Al Davis has been called many things over the years. One adjective you’ll never see used to describe the iconic owner of the Oakland Raiders is gun-shy.
For a man who lives by the motto of “Just Win Baby” victories have been few and far between over the last six years. That doesn’t mean that it is not for lack of effort on the part of Mr. Davis. If nothing else, his biggest fault has been having the patience of a toddler staring at a Pop Tart in the toaster oven. He wants to win and he wants to win yesterday.
The overzealous nature of Mr. Davis has led to running coaches in and out of Oakland like husbands in Elizabeth Taylor’s bedroom. His desire to win at all costs has cost him precious capital via misguided contracts (see 2008).
Now, Davis has once again pulled the trigger on a deal to bring a marquee talent to Oakland in the middle of yet another rebuilding effort. When the news of the Richard Seymour trade broke, immediately images of Randy Moss came bubbling up from the blurry recent past of Raider Nation.
Seymour is not Moss in the sense that he comes to the East Bay carrying the baggage of character issues. Quite the opposite, Seymour has gained the reputation as a hard worker who plays to the echo of the whistle. In this case, Seymour’s question mark relates to his football future – namely his contract.
In a contract year, Bill Belichick and the Patriots brass decided to trade the five time Pro Bowl defender instead of having to deal with his new deal. Top that with a recent history of injuries and an ideal trade meant to fill an immediate need in Oakland suddenly becomes more of a gamble than a sure bet.
Giving up a first round pick in 2011 has been seen as an overvaluation of Seymour. From where I sit, this was a steal. The Raiders have many a question mark surrounding recent first round picks. Combine the lack of production with the lofty price tag and giving up a first round pick two years from now doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Where the Raider scouting department has earned their paycheck recently has been in the selections made outside of the first round (see Shane Lechler, Michael Bush, Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Mario Henderson and Zach Miller as examples). Plus, with the way the Pats and Raiders deal, there is nothing to stop one from thinking that the Raiders will get that pick back when the Hoodie comes calling for Nnamdi Asomugha in 2011.
No, Richard Seymour alone does not make the Raiders a Super Bowl contender. But in a weakened AFC West where the marquee team is a San Diego front runner that never manages to live up to the hype, Seymour could be the difference between 7-9 or 8-8, which was good enough to win the division title in 2008.
Now the waiting game has begun.
When will Al Davis and Richard Seymour have their sit down to iron out the football future of a dominant defensive lineman? According to HGH user turned studio big mouth Rodney Harrison, Seymour is no happier about being dealt to Oakland than football fans are of having to hear Harrison’s mundane ramblings every Sunday.
Undoubtedly Davis will impress Seymour when the two finally talk. The run defense savior will be amazed to learn that the rumors of a senile Davis are faulty and that his mind is still just as sharp as it’s ever been. Seymour will have a hard time turning down the type of money Davis will offer him as well.
All of the above hinges on a meeting actually taking place though.
Going from the Pats to the Raiders is tough pill to swallow. If given the choice, playing for a winning cheater is much more appealing than playing for a legendary owner turned captain of a sinking ship.
What Seymour doesn’t realize is that if he becomes a part of the Raider resurrection then he’ll be held in reverence with some of the all-time greats that have played for a franchise that is a pillar of the NFL and has a fan base as faithful and dedicated as any in sports.
Therefore, the plan that Mr. Davis spelled out decades ago still lives on. Acquiring top players at any cost and demanding greatness of them is nothing new. Getting those players to buy into that philosophy amid six horrendous years is a new challenge.
Seymour might not know Davis, but he knows his reputation. Even with the offer of millions to play in Oakland, nothing is guaranteed. Winning is not a given nor is Seymour’s employment should he under perform. One year ago DeAngelo Hall thought he hit the jackpot. In the end, all Hall got was a half season of a 7-year deal and $8 million of a possible $70 million.
Patience is not one of Mr. Davis’ best qualities and in this business of pro football loyalty is rare. Ironically, the much romanticized franchise Seymour just left showed him no loyalty at all. The one Seymour is joining has a great history of loyalty. Just ask Asomugha or Shane Lechler about that.
Nothing comes easy for Al Davis. One crisis after another is par for the course in Oakland, but that doesn’t mean that the tide can’t turn with the right mentality. Tom Cable proved he could help to right the ship. Al Davis bought into Cable’s philosophy so much so that he traded for Richard Seymour. Now, Davis has to convince Seymour to buy in. What comes next is either the vintage Davis of the glorious past or the misguided Davis of the recent failings.
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