What we read while Al Davis told Steve Jobs to “Just win, baby!”…
“Our task as men is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks men take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.”
—Albert Camus, “The Almond Trees”
We have to be moderate here. The Raiders are not back.
The Raiders’ odds of making the playoffs this season are not very good. They have a killer schedule the rest of the way, having to go to Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and San Diego, not to mention tough home dates with Miami and Indianapolis. I don’t see them winning more than one of those games.
But we also have to understand how low Oakland had fallen these last seven years. Not only were the Raiders never in the playoffs, they were never in playoff contention. They hadn’t won three in a row since 2002, hadn’t been over .500 in November since 2002. As bad as the Bills and Lions have been in that stretch, they’ve at least had years that looked promising. Buffalo was 4-0 two years ago; Detroit was 6-2 three seasons ago.
Not the Raiders. Here are Oakland’s records through nine games in each of the last seven seasons: 2-7, 2-7, 2-7, 2-7, 3-6, 3-6, 2-7. So when we say they haven’t been over .500 in November since 2002, we also have to point out that they haven’t been .500 in November since 2002. They haven’t been within a game of being .500 in November since 2002.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It’s difficult to pinpoint who in Oakland fits Einstein’s definition of insanity the best: Al Davis, for continuing to run the Raiders into the ground; Tom Cable, for continuing to run JaMarcus Russell out under center every week; or Russell himself, for continuing to forget that defenders possess the ability to knock the ball out of his hands and force what is colloquially known as a fumble.
Seeing Russell play on Sunday was one of those things you could never prepare for. You know, I had heard that JaMarcus Russell was a really bad quarterback—easily the worst in the NFL. I had heard that Russell routinely missed open receivers and didn’t have a pocket presence. But I had seen plenty of bad quarterbacks in my time. I lived through Dave Brown and Danny Kanell and Kent Graham and Jesse Palmer and a young Eli Manning. I’d looked across the way at Browning Nagle and Glenn Foley and Rick Mirer for the Jets.