OXNARD — The New England Patriots might not have been able to figure out what to do with a former three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle who doubles as a union vice president, but the Raiders could.
Monday night, Brian Holloway appeared on national TV to state the players' case in negotiations with National Football League owners. Tuesday morning, the Patriots told Holloway he was through in Foxboro. Tuesday night, they traded him to the Raiders for an undisclosed draft choice, reportedly a middle-round pick in 1988.
Holloway is 28 and played in the last three Pro Bowls. Despite that, he is thought to have slipped last season after the retirement of the future Hall of Famer next to him in the line, guard John Hannah. The Patriots were grooming Steve Moore to take his place, but Holloway had started all this season's exhibitions and there had been no complaints until he appeared on TV Monday night.
Tuesday, he was called to Coach Raymond Berry's office and told he could either retire or be traded.
"The first thing Berry said to me," Holloway told the Boston Globe's Will McDonough, "was this had nothing to do with my union activities but that he felt it was best for the team if I wasn't around any more. He asked if I wanted to be traded or to retire, just like that.
"Then he asked me not to go back down to the dressing room and cause any trouble with the players, to do something disruptive. I told him I was going to go down and tell my teammates what happened so they could hear it from me. They couldn't believe it, either."
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the National Football League Players Assn., called it "an obvious attempt to break the union." Reaction among Patriot players was skeptical but not incendiary.
Raymond Clayborn said he had to take Berry at his word. A Patriot veteran who asked not to be named told the Globe, "It looks suspicious."
The Raiders, meanwhile, need tackles. They benched their long-time starter on the right side, Henry Lawrence, last season, and have just lost Shelby Jordan, the 35-year-old who was to replace him, to injury.
The starter on the left side is Bruce Davis, who was supposed to be pushed hard in camp by No. 1 pick John Clay. Clay hasn't pushed hard enough recently and Davis retains his job, although in the exhibition against the Bills, he was called for a hold, a false start that wiped out a touchdown, and was beaten for a sack.
And Al Davis is not averse to union bigwigs. Upshaw, of course, is a former Raider who became prominent in the union while still on the playing roster. Last month, when Upshaw entered the Hall of Fame, he had Davis present him in the ceremony at Canton, Ohio.
"Al Davis has gotten his reputation as being smarter than the average cat," Holloway told the Globe's Mark Blaudschun Tuesday night. "He's very convincing. I don't know if anyone can convince me to play more than one year but if there is a person, it's Al Davis.
"Everybody wants to be a Raider at one time or another in their career."