him.  Just because of silly rumors.  So who was the #1 pick?  Alex Smith who was from the biggest system of all, the spread at Utah.  Can’t make this stuff up folks.

Ten minutes before the 2015 draft, ESPN was reporting on their radio show that DT Leonard Williams may have a severe shoulder injury that might keep him out for the year.  Well, Williams has played 31 of the 32 games so far in his career but the damage was done.  Some thought he was a top 3 pick but he dropped to the Jets at 6.  Star Lotulelei was an amazing drop when he was drafted.  He had a virus that made some of his heart tests abnormal so teams just forgot him.  He eventually was proved to be ok. For this year think Reuben Foster and all the drama with his injury, especially when doctors are saying he will be ready in time for the July camps.

Why Conley Was a Good Pick:

Many fans have finally convinced me that many NFL fans aren’t exactly the biggest college football fans.  Oh, they will watch the big games or the playoffs but overall it’s not their thing.

For those of us that are addicted to college football, Ohio States defensive backs had a big reputation last year.  Other than CB Marshon Lattimore, the Buckeyes DB’s were very one dimensional.  The dimension that they all excelled in was that they knew how to cover.  Conley is an excellent cover guy with length and speed.  He’s not as athletic or talented as Marshon Lattimore, but he’s very good.  Ohio St. plays a lot of man to man and he handled it well rarely getting beaten badly.  He always seemed to be near or on the ball.

He can cover in the slot, man to man and also in zone press coverage and that type of player is hard to find.  I really like his coverage skills and feel he’s a guy that can start in 2 years, if not this year if Amerson and Smith continue to struggle.  Some have said move Smith to Safety but I think that is a reach and it remains to be seen if that will happen and if Smith can handle it.

The Raiders are stuck with Sean Smith and David Amerson’s money this year but next year they can be let go without any dead money against the salary cap.  Amerson was found out last year; he struggles against the deep ball and Sean Smith was much better when he had the Chiefs pass rush and safeties helping him.  Conley will at least be used in nickel and dime packages and as a backup to the starters.  His quality cover skills in the slot also help him get on the field.  Again, I’m a big fan of Conley’s cover skills.

Why Conley Wasn’t a Good Pick:

There are TONS; and I mean TONS of CB’s and safeties left on the board that are very good.  This draft is full of them.  There are little to no DT’s and MLB’s left.  Reuben Foster fell into the lap of the Raiders.  It wasn’t as bad as Star Lotulelei and DJ Hayden but they needed Foster badly.  The Raiders defensive front 7 is like a big donut right now.  The 49ers gobbled Foster up like a Thanksgiving Turkey pulling off one of the best first rounds in a while.

Some say teams were worried about his rotator cuff surgery.  Reports how have him ready before July training camp.  In the last 2 years Foster played in every game and almost every practice.  His stats are amazing, with most of his big numbers coming against the best teams in the biggest games.  Some ill-informed people yesterday were tweeting that he was too injury prone.  The facts don’t agree.

The NFL draft isn’t Costco.  Just because you want salmon doesn’t mean they are going to have salmon.  People say well now draft a DT or MLB. Well who?  Foster was a near for sure thing and now you have question marks left.  Jihad Ward was a bad pick last year at DT and he was not a big factor even though he started most games and played in all of them.  No sacks & no tackles for losses.  Their depth chart at DT and MLB doesn’t scare anyone.

As we said before, Ohio St. DB’s were mostly one dimensional.  Good, finesse cover guys but not good tacklers who weren’t very physical.

I agreed TOTALLY with Jon Gruden.  Ohio St. Safety Malik Hooker was very overrated and as a safety you can’t be that bad against the run.  It reminded me a little bit like Michael Huff when he came out.  Conley also struggled against the run and he isnt’ very physical.

The Michigan game also showed Conley struggling against the crossing routes and slants of the Michigan WR.  He’s not physical with players off the ball at all and seemed to get lost with WR in front of him instead of chasing them down the field.

Clemson fans are still talking about 5’ 9”, 175 lb. WR Ray-Ray McClouds one on one obliteration block on Conley in the Tigers 31-0 playoff win against Ohio St. last year.  So again, Conley is a good cover guy, and not a good run stopper with a lack of physicality.

With Washington CB’s Sidney Jones and Kevin King still available along with countless others, picking Conley over Foster hurts my head.

Raiders Day 2: What Will Happen:

Here are some guys that may be picked by the Raiders in their quest to fix the defense.

Chris Wormley, DT/DE Michigan:

This is my next pick if he’s there, which I think he will be.  He’s physical, very muscular and can play inside and out.  He’s a leader type who the coaches love.  He was inconsistent at times so that has to change but let’s face it, every player left is going to have some mark against them.

Malik McDowell, DT/DE Michigan St.

Because there are so few DT’s that can pressure the QB in this draft, the Raiders may take a chance on McDowell.

I don’t think I’ve seen a guys attitude ripped on by more teams than with McDowell.  At the pre-draft meetings with teams, he was ripped apart for his bad attitude and abrasiveness.  At MSU the Spartans media talked about his bad temper and him seemingly more worried about beating up the player he was against more than playing football.  There was also disappointment in his play and effort when Michigan State’s season began to go bad.  I don’t think Malik will get many good references.  A talented head case is what one media guy called him.

Zach Cunningham, MLB Vanderbilt

Zach has climbed up the draft ladder and though he’s not my favorite pick he would not be bad.  He’s smart, a good leader and he’s consistent while making plays.  He’s an amazing athlete which the NFL loves but he’s only 230-235 and he’ll need to put on some weight for MLB.  He’s also not the most physical guy and MLB’s are usually physical studs.  Again, he’s not Foster but he’s not bad.

Cam Robinson, OT Alabama:

If he’s still there I take him.  I’m the first to say the Raiders need defense badly, but this is ridiculous.  First Allen, then Foster and now Robinson falling?  The New York Giants really screwed up by not taking this guy.  Alabama players are dropping like stones.  This guy has 10 year right tackle written all over him.

Day 2 and 3 are where teams GM’s really make their money.  It will be interesting to see what the Raiders do from here on out with limited available talents in positions that they need, especially on defense.

“The Tragic Loss of Raider Derrick Jensen & the Mounting List of Players ALS & CTE are Claiming”

Derrick_Jensen2

The nightmare continues.

When ESPN’s article on the money grab which is the brain injury lawsuit against the NFL came out recently, it showed just how little is being done for former NFL players struggling with head injuries. So far they have not seen one dime of the settlement money. With lawyers charging outrageous fees, and medical corporations and doctors practically targeting them, you wonder how much money the players will really see. The extreme greed is hard to watch.  The sad part is, more players are being diagnosed with ALS and CTE and many feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/19029607/billion-dollar-nfl-concussion-settlement-turns-nasty-lawyers-others-vie-pieces-payouts-players

Studies now show NFL players are 4-5 times more likely to get ALS than the regular public. The famous Italian soccer study showed Italian soccer players were 6 times more likely to get it. Severe forms of CTE are now feared to be a cause of ALS.  Former woman’s US soccer star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to CTE studies. The first MMA fighter has now been thought to have CTE. Even BMX legend Dave Mirra was shown to have CTE after his suicide at the age of 41.

Now present and former NHL players are coming out to talk about it.   If you thought the NFL was obtuse about head injuries, the NHL makes them look like Mother Theresa. They sued to block their emails dating back to as much as 10 years ago trying to block studies on the effects of concussions partly because they didn’t want to limit fighting.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl-doctor-slams-situational-ethics-on-concussions-in-unsealed-lawsuit-documents-1.708729

Last month the NFL world was shocked and dismayed to hear that former 49er great Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS. Alabama great Kevin Turner; an 8 year veteran of the NFL; died last year at 46 from ALS. He was one of the key witnesses in the CTE trials v.s. the NFL. His brain was later studied and he was found to have severe CTE damage. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.

Raiders stud FB Steve Smith has been battling ALS for 15 years. And sadly the Raiders and Seattle families lost a valuable person last week in Derrick Jensen.

I still remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last March saying he personally still didn’t think there was a link to head injuries, concussions and CTE.   That’s what players are up against.

Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honoring Derrick Jensen
Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honor former Raider Derrick Jensen before Seattle Seahawks game

Derrick Jensen Loses His Battle With ALS:

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Mourn-the-Passing-of-Derrick-Jensen/ca64a3e6-8b9d-4ceb-8815-1a93ad9ba9d0

Raiders super sub and special teams captain Derrick Jensen lost his battle with ALS last week after being diagnosed in 2012. Jensen was 60. He was a key member of the Raiders and won 2 Super Bowls. In the first 5 minutes of Super Bowl XVIII, Derrick blocked a Washington punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone for a huge win against a team that most in the media at that time was calling the best ever.   I remember pretty much going insane as a kid when it happened.

derrick jensen 2
Davis & Derrick Jensen

Derrick was a solid and valuable player, but he also was a long time respected scout for the Seattle Seahawks with over 2 decades of amazing evaluations.   He was beloved for his kindness and respect towards people. He was eclectic and fun and went out of his way to just say hi to Seattle staffers.   You would be hard pressed to find a more loved guy. His death was a great loss to the NFL. The Seahawks have renamed their draft room in his honor. Sadly Derrick lost his wife Amanda in 2009 in a car accident and now his 19 y/o son Davis (in honor of Al? I don’t know) must go on without his parents.

http://www.seahawks.com/news/2017/04/07/seahawks-remember-longtime-scout-derrick-jensen

A 5-Star Must Read Book on Players & Their Families Fighting CTE:

Many are reading this book in one sitting.  If you want to get a raw, in depth look at what players & families go through with CTE, read Cyndy Feasel’s book “After the Cheering Stops”. Her late husband Grant Feasel; a former Seattle Seahawk OL; was struck by CTE and this story is an amazing one. I can’t recommend this book enough. Grant sadly, was far from being the only one.  RIP Grant.

http://afterthecheeringstops.com/

NFL Royalty Now Struggling:

When Ken Stabler’s partner Kim Ross-Bush came out talking about the CTE symptoms that Ken was suffering from, it seemed that more people started to listen.   Sadly, the list of players struggling continues to grow.

Cowboys great Tony Dorsett has done several national interviews talking about his battle with depression, mood swings and extreme memory loss.  Ex-Raider/Eagle/49er RB Charlie Garner says he can’t go anywhere without someone coming with him because he forgets where his car is & has trouble in conversations.

NFL Royalty and super man Gale Sayers barely talks anymore.  One of the most articulate and smart people in NFL history, can no longer remember some people or even carry on simple conversations.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Detroit Lion legend Mel Farr died in 2015 and it was shown he had severe CTE which he suspected.  At one time Mel had the largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Frank Wycheck, Mike Adamle, and so many others are now saying they are afraid of what lies ahead with their symptoms.  Raider great George Atkinson says it’s hitting him as well and Phil Villapiano says it’s the scary thing everyone is talking about.  Their memories fading, while their thoughts get lost in a fog.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/18585718/former-detroit-lions-rb-mel-farr-had-stage-3-cte-died-2015

These aren’t dumb football players folks. These are smart, articulate, and successful men who contributed great things to the NFL and they are now losing their faculties. AND STILL, no support from the NFL.

The NFL Needs a Wake Up Call:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/football/fate-dwight-clark-gale-sayers-reaffirm-nfl-not-doing-enough/oh3s4BqtAVhI6nye7XQbEN/

People have changed in our country and some leave their brains at the door.  If some belong to a political party, love a football team or belong to an organization, they will blindly defend it no matter what.  Right and wrong no longer matters to them.  It’s like they take it personally if someone questions what they are a part of.  It’s pathetic and insecure to be honest.  You can’t fix problems unless you admit them.

The NFL see’s that same phenomena.  “Don’t be a hater, don’t be negative; you are a troll”. It’s like a bunch of cult members are walking around saying question nothing. To admit a terrible mistake by something they belong to or like is out of the question.

“I’m loyal from the crib to the grave. Win lose or tie, loyal til I die”. These are sayings that are seen often in fan groups of all NFL teams.   Unfortunately the league, the teams, and the owners don’t feel the same. They will move to another city without a worry, buy off politicians and not support the players that made them rich while not thinking twice about it. Their goal is one thing; make more money.  Some NFL fans are the abused spouses of the sporting world and they don’t even know it; enabling the NFL to the end blindly defending anything they do, or fail to do.

Cheerleaders had to sue to get minimum wage and the overwhelming support in social media was for the NFL. The names these women were called by some male fans on social media shouldn’t be repeated. The Ref’s were destroyed by fans for wanting to be full time employees with full time training and salaries. This would greatly improve the calls in games and improve the integrity of the game. Sadly the “cash strapped” NFL said they couldn’t afford to pay them full time. Most fans backed the NFL and told refs to get other jobs if you don’t like it.

The treatment of the retired players is worse. Our society has lost it’s ability to be compassionate, especially to elderly people. If I wrote a story about Derek Carr giving someone a ride, I’d get thousands of readers an hour. Talk about the sad demise of a great player from the past and the numbers drop significantly with a yawn. It’s too sad and no one wants to bother.

What Can We Do:

It will take maturity and confidence from fans to create change. First, we can listen. We can listen to the players and their families.   We can support them by complaining to the league and owners in social media or in actually writing letters that we need to respect them and their needs. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The NFL was going to do nothing in the Ray Rice case until fans were outraged when TMZ proved them to be liars.

The NBA had a known racist, Donald Sterling as an owner.  They knew and supported him for years through his racist actions and rants.  They defended him until a video came out that was seen by fans.  The outrage was epic and public opinion forced the NBA to get rid of him.  Professional leagues morals are based on money & public opinion.

We can also support pages, stories and the players themselves.   Instead of putting up that 1000th team meme or 5000th cat photo on Facebook, teach yourself and/or your kids about the history of the teams and the great players from the past. These players sacrificed a great deal to play football and many were extremely loyal to the cities and fans.  Some became integral parts of the community with many living and dying in the area they played in. We need to stop acting like 18 y/o gang members and respect all players from all teams. You can hate a team or player in fun but remember we are all in this game called life, and that is much more important than any football rivalry or team loyalty.

What is happening to retired players is unacceptable and we need to be the answer. You can still love football and the players in it while not condoning some of the actions of the NFL and the owners. The NFL’s actions show it is loyal to one thing; money. It is their god. Well it’s not mine. They are not loyal to players, fans, cheerleaders, cities and even the refs.   I’m not letting ANY corporation or person use me or disrespect me, and you shouldn’t either. Look at their actions, and not the words. Love the game, and the teams and players but be respectful of what’s going on.  And if we are as loyal and respectful to the game as we say, let’s make a difference and show the NFL that the sport is about the people in it, and not the profit from it.