Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

October 23, 2008
Enjoying his trip down memory lane

ALAMEDA - Tom Cable is relishing his chance to be the Raiders head coach.

He's unlike his predecessor, Lane Kiffin, who at 33 is a little older than me and too young to remember the glory days of the Raiders.

Cable is 43, which means he saw the Raiders at their best in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

So he got a kick out of having Raiders from the past speak to the team before last Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

I'd love a job where I got to meet Magic Johnson (oddly enough I've never encountered him as a writer).

Nevermind my nostalgic moment, back to Cable and the Raiders.

"I haven't met any of these guys and I grew up watching them," Cable said. "Some of that was personal but some of that was also being here for two years and realizing a lot of this football team, as young as some of these guys are, they don't understand the legacy of what it is to be a Raider. They don't understand the tradition of what it is and what those teams accomplished. So more than anything it was educating them. With that, now that you understand it, there's a responsibility to wear that helmet and that shield and I think that was really what was behind that."

Players like Nnamdi Asomugha and Kirk Morrison described the experience of seeing the old Raiders as inspirational.

Morrison grew up in Oakland so many of the names he probably heard growing up. Asomugha is from Southern California, and like most of us L.A.-area natives, saw plenty about the Raiders as children.

But what does that mean to someone who grew up back east? Does a player on a team that won its last Super Bowl before he was born really care about tradition?

It's hard to gauge. Players will play for anyone as long as the money is right. There's no hatred of Kansas City, Denver or San Diego along the same lines the old players discuss.

It'll be interesting to see if the players take what they heard from Kenny Stabler, Raymond Chester and Phil Villapiano seriously about being a team or if it becomes a forgotten story in another lost season.

Right now, that's the only legacy most of them know.

*I loved Cable's answer to a question about rain this weekend in Baltimore.

"I hope it rains cats and dogs, we're expecting it to rain on Sunday," he said. "We have already talked about it. If you're worried about that stuff, A) you're not very good and, B), you're worried about the wrong thing. We have already addressed that."

The Ravens play on the artificial grass a lot of teams use. And with all the advanced drainage systems, it's not as if there's going to be a puddle of mud in the middle of the field.

Good teams still make plays in the rain. If the Raiders lose on a wet day and the first complaint is the weather, you'll know they're making excuses.

Rain would actually help both teams because neither wants to pass the ball a lot.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins might return kickoffs and punts again. He averaged 25.2 yards on kickoffs, but ceded to Tyvon Branch last week.

It was Branch's job before he broke his thumb in the Raiders' exhibition-season opener.

Branch is learning much like Higgins did last year that kickoff duty as a rookie isn't easy.

Branch has five kickoffs for 73 yards (14.6 ypr) and fumbled a kickoff last weekend against the Jets that he recovered.

Cable said a decision would be made soon on that.

*DeAngelo Hall was playing an interesting game of fielding punts after practice. While holding one football, the JUGS machine would send another ball for Hall to catch. With both footballs secured, Hall would wait for a third to come his way, get rid of one football and catch the other with his available arm.

*DE Derrick Burgess (triceps) will be a game-time decision as will LB Jon Alston (foot). DT Gerard Warren (ankle) was limited but is expected to play on Sunday.

RB Darren McFadden (toe) was limited. He said the toe was sore and cutting back was precautionary.

--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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