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Consider the state of affairs in Raider Nation, and you'll wonder, as this writer does, why they even bother to field a team any more.

Consider the state of affairs in Raider Nation, and you'll wonder, as this writer does, why they even bother to field a team any more. While their aging owner ails in his wheelchair, he watches a once-great football franchise edging ever-closer to the brink of becoming a permanent laughing-stock in the N.F.L. It's one thing to have a bad game. We'll even admit that some of Oakland's players are very good players. But it is quite another thing to see a team like Oakland, which is the antithesis of what good teams are. Most good teams become greater than the sum of their parts. But in Oakland, we see evidence of the opposite. A team which is nothing but parts, misassembled, unguided, and completely dysfunctional.

You have talent like Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess. Your defense should be better than they are. You have Randy Moss, LaMont Jordan and Jerry Porter, yet you can not muster points on offense.

At some point, you have to place the blame on not just the players, but on the coaches. The coaches of years gone by have received their share and more of criticism. I believe it is time to rest the blame for the dilapidated condition of the Raiders squarely where it belongs. Al Davis.

Al Davis is doing to his football team, through his own egotism and incompetence, permanent damage. As long as he insists on being the ultimate authority with regard to personnel and coaching desicions, you could hire a consortium of the greatest minds in the history of football and likely do not much better. Al Davis has driven away good coaches(John Gruden), has meddled in the everyday coaching of the team, and maybe that's OK. It's his money, and it's his team.

The ugly truth about the Raiders is that good, even great players, and good, perhaps great coaches, have not been able to neutralize the affects that Al Davis has on the team. That's why they lose, and that's why the carousel of coaches and players has been so dramatic for the Raiders. Maybe the reason Art Shell is back is because he is the one guy that can take all of it without busting a gut.

Is it pretty to watch? Yes...because I am a Bronco fan, and no, because I am a football fan. As much as I like beating the Raiders, part of me wishes that all of our rival teams in the division would at least play us at full strength and bring out the best in our team.

On second thought...it is only the Raiders...let's enjoy this train-wreck in slow-motion!



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