I was trying to think of what Sunday’s Raiders game against the Arizona Cute ‘Lil Birdies reminded me of. With muffed punts and boneheaded penalties, the Cardinals kept trying to give the Raiders the game and the Raiders simply refused to take it. It ate at me until I finally figured it out what it triggered in the deep recesses of my memory: the Goofy Gophers, Mac and Tosh.
Their names probably aren’t that familiar (I had to Google them), but those who grew up watching Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons will no doubt recall two gophers who resembled Walt Disney’s Chip and Dale who were extraordinarily polite and overly deferential to each other. If you substituted the Cards and Raiders for Mac and Tosh a conversation would go something like this:
CARDINALS: Please take the win.
RAIDERS: Oh no! I simply couldn’t! Please, you take it!
CARDINALS: Oh no; I wouldn’t hear of it!
RAIDERS: Come, come, I really must insist!
CARDINALS: Oh…well...alright. You truly are much too kind!
RAIDERS: As are you!
When you bookend a game with special teams blunders you usually don’t emerge victorious. Watching the Cardinals return the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown stung. What stung worse was watching the Raiders last line of defense, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, whiffing on the tackle after doing a hopeless waddling sprint that looked like a pregnant penguin that suddenly discovered their egg is rolling downhill.
I appreciate that Jano gave it a little effort, but it would probably have been more efficient if he just took off his helmet, flung it at the runner’s feet and hoped he tripped on it.
Of course, the Raiders didn’t draft Janikowski 10 years ago to tackle people; he’s there to kick field goals.
The two relatively short kicks (41 and 32 yards) Sea Bass missed were out of character and I can choose to get angry about it or congratulate him on a near-flawless impression of North Mexico Charger kicker Nate Kaeding in last season’s playoffs.
In fairness to Sea Bass, he has been clutch for the Raiders year in and year out and sometimes you just have a bad day. Also, a 32-yard field goal sounds easy, but when you think about kicking a ball ninety-six feet between two goal posts, well, I doubt I could do it.
Perhaps if I imagined the ball was ex-Broncos-now-Redskins head coach Mike Shanarat’s head I could get the distance, but I would have no idea where it would go.
Kickers have always been on the fringe in football. I have been to the Raiders training camp a few times and I always trip that while the rest of the team is going through different drills, the kickers are basically just doing what I’m doing there—kinda standing around and watching.
During punt return drills sometimes punter Shane Lechler doesn’t even kick at all. He just pretends to and they use one of those machines with two spinning wheels that shoots footballs up in the air for the returners to field.
By the way, I once had an awesome dream that I built an extra jumbo sized one of those machines and launched Chiefs fans through it.
Football games are rarely decided by just one play. Quarterback Bruuuuuce Gradkowski took a delay of game penalty which pushed the Raiders back from the 1 yard line. Settling for three points (or no points) once we were in scoring position didn’t help. Plus our red zone defense, which inexplicably changed from shut down man-to-man to creampuff zone and allowed Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald to catch the go-ahead TD, left me scratching my head.
It was excruciating to watch the Raiders squander a game they could so easily have won. I used to get really angry when my team let me down but now I realize it is just a game and in the grand scheme of things how important is it really? I have to go now and send another anonymous death threat to Sea Bass.
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The great thing about reading my column is that you get things you cannot get from the beat writers. For instance it was widely reported that the crowd at the Raiders-Rams game Sunday (which Oakland won 16-14) were chanting the name of backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski as “Bruuuuce!” I can tell you unequivocally that that is false.
What Raider fans were chanting was “Bruuuuuce!” with five “u’s” and not four. As a fanalist I would never dream of cheating you out of your u’s. Accurate reporting: just another service I provide to the Raider Nation.
Yes, Jason Campbell was yanked after a lackluster six quarters. I think the best way to explain why Raider fans prefer Gradkowski over Campbell is to use Van Halen as an analogy.
In 1985 Sammy Hagar replaced original lead singer David Lee Roth in the seminal Southern California rock band. While Hagar has solid rock and roll pipes and can hit notes that David Lee Roth could only dream about, Roth was just way more fun. Campbell may come equipped with better tools, but Gradkowski uses his own tools better. In short, Gradkowski is “Jump” and Campbell is that lame Pepsi Zero jingle “Right Now.”
Actually the fault that fans prefer Bruuuuuce (five u’s) to Campbell does not rest on the Washington Politically Incorrect Mascot castoff’s shoulders, but his parents who named him. “Jaaaaason!” (five a’s) is just is not in the same galaxy as much fun to chant as “Bruuuuuce!” (five u’s).
If it’s any consolation to Campbell I sat in the front row at the interview room and got a good look at Gradkowski and as many have reported, he does bear a striking resemblance to Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. So there’s that at least.
Since the Raider Nation’s insistent cries for a quarterback change were listened to and produced a win, head coach Tom Cable is now trying out a new system called Popularity Coaching. All major decisions will now be splayed on the stadium Jumbotron and put to a vote.
So you can now expect the Raiders to go for it on every 4th down, challenge every call that doesn’t go our way and have the Raiderettes wear even skimpier outfits so that the current squad will look like they are sporting burqas in comparison.
Speaking of the Raiderettes one thing I’m particularly proud of is Oakland is I believe the only place in the league where our cheerleaders bump and grind to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” Raider haters can feel free to insert the obvious Al Davis joke here.
I feel like I need to remind fans of the team across the bay of one of the Raider Mottos: “Kick Niner Fans in the Chin!” Oh, wait, not that one. I mean “Just Win, Baby!” I have heard Niner fan after Niner fan talk about their three point loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints on Monday with pride while pooh-poohing the Raiders victory because it was against the lowly Rams.
Niner fans boast their team “held their own” and “showed promise” and blah and blah and even more blah. I checked the football standings in the sports section of the paper and surprisingly didn’t see a HTL (Held Their Own) or SP (Showed Progress) section. What I did see was W and L and the Niners are winless with a division loss while the Raiders are a respectable .500 at 1-1.
What’s more, the Niners have only scored a paltry, measly, embarrassing twenty-eight total points in two games. The Raiders have been much more productive over that same two-game span and have scored twenty-nine points.
The odd scenario happens next weekend where the Raiders play a team in the Niners division (the Arizona Cute ‘Lil Birdies) and the Niners play a team in the Raiders’ division (the Kansas City Cheats).
What to do? Am I expected to actually (gasp) root for the San Francisco 49ers to win? Oh man, I gotta end this column now. That thought just triggered my gag reflex.
Reach Fairfield fanalist—part fan, part journalist Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org