Davis thinks Raiders "have a chance"

Al Davis spoke with reporters for more than an hour Wednesday and spoke on a variety of topics, including the recent passing of legendary NFL coach Bill Walsh, the players' association's system for retired players, Oakland's acquisition of Daunte Culpepper and the continued holdout of No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell.

Here is a portion of the hour-long interview, which was conducted at the team's training camp facilities in Napa.

On Bill Walsh:

Bill Walsh was a fierce competitor, a competitor of mine, a close friend. He was a rival, He represented an organization that we were fighting for, and fighting against, but yet, our friendship endured, and I can only tell you how proud I am that approximately two to three weeks ago, Bill came to our place to the Oakland Raider complex to watch practice, to meet our new coach, to talk about life as we've always talked about it. And it wasn't always football. We were both into what's going in Iraq, Iran, we both had the solutions for world, and what's going on with China, and the Middle East, and all the spheres of influence.

We used to laugh and say what are we doing with these football organizations, and here we are talking about world events as if we know something about it, and we always say that not everyone who writes about us knows what's going on with us, so how do we all know all the facts about the world events and all, but we seem to think we did.

What I hope to do, is with your help, and if someone can come up with a perfect solution, we name an award, a quarterback award in this country, after Bill Walsh. What we would do at the end of the year, when the award is given, have a lunch … and bring back everybody. Especially, a lot of the old-timers, who don't get a chance to meet with each other from time to time, and I thought it would be thrilling, it would be inspiration to us all. He's deserving.

On Jim Otto's health situation:

We've lived day to day with another problem in our organization. Jim Otto had his right leg amputated above the knee. He is in a Salt Lake City hospital and there are a few things they're trying to clear up so that he could fly to his home in Auburn, at which time he will go through rehabilitation and prosthesis for his right leg.

It's been, as you know with him, a tremendous fight. He's lived through it now for three years, day in and day out. But it finally came. He fought the amputation. He didn't want it. He fought it. But there was no other thing to do but to amputate.

And Jack Tatum having a decent solution to amputation, if that can be held true, he went ahead and did it. And they did it about two weeks ago. We hope that nothing occurs with an infection or something like that that derails him. So we've lived with that, we've had one or two others in our organization with their families, people fighting for their life. It's been tough.

On the job head coach Lane Kiffin is doing:

Lane has done an excellent job of getting this team to a point. But we expect it, that's what we hired him for. He's just doing his job.

The biggest thing I worry about is injuries. We got a chance, we've got some good players. We got a chance to show something, but I worry about injuries. And not ready to make any commentary on the team or anything like that.

On retired NFL players and their benefits:

I'm a great believer in the retired players, especially having been the commissioner of the American Football League, been a coach in the American Football League, and I believe that Gene Upshaw believes in the retired players strongly. And Roger Goodell, to his credit, believes in the retired players strongly.

And there's a plan being floated right now that would give us an opportunity to take care of the retired players in four areas. One is pension. Two is medical. Three is disability, clear up the bureaucracy on the disability. And four, perhaps dire need if it's not charity. Dire need if it's not charity. By that I mean if somebody gotten a lot of money, made a lot of money, gone into business and lost his money in business, we can't take care of every charity case.

It's those who didn't get the money in the early years who deserve it, who are the forerunners. Pensions are short, there's no question. Gene knows it, he's looking for a way. Roger knows it, he's looking for a way.

On negotiations with No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell:

The two things I am always concerned about -- they are forfeiture and accountability. Whenever we give a bonus or money to a rookie and with the recent decision, the Ashley Lelie decision in court, option bonuses are very tough to get the money back if some player doesn't show up or some player wants to hold out or player tells the coach to go to hell, anybody who is not being able to be held accountable or being able to forfeiture some of his money if he doesn't adhere to what he is supposed to do, that is what I am concerned about.

Our only problem with the Russell contract is they want all the money as an option bonus and I will not do that. They have to be held accountable on forfeiture. the option bonus has to say … be it an option bonus or a regular bonus or a roster bonus ... that if he doesn't show up for training camp on time we can get some of that money back. They have to be able to be held accountable.

That's the only thing with JaMarcus. It's not money. That's ridiculous. It's the option bonus. They want all the money in option bonus. (His agents) have the first choice they've ever had and they've got to come through with a decent deal, otherwise they are done in the market. That is the story on JaMarcus.

On Daunte Culpepper being ready for the season-opener:

I can't make that determination yet until I watch him for awhile, until I see how Josh McCown comes through or Andrew (Walter) comes through. Josh has certain qualities we like that Rich Gannon had. we have to see.

We have to see, and it will be up to Lane. He's got to feel comfortable with the guy. But we want to give it some time.

On former Raider Randy Moss:

Maybe I was thinking that if I were coaching. Maybe I felt if I were coaching that it would be different. I took Randy Moss because I had a big deep thrower in Kerry Collins and Norv Turner and I thought that he could fit in. But as we started losing and different things started to unfold and Randy got hurt ….

if Lane felt that was best for the team right now I was going to do it. And we did it. We didn't get near what we should have. There were too many people behind the scenes kind of hurt us in our organization.

So what I'm saying to you is Randy Moss, if he's well, can still play, in my opinion. Our coaches didn't think so. Randy Moss just couldn't get it done for us. Whereas Jerry Rice was going to get it done for Jerry Rice, for himself, for everyone. Just different personalities.

On the prospects of a successful season:

I feel that we're an underdog right now. Every one of you have got me believing we're an underdog. I did feel and I have always felt this, that we can overcome anything. In 1980 we were picked last. There's no question about it. You can go back and get the clips from the newspapers, last in our division and we came out of nowhere in the middle of the season.

We can't let this team in the first four games become a team that can't do it. We have to bring this team along with the idea that somewhere right in the middle about game five, six or seven, we're going to start to come around and make a run. That's where I am mentally.


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