Raider Nation again clouded by drama

At some point in 2006, Al Davis allegedly turned to then-head coach Art Shell and declared that Shell had set the Raiders franchise back 10 years by drafting Michael Huff instead of Matt Leinart with the team's first-round pick in the draft.

Whether that's true or just rumor, it made for good gossip around the office water cooler. But now the question is, how badly has the team been damaged by Davis' alleged feud with head coach Lane Kiffin?

Certainly the situation, whether it's true or not -- the Raiders, after sitting on their hands in the early stages of the rumors, have now finally addressed the situation and strongly denied any problem existed -- has already unleashed an avalanche of emotion among the Raider Nation.

Fans who have normally stood by Davis and the Raiders through good times and bad, through the team's move to Los Angeles and back, through five straight losing seasons since the team's last appearance in the playoffs, are no longer rallying behind Davis. Websites and message boards have been besieged with emails and posts from irate fans who have been more supportive of Kiffin than the Raiders' owner.

A poll taken by one website asking who should go, Davis or Kiffin, had more than 1,100 voters calling for Davis to step down while fewer than 35 tabbed Kiffin.

Reporters have also taken Davis to task over the beef with Kiffin but that won't make Davis lose an ounce of sleep. He holds the media in pretty much the same regard it seems he holds head coaches. He seems to suffer them both because he has to and only because he has to. In his perfect world, there'd be no need for either.

Here's something else to consider. Davis has long maintained that his primary concern in life was winning. Just Win, Baby. Commitment to Excellence. All of that now is nothing more than rhetoric.

Even if Kiffin stays, how are the Raiders going to sell themselves as a place to come for free agents once the market opens next month? The team has several holes to fill and would need an exceptional offseason to get all the things accomplished that it needs to, but this whole mess between Davis and Kiffin has left an incredibly dark cloud over the franchise.

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