Yesterday the Oakland Raiders introduced Jim Michalczik as offensive line coach for the 2009 season and thus completed the filling of all staff positions. While this bit of news was but a speck of dust amongst the sand storm of A-Rod and the post Grammy talk, it stood out as a landmark moment in recent Raider history.
Michalczik’s appointment was made by new head coach Tom Cable. Perhaps that is an innocent and benign statement when compared to the process most other NFL teams go through. But in Raider Nation we know that a coach being able to select his own staff has been as much a fable as the chupacabra or drug testing in baseball.
During his introductory press conference last week, Tom Cable was credited with being the lone person responsible for assembling his staff. Many of us were skeptical of this statement. We assumed that if David Caruso dusted the staff for prints that he would find Al Davis’ fingers hand been all over Ted Tollner and John Marshall.
However, when one looks at Michalczik’s impressive resume and then learns that he is a good friend of Cable’s, then there can be no doubt that this was a choice made by the head coach and no one else. The offensive line is Cable’s pride. Rest assured that this was something Cable would have fought Al Davis on tooth and nail had it come down to such, but the amazing thing is it didn’t. There were no yelling matches behind closed doors. No need for Mr. Davis to wheel out the projector to show the world that Cable had lied to him about whom he had promised to ask join his cabinet. Instead, Al Davis simply sat back and told Tom, “You pick the staff”.
This can be seen as a positive move. It is a sign that Al finally has a coach he trusts and is willing to turn over important decisions to. This is not to say that Mr. Davis will not be calling Cable into his office to ask him why the head coach called for a fake field goal in the first quarter. I think the smart money is on Al still being Al when it comes to what we see on the field. But by allowing his head coach to simply hire a qualified staff, it shows a level of trust and respect that has been absent from this franchise for some time now. We can only hope that Mr. Davis has chosen the right man to hand the reigns to. By my estimations, I think we are in good hands Raider Nation.