Hall release steams teammates

This is why Nnamdi Asomugha didn't want to sign a long-term contract with Raiders. Though he is far too classy and professional to come out and say it, the team's decision to cut ties with DeAngelo Hall after just eight games is precisely why Asomugha won't ink his name to a new deal with Oakland.

Talking at length after practice Wednesday and only hours after the announcement that Hall had been cut, Asomugha criticized the move as well as the decision to bench wide receiver Ronald Curry, both of which he said caught him by surprise and left the veteran cornerback questioning the direction the franchise.

"I'm obviously disappointed. I don't agree with what happened," Asomugha said. "I don't agree with what's going on. But I am just a player so I can't speak on it. I don't make the decisions. All I can do is play but I don't agree with what happened at all."

Hall was told he was being released by owner Al Davis on Tuesday. The team made no official announcement of the move on Wednesday but interim head coach Tom Cable, who said he had not spoken to Hall, addressed the issue during his daily meeting with reporters.

"When you look at the consistency and the play and those sorts of things, it was just the decision we felt was right for this football team," Cable said. "We did not want to stay where we're at. (We) felt like that was very important that we don't do that, that we move forward and that was the decision that was made.

"I think that when you look at our football team, you have to do something drastic, something that's going to impact your football team. We have good players on this team, as I've said before, so we're about being a team, about being one, about doing what the coaches ask you to do and going out and playing and improving. So something needed to be done and that was the decision that was made."

Cable said there were no behind-the-scenes issues with Hall and a team spokesman insisted the move was "not about money."

But the Raiders are saving close to $16 million in roster bonus and 2009 salary that Hall would have been due had he remained on the team next season. According to several sources within the organization, though, an even bigger inspiration was to avoid having to pay Hall $13 million in guaranteed money were he to be injured between now and the end of the current season.

The belief when Oakland initially traded for Hall and then signed him to a $70 million extension was that the Raiders would make a serious push for the playoffs. But with the team in obvious disarray and on the hook for a ton of money not only to Hall but other veterans like Javon Walker, Tommy Kelly and Gibril Wilson, Davis apparently is looking to start trimming the financial fat.

Wilson initially thought he and not Hall would be cut. Walker is also reported to be one of the players the Raiders are looking at. But sources say the big moves are done for now and that any future transactions will most likely be on a smaller scale.

Asomugha doesn't care.

After seeing the Raiders fire head coach Lane Kiffin four games into the season, bench Curry two weeks later and then sever their deal with Hall two weeks after that, the veteran cornerback sounded as close to angry as he's ever been during his time in Oakland.

"There's a lot of guys that, being honest, have played on their heels here at some point within the last eight weeks," Asomugha said. "There are a number of guys who are like, 'If I mess up once, I'll be gone.' Or, 'If I mess up once, someone else will take my spot.' It's a difficult thing to do as a player. You want to go out and have that confidence that you can go out and make mistakes and still get better. But when it seems like you're on a time schedule it's kind of difficult to always play up to par and not be hesitant like a lot of guys have shown that they've been.

"It doesn't get tougher because you know this is what you're paid to do. You're paid to deal with problems. At the same time, six years and running, you do get tired of a lot of things. Mind, body and soul, everything, you do get tired. Straight up. No lie."

Simply put, Asomugha is tired. Tired of losing. Tired of the circus sideshow that has gone on for much of his six years in Oakland. Mostly, he's tired of playing for a team that looks more and more like a rudderless, leaderless ship lost in the ocean.

Asomugha has always been the gentlemanly conscious of the Raiders locker room. Likeable to a fault with class oozing from his pores, the veteran cornerback has been the epitome of one of Al Davis' favorite catch-phrases: Pride and Poise.

Asomugha maintained his cool again Wednesday. Standing in front of his locker, which was marked by giant X made from athletic tape with the words Franchise for life, Asomugha politely declined to talk about his future in Oakland or his contract.

He did, however, say he intends to seek out Davis to find out what was behind the 79-year-old owner's thinking in releasing Hall, as well as any other potential changes the team is considering.

"I'm sure I'll be speaking to him soon," Asomugha said. "Just about the nature of what's going on. I think I've been here long enough that we can have that discussion, how this thing can get better."

One of the topics will be the team's decision to bench Curry two weeks ago. The team's leading receiver each of the past two seasons, Curry went from starter to playing almost exclusively on special teams.

"I still can't make sense of that one either," Asomugha said. "That's why I said there's been some things that have been going on, some shakeups, that I haven't agreed with. I'm not allowed to speak on it because we're just supposed to shut up and play. But you ask me if I agree with it? I don't agree with it. Ronald Curry has, since I've been here, been my best work on the field. Without question of any receiver that's come through here. He hasn't played. Now he's inactive. I don't know what's going on. Now with Michael Huff, he's still a developing safety who got his position changed. I don't know if he got enough time to develop. I guess it's the nature of what's been going on here. If you don't perform within an allotted time, they you move on."

Safety Gibril Wilson termed the situation in Oakland as unhealthy and described it as a soap opera.

"I've never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players," Wilson said. "That's strange to me. It's almost like we're throwing in the towel. We have eight games to go and we're two games down in the division. All we need to do is get on a roll in November and the next thing you know we're right back in this thing. For me, the sense I got was we're kind of throwing in the towel. There's still eight games left. You never know what could happen.

"One thing is losing and another is dealing with all the extra stuff. We have so much on our plate already. To deal with the extra stuff is not healthy for anybody, especially when you're trying to get a gameplan in and you're trying to know what you're supposed to do and all that. It's not a healthy situation at all.

"I just think we need to settle on something. We need to have a vision of where we're trying to take this team. If you don't have a vision and you're just trying to plug in players, then you're always going to get the same results. We're not about losing. This is the first team that I've been in a situation like this ever since I been playing football. We gotta win. That's all I'm worried about, getting a win. I'm getting phone calls from friends asking me what's going on and all that stuff. Right now, to be honest, football's not even really fun just because of all the losing and stuff. Coming to work is kind of hard."


SB Report Top Stories