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OFF THE PLATE: JANUARY 2009

Why Tom Cable Should Remain the Coach of the Raiders

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(Jan. 6, 2008)—Well, another losing season has come and gone. And once again it's time for speculation about the Raiders head coaching job.

Today, Al Davis interviewed Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for 90 minutes, and will likely consider other candidates. I'm throwing my two cents in for Tom Cable. This year was a trial by fire. He withstood some enormous tests of his character and coaching ability. I think Cable proved his mettle and deserves a shot at coaching a full season. Here are some of the challenges he had to overcome in 2008:

  1. The press conference. When Lane Kiffin was finally fired, Al Davis convened one of the most notorious press events in league history – a complete multi-media presentation that basically put the ousted young Kiffin on public trial. As I watched this spectacle I thought “Who in their right mind would want this job.” But there at Davis' side sat Tom Cable, seemingly calm and resolute. What impressed me most was the way he answered questions from the media. He didn't duck tough issues. He answered honestly yet tactfully, but without seeming like he stayed up all night rehearsing his lines. It was a good indication of the patience and poise he would need for this job.
  2. The team. Cable said repeatedly that the first challenge for the Raiders would be to change the attitude from losing to winning. There were a number of moments where the team could have given up on the season: after Kiffin was fired, after the game with the Chiefs where they lost the game on a botched fake field goal attempt, after blowout losses to the Patriots and the Chargers, after it was clear they would finish with yet another losing record. But the team came back to play solid football -winning the last two games against playoff contenders and ending the season with a 3 and 2 record for the final five games. Cable did not lose control of the team. He never gave up, even when offensive line coach left two games before the season was over. This was a strong message to send to the team and the fans.
  3. The traditions. There are now two Raider traditions: the winning and the losing. One of the most depressing moments of this past season was seeing ESPN list the 10 U.S. professional sports teams (not just football) that have gone the longest without winning a championship. The Raiders are now on that list. This year marks a quarter century (the Silver Anniversary if you will) since the Raiders won their last Super Bowl. In fact the Raiders have now been a non-championship team for as long as they were a championship team. The Raiders' dismal record the last 6 years is a tough inheritance. But Cable still hangs on to the Raiders' winning tradition. He believes the team can win and appreciates the Raider history. Most important, he wants to be a Raider. He's a native of Merced, Calif. and a Raider fan.

Here is another key factor to consider: Tom Cable looks like a Raider head coach. Forget the baby-faced kids. We want a middle-aged Joe with a beer belly who straps on a leather jacket on Sundays, rolls his Harley out of the garage and rides down to the corner bar to drink cheap beer and listen to classic rock while watching football (Raider football of course).

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