Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 21, 2008
Working at the Hotel

Former personnel executive Mike Lombardi isn't a popular person around Raiders headquarters.

Lombardi was fired shortly after the draft in 2007 and spent last season with Denver. Since being fired he has been blamed by some (fairly or unfairly) affiliated with the organization with poor personnel decisions.

Lombardi was the "fox" leaking information to the media Art Shell talked about in 2006.

But that doesn't stop me from being intrigued by his insights in to the Raiders or as he calls the organization the Hotel California.

The Raiders are tight-lipped about their operation. That means insight usually comes from former employees who speak freely, no longer in fear of drawing the ire of Al Davis.

Lombardi is now a contributor to and has his own site,

Lombardi addresses the NFL as a whole, but his insights to the Raiders are always pointed and often mesh with what's being said by others off the record.

Lombardi was on Jim Rome's radio show this morning and discussed the Raiders, among other NFL-related topics.

Rome asked with the "dictatorship" situation that surrounds Raider head coaches, who would be the ideal coach for the team.

Lombardi's response was that Al Davis should do what he really wants to do.

"There's only one person that should coach (the Raiders) and that's the owner," Lombardi said.

Lombardi believes Lane Kiffin lost credibility with the players by trying to exert power he didn't really have.

Lombardi said the Raiders' inability to honestly evaluate its own talent cost the team Super Bowl berths in 2001 and 2001.

Good teams are constantly bringing in players to upgrade all positions (think New England, Indianapolis, San Diego) while, as Lombardi points out, other teams don't do that because someone likes a player.

And when it comes to the Raiders we all know who the "someone" is holding on to a player based on what he did in college, 40 time, etc.

These are the "scholarship" players that have been on Raider rosters for years when many wonder what they are doing to justify being on the team.

Lombardi joined the Raiders in 1999 and called the first four years "fairly normal." He said things went bad after the team traded for Randy Moss.

Lombardi added Bill Callahan going into 2003 as a lame duck coach ruined the season.

All of these decisions come back to one man: Davis.

On his site, Lombardi decries the Raiders reported interest in Greg Wesley, saying he can't run or cover anymore.

Lombardi doesn't mention Davis by name, but "HIM" isn't referring to the janitor.

All (Wesley) will do is take "Someone's" money (which he loves to spend now) and not play. Do you think they remember Donovan Darius at the Hotel? Another favorite of "Someone".

Might Lombardi be angry about how things ended in Oakland? Yes.

But that doesn't make his opinions less relevant.

And I imagine he'll continue to be open about that now that he doesn't work for a certain "someone."

Niners in Napa

I listened to the 49ers conference call with coach Mike Nolan and GM Scot McCloughan today for Matt Barrows.

Here's the update on the joint practice reported last week.

"We've discussed it with them but as right now it hasn't been etched in stone," Nolan said. "... It would just be practice and not a scrimmage. And if we did it, it would be up at their place in Napa. And it would not be an open event. All their practices are closed."

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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