Q. The big game coming up, how much more does it mean playing this rivalry on a Monday night?
RICH GANNON: I think there's always significance playing on a Monday night. I think it's obviously a national television audience and it's the Game of the Week, and I think that, obviously, the players around the League get pretty excited about playing Monday Night Football.
Q. What are the biggest challenges Denver's defense presents?
RICH GANNON: You look at them this year and they do have a little different philosophy with Ray Rhodes, but at the same time, they are still very aggressive. You know, very stingy against the run, and, you know, have played some very, very good offensive football teams and have done a real nice job containing them. Still, they will come at you and press you in certain situations. Still, like I said, really in my opinion, they have really helped themselves with the addition of a couple free agents, is really producing a lot of push up front, defensive line. They have also picked up Leon Lett; Bill Romanowski is sill playing at a very high level and they are still a very, very good football team.
Q. How much of your success in Oakland has been due to simple opportunity as opposed to your development as a quarterback?
RICH GANNON: Well, I think, obviously, I was really fortunate to have some good coaching and being a consistent ‑‑ I can't say that ‑‑ in my opinion really kind of propelled my career a little bit. But I think more than anything, I just needed an opportunity to really get with an organization, a team, with a coaching staff that believed in me and was going to give me a chance to play each week. I felt like when I played in Kansas City, I played well; we won. I just wanted to be able to play every week and not, you know, half the season. Fortunately, for me, though it took a while, I finally got that opportunity here in Oakland.
Q. Could you talk about what you found there? I read about the locker room and how you imposed your will a little bit; what were the things that you felt you had to do?
RICH GANNON: Well, that's been well documented and I don't know if I want to get into all that three years afterwards. There were some problems here and obviously, I came from a different organization, a different system and different philosophy of beliefs, and I just saw some things here that I didn't think were, you know, were right. I voiced my opinion and some of those things were addressed, and, you know, some people made a big issue out of it.
Others realized it was probably the right thing, but regardless, I mean, I think I need to be true to who I am. And I think we have developed a certain toughness, a certain sense of belief in ourselves that we can go out and compete with anybody and play with anybody. And if you go back and look at our record the last three years, we have been in every football game with a chance to win. I'm not saying we won them all, but we have been with in every game with a chance to win and that's all you can ask for.
Q. Considering some of the key guys on your team, yourself Rice and Brown, and is this kind of like this year, next year, you look at this as a key window for these guys?
RICH GANNON: I think every team looks at it like that. When you go back and look at the past couple of Super Bowl winners, you realize that it does not take much to make a run. You look at Baltimore, came out of nowhere, the Rams came out of nowhere; it doesn't take much to establish as a really caliber football team. So we feel like we have been on the verge of building something special the last few years, and we got close last year. Hopefully this year if we can stay healthy and continue to play at that high level with some consistency, we have a chance to do something special.
Q. How frustrating has it been for you guys to not be able to beat Denver with as good of a football team as you've had, and is that part of the key Monday night?
RICH GANNON: There's obviously been some frustration with it. You know, in the past, we made a big deal, a big emphasis out of playing Denver and trying to beat them, like we would any team in any AFC West divisional game. But I think more than that this year, I think that we realize we are a good football team. We are not going to get carried away, get crazy with this Denver deal. We have not played very well against them. We have turned the ball over, really, in the games against them; that's really been the difference.
We are just going to try and focus on continuing to improve ourselves as a football team, and hopefully, as I said we go out there and put our best effort out there and have some success Monday night.
Q. Do you feel like you have more offensive weapons with this Raiders team than you've ever had in your career?
RICH GANNON: I think so. I think that the addition of a couple of guys, and in particular, Charlie Garner and Jerry Rice, really, I think established us and enabled us to really do some things we were not able to do a year ago.
Q. Could you talk about Jerry, if you have not already? A lot of people had questions whether he had a lot of game left. What's your opinion now about halfway through the season in playing with him?
RICH GANNON: The interesting thing about him, and I made this comment before, is that the thing that strikes me about Jerry is that although he's in the 17th year, 18th year, whatever it is, I really feel like he feels like he can get better as a football player. Now, that's pretty amazing and pretty scary, when you think about it. But I really feel like he's in a new system. He's being asked to do some different things that he has not been asked to do in the past. I think he feels like it's challenging to him. I think he feels like, you know, he's got a lot of catching up to do. I think these are the things he thinks about this system and the way that we do our business here. I think that he gets excited about that. He gets excited about challenges and opportunities, and I think that there are plenty of them for him here and Oakland.
Q. You mentioned that you were able to do some things with Garner and Rice there that you have not been able to do. Can you expand on that? What specifically are you talking about?
RICH GANNON: I think that Charlie Garner is an exceptional football player. I think that not only is he a great runner, but his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays after the catch is huge. I think that if you look at his production in San Francisco's offense the last couple of years, I think he caught close to 60 balls ‑‑ 60, 70 balls last year out of the backfield. We have not had that caliber of player who is able to do that out of the backfield like Charlie in the past. And also, when you add Jerry Rice into the mix from an offensive standpoint, not taking anything away from other guys, but let's be honest, he is Jerry Rice. He is, you know, one of best to ever play the game. And I think that when you add him into the mix, I think that aside from the fact that it keeps defenses guessing and off balance, this guy, he is still one of the best in the game.
You can say he's lost a step or you can say that he's not the same Jerry Rice he was ten years ago; I don't really know. I don't really care. I just know that he's as good as I've seen at that position in a long time, and you know you add him and Tim Brown together and that puts some pressure and it puts defenses in a real jam sometimes.
Q. What's the Raiders secret here? You are one of the few teams that have been able to be consistent so far this year.
RICH GANNON: I think we have a good football team. I think our defense has played really well and our kicking game has been good. Our two young kickers have kicked real well this year. Our punter, Shane Lechler, has done a nice job. Janikowski has missed I think only one or two field goals. I think that, combined with the fact that offensively, we have not turned the ball over. We have been pretty good in that area. And we are going to score points. We are going to move the ball on people. I just think that there's not really any one particular area that you can address and say, "Well, this is why they are having success." I think that we have worked very hard at it and we take a lot of pride in our preparation and performance each week and I think it shows.
Q. The Broncos, what do you think about their secondary that you've seen on film? What's your opinion of them?
RICH GANNON: I think they are playing with a lot of confidence right now, making a lot of plays. You know, a very good group of players, very athletic on the corners and safeties that are not afraid to come up and hit you, very physical players. So I think that they are secondary is ‑‑ I said, playing at a very high level right now. I think they lead the National Football League, the two corners, in interceptions by a secondary, if I am not mistaken. I think the one guy has six or something. So, you know, hey, you've got to give them credit. They are playing very, very well right now and it will be a big test and a big challenge come Monday.
Q. What do you make of this NFL season? Other than you guys and probably the Rams, it has been a little topsy turvy in the NFL?
RICH GANNON: Well, I think that everybody has problems. I used to always think that we were the only team that had problems, and you look around and you say, "Well, maybe other teams have problems, too." I'm not talking about off the field problems so much, but every has issues, whether it be a guy not performing well, injuries, whatever. You know, we have our issues. We have our problems. We have some guys who are hurt, you know, and we have lost two key players for the season. We lost our center for the year and we lost probably one of our best defensive players in Armstrong, a guy who was really coming in and adding a big spark for us.
So we have our problems. But for the longest time, it just seemed like, you go through the season, you think, "Well, geez, we are the only ones that have problems." But there's a lot of teams that are struggling right now that are very, very good football teams. You look at the Ravens and that is a team that certainly in my opinion will be a playoff team. I think that you look at their defense and they are playing very, very well. You look at their offense; they are a better team rushing the football than they were a year ago, better team throwing the ball than they were a year ago. The thing that's killed them is the turnovers. They put the ball on the ground and it's cost them a couple of games. That's just one example.
You look at Chicago, they are a team that's much improved. It seems like they are getting a lot of play out of their defense. I have not watched a lot of them, but it seemed like their defense was much improved from a year ago. They have added some players. And the linebacker seems like he's a big player in that mix, and I think that they are playing smart. They don't turn the ball over and they are getting turnovers on defense. As a result, they are 5‑1. So I think there's a lot of parity in the National Football League right now. I don't know that there's many teams on any given Sunday that are that much better than somebody else. I think in the past, you had that and I don't know if you have as much of that anymore. I think there's maybe two or three teams that are better than the rest, and there's probably two or three teams that are not very good right now, you know; and there's probably 25 or 26 teams that like ourselves are in the middle there somewhere and just, you know, trying to find a way to win on Sunday.
Q. Have you guys heard the rumors circulating about your coach and Notre Dame and all that; and if so, how has it affected you?
RICH GANNON: Well, there's been talk about that. There's talk about him going to Ohio State a year ago. I mean, there's talk about a lot of things. He addressed it and just said that it's nothing more than rumors. Like I said, he's been great for us and he's helped us to get where we are, and I'm sure that he's going to continue to do everything he can to win a championship. That's really all I know about that situation.
Q. Would you like to start running more than you did last year? How come you are not running as much as last year?
RICH GANNON: Not particularly. Unless I have to. I am 35. I want to play as long as I can. I know that by running the football, there's a price to pay, and, I mean, to be honest with you, I look to run when there's an opportunity to run, and not out of habit, but out of necessity more so. And I think that we've been on rhythm this year in our passing game and the protection has been very, very good and there has not been a whole lot of opportunities for me to run the football. So I'm not going to drop back and like some of these other young players, to try and pull the ball down and try and make eight or ten yards around the ball. I'm just not going to do it.