Stick with this. This stuff is awesome.
-Q: Kiffin had that reputation at USC as a tough personality to like. Do you think you didn’t vet him well?
-AL DAVIS: No, I think he conned me like he conned all you people.
-Q: Why not fire Kiffin in training camp?
-DAVIS: Because I still thought there was hope. I’ve got a young quarterback. I still thought there was hope that he could see the light. Where he really popped off and started, it was Rob Ryan after the Denver game.
-Q: Who did Kiffin want to draft instead of JaMarcus?
-DAVIS: There were several. Every day it was different, that’s the thing. He didn’t want Russell. At one time he wanted Brady Quinn. At one time Calvin Johnson. At one time to trade it.
-Q: Why did you trade Moss if you knew he was good?
-DAVIS: They didn’t want him.
-DAVIS: Not the coaches. They were coming in brand new. That was a big thing on their minds.
Plus, you know how many teams turned him down. That guy in Green Bay thought he couldn’t run any more. Even Denver, where they’ll take anybody, turned him down.
But what’s his name knew he could run, he’s a friend of Belichick’s. Mike Lombardi. Mike sold what’s his name, Belichick, on the idea that he could run. They tampered with him. I remember Bob Kraft saying that he had to look him in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run. He’s their team, of course, with the quarterback.
-Q: Mike Lombardi was a loyal guy for years…
-DAVIS: Mike Lombardi? Yes, he was all right.
-Q: And he’s taking shots at you…
-DAVIS: That’s part of life. You just live with those things. He was with me eight years. Mike Lombardi has been fired from every job he’s had. Every job. He can’t get a job. Last year he was fired from a job he was working for for nothing. He was fired from Denver. But he does have ability. He does have some ability.
But he was bad to Shell. Not necessary. You can’t get that in an organization, somebody in the organization bad-mouthing the coach.
-Q: Nobody can do that?
-DAVIS: Well, you can do it a little bit, seriously. But it’s tough, you know. It just wasn’t right. Shell was… been here all his life. I just… would stick up for him, so both of them had to go.
-Q: You’ve also got Lofton, Rathman, Knapp, Ryan… A lot of guys you passed over for Cable. What was the main reason you picked him and not those guys?
-DAVIS: Because I think he can do a better job. With the team.
-Q: With the organizational structure, is all you need is a new head coach to fix things?
-DAVIS: No. No, I’ve got to one or two other things. I mentioned some other things, Jerry, that are coming up here. Possibly a work stoppage. Possible an uncapped year in 2010. We have to prepare for that.
Stadium. There’s a lot going on. Trask is involved in a lot of that stuff, Amy Trask. There’s a lot going on in the business side of football today. We have the negotiations with the players, that was a blow that hurt me personally, because he was a close friend, Gene Upshaw.
And I’m running into that quite a bit now, losing people. I lost Jack Faulkner the other day. I don’t know if any of you know him. He was with the Rams. I had to talk to him while he was on his deathbed. I guess there’s no one left but me. Maybe I’m the only one left who can talk to these guys.
-Q: Do you think this organization have a need for any more football people?
-DAVIS: Yes, I do. There’s one guy I’m looking at now.
-Q: A senior executive?
-DAVIS: It would be an executive role, yeah.
-Q: Would you wait until the off-season before making the move?
-DAVIS: Yeah, I’d wait ‘til this off-season. Yeah, I’ve talked to the person, pretty much. It’d be unique. He’s local.
-Q: Can you give us a name?
-Q: Your son Mark has been around a lot more recently. What aspect of the organization is he involved in?
-DAVIS: He’s business and perhaps he’s doing some work on stadium. Business and stadium. He doesn’t want to get involved in football. He used to know all the players. He still does. They were his vintage—Cliff Branch and all those guys, Fred Biletnikoff, all those guys.
He never understood how I could let someone go. He just doesn’t want to get into that part of it.
But he will own it some day. That is… if they let me go to my maker.
-Q: You said to somebody that you wanted to win two more Super Bowls and then retire…
-DAVIS: I didn’t say retire. I just want to win two more.
-Q: But could you retire?
-DAVIS: All joking aside, sure.
-Q: It keeps coming up, so Al, how’s your health?
-DAVIS: Other than the quadriceps and a little trouble with the walking, based on total balance, I’m fine. I’m healthy. You’re going to have to have me around for a while.
I’m fine, really. I take all the tests four times a year. I get a check up on everything, echo and all those things. All the blood work, I do that four times a year.
My mother, you know, she lived a long time, 103. I hope nothing happens. Because disease is the one thing, boy I tell you, it’s tough to lick. It’s tough to lick those goddamn diseases. I don’t know why they can’t.
It bothers me they wont let us use… and it doesn’t mean that I’m Republican or Democrat… the stem-cell. I think it could help.
-Q: I don’t think we’ve talked to you since last year when you sold a 20% stake to outside investors for the first time. Can you explain why you did that?
-DAVIS: You should’ve called me. The fact (is that it wasfor)… estate planning.
-Q: For Mark?
-DAVIS: Well, obviously.
In 2011, that rule comes back. You know it’s down to about 10% in 2010 or no estate tax and then I think in 2011 or 12, right in there, the estate comes back… you have to correct me, does it go back to about 48%?
-Q: You’ve had other coaches who’ve gone through the Raiders to future success. You think that could happen with Kiffin?
-DAVIS: Here’s what I would say: When Shanahan left me, he went to Denver. He was there for about four or five years as an assistant and they fired him for insubordination. Dan Reeves and he had a big battle. He went to the 49ers and he learned their style of football and when Dan Reeves failed in Denver, the first guy they had was Wade Phillips, I think… then he brought Shanahan back. And Shanahan had success. But Shanahan has an asterisk next to those two Super Bowls, because they were caught cheating.
Now Norv Turner does a good job as a coordinator and he’s doing a good job as a head coach. Now let’s see what he does. He’s got a good team. Let’s see what he does. I might have been impetuous with him. But he was a good guy.
If you remember with Norv, the first thing Norv did was let Tim Brown go. And I had to have a press conference up in Napa about Tim Brown leaving. And then about two games into the season, he forgot that Jerry Rice caught a pass in every game. He forgot to throw him the ball and he broke his streak. They threw him the ball, it went through his hands and then they didn’t come back to him. And so Jerry Rice said he wanted to be traded.
I’m not making excuses here. And then the next year I got him Kerry and Randy and it was pretty good. But we couldn’t win so that thing didn’t go.
Now who else was here?
-DAVIS: Jon. You’ve got to make your own decision. Jon was a good coach. But don’t forgot, I took Jon, no one else even knew who he was.
Jon’s first two years, he was in tough. He won a big game that kept him alive. You know which game that was? Kansas City… that’s pretty good. You ought to be over here with us…
The Tuck Game was the undoing of a lot of things.
-Q: Was it accurate that you talked Javon Walker out of retirement during training camp?
-DAVIS: I don’t know. See, that’s the problem. I’m pretty close to some of the players and I try to stay away from them. I stay away because I don’t want the head coach to be upset.
Javon can play. He can play.
-Q: Do the new minority partners have any option to buy in the future?
-DAVIS: Everyone has an option to buy a limited. But not to buy the… no… No, I have options to buy a limited. Everyone has that option.
No, as long as we’re alive, and then there’s the possibility of Trask. I think I want to do something for her. That’s Amy Trask. Other than Carol and Mark, no… other than maybe her.
-Q: Are you looking for more investors?
-DAVIS: No. I could have them in a minute. I want to see where we’re going to end up with the stadium.
-Q: How is the stadium stuff going?
-DAVIS: We’ll see. We’re working with the city of Oakland. We’re working.
-Q: Could you stay at the Coliseum after the lease expires in 2010 the way it’s set up currently?
-DAVIS: Of course we want a new one. I wouldn’t negotiate with you right now or with the media. I don’t know if the newspapers will be in existence (in 2010).