Just over month ago, the Oakland Raiders opened their 2009 training camp in Napa, California. The initial days of camp were spent without Derrick Burgess who was a no-show. The veteran defensive end had seemingly grown tired of the Raiders and their ways. Being that it is was a contract year he also expected a new deal.
Al Davis opted not to deal with Burgess, trading him to the New England Patriots for draft choices.
One headache was done away with thanks to addition by subtraction.
The Raiders still couldn’t stop the run even on the rare occasions when Burgess was healthy over the last two years. So losing Burgess didn’t really matter because he was as useless against the run as the Raiders’ first round pick in 2011 is now.
Whatever the case, it appeared that the 2009 season would not look much different on the defensive side of things. Almost the exact same front seven from the NFL’s 31st ranked run defense in ’08 was still in Silver and Black for ’09. Therefore stopping the run was as likely to happen this season as Brett Favre was to un-retire after last season. That is a very safe bet.
Not one to sit back idly and watch as his beloved team made every running back it faced into a fantasy stud, Al Davis sought to rectify things in a hurry.
Mr. Davis appeared to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting football world by again trading with the New England Patriots to acquire a run stuffing, Pro-Bowl defensive tackle named Richard Seymour. Seymour, like Burgess, was in a contract year. Apparently Seymour was under the assumption that he and the Patriots would open up talks for a new contract. That is why Seymour did something very un-Burgess like by actually showing up to camp instead of holding out. He thought the Patriots would take care of him in due time. He thought wrong and Al Davis swooped in.
Now that Bill Belichick has swapped one headache for another, he can sleep soundly knowing that Burgess is in no position to make demands. The Pats picked up a first round pick in 2011 and have a young nucleus on defense to build around. Burgess is filling space; chances are he’ll be gone by season’s end.
As for Davis and the Raiders; well, they’re back to square one.
Now the Raiders have another hold out to deal with who is pulling a move the neighboring San Francisco 49ers are familiar with. We’ll just call it the Michael Crabtree. Davis is known to compensate veteran stand outs handsomely. Apparently nobody from the front office actually contacted Seymour prior to the now bungled trade. The least a competent front office would have done is chat him up and feel out what it was going to take to buy his happiness in football purgatory.
Like Hines Ward in the 2009 NFL opener, the Raiders were on their way to getting a victory but forgot the most elementary rule in football – ball security. In this case, not protecting a simple draft pick is what we’ll call the ball. Now, Seymour is going Crabtree, willing to sit until compensated instead of playing pro football in the Bay Area. What has happened to two storied franchises that players would rather go broke than play the game they love? Truly sad times but not all is lost.
Like Ward and the Steelers nothing was lost despite the mistake and victory was still accomplished. No doubt this is a situation that can be rectified.
The only problem is the question of who will be the one to turn things around by grabbing the reigns and pulling this situation back on track before more damage is done.
Al Davis might not trust many but he needs someone he can trust to handle his affairs now. This was his call, no matter how bold or daring it might have been he needs to see it through to its finish or get out of the way so someone can close the door on this nightmare.
Without Seymour in uniform Davis is right back where he started with nothing to show for his troubles except a disgruntled defensive lineman with a different name. The more things change the more they seem to stay the same, once again Tom Cable is left to pick up the pieces and start all over just like it’s training camp. The difference this time is that the games are for real, the wins and losses count. Asking Cable to win with the same personnel is cruel and unfair, especially when he sees Seymour’s name listed on the roster yet can’t seem to spot his Pro-Bowl lineman anywhere on the sideline.
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