Raiders head coach Tom Cable downplayed fights between his players early in camp, saying "Boys will be boys." When it comes to his own coaching staff and himself, however, Cable wasn't nearly as jokeful.
Numerous reports surfaced that Cable had allegedly punched defensive assistant Randy Hanson on Aug. 5, an incident which resulted in Hanson having to go to a local hospital in Napa – where the team holds training camp – for treatment.
Hanson, who was suspended for one game last year by then-head coach Lane Kiffin after Hanson criticized the Raiders' efforts in the season-opening loss to Denver, had been working with the team's defensive backs prior to the alleged incident but hasn't been seen in training camp since.
Cable, who has talked repeatedly about the importance of changing the atmosphere and attitude in Oakland and bringing in people with character, declined to talk about the reports when broached by members of the media.
"It's an internal issue that we are dealing with and that's all I'm going to say," Cable said, repeating the phrase when questioned if he was involved. "I'm not going to comment on that."
Cable spoke for less than 60 seconds regarding the incident and declined to say whether or not he was involved or if Hanson was even still employed by the team before questioning was cut off by Mike Taylor, a member of the Raiders PR staff.
A report filed by the Napa Police Department detailed an altercation between a 41-year-old white male and another member of the Raiders' coaching staff. Neither the victim nor the suspect was identified.
Several players also professed ignorance when asked about the reported fight. Some were just finding out as they walked out to practice on Aug. 17.
That was the day news of the incident first leaked out. While players went through their pre-practice stretching, a handful began chanting "Cable, bumaye, Cable, bumaye" in an obvious reference to the crowd chants heard by former boxing champ Muhammad Ali during his 1974 heavyweight championship fight against George Foreman.
"I don't even know what they were saying," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha joked. "I think there's still some guys who don't even know. I found out as I was coming out on the field. Guys were finding out here and there. It wasn't like a big announcement so the reaction wasn't like a collective reaction. People were like, 'What's going on?' trying to find out but no one really knew."
Just where this leaves Hanson remains uncertain.
Owner Al Davis intervened on his behalf when Kiffin tried to discipline Hanson last year and later fired Kiffin, replacing him after four games in 2008 with Cable.
Asked if Hanson was still employed by the Raiders, Cable declined to comment.
"I know he's been around here but we really haven't seen him that much," safety Hiram Eugene said. "They keep him in the offices."
If true, this would be the second in-house fight the Raiders have had in recent years. In 2003, Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski punched teammate Marcus Williams during practice, shattering Williams' jaw. Williams later filed a civil lawsuit and was awarded $340,000 in damages.
The National Football Post was the first to break the story about a fight involving Hanson. AOL Fanhouse later did a follow-up that identified Cable as the alleged perpetrator.
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