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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Raiders unable to sack Rich Gannon

Their former quarterback's candor about the team's struggles isn't sitting well with Al Davis.

October 02, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

The factor that has Rich Gannon silver-and-blacklisted by the Oakland Raiders is one of the many qualities that makes him their impact player of this decade.

The quarterback-turned-CBS analyst speaks his mind and stands his ground.

"I've talked to several players, and not one of them has any issue with anything I've ever said or done in reference to their team," Gannon said in a phone interview. "But there's certainly someone who's not happy. But I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't say that the product on the field has not been up to snuff the last six years or so."

That "someone" is Raiders owner Al Davis, and last week his club tried to ban Gannon from its headquarters for CBS production meetings. (The league wouldn't allow that and, besides, Gannon didn't arrive in Oakland early enough to make them.) Last season, the Raiders were equally unsuccessful in trying to have Gannon removed from the broadcast team covering one of their games.

"The point needed to be made that you've been unduly critical for too often and too long for us to embrace you and welcome you into our building," said John Herrera, spokesman for the Raiders, who have lost 11 or more games for an NFL-record six consecutive seasons.

Gannon conceded he was "taken aback" by the Raiders' attempts to lock him out and said their reaction was unique among NFL teams.

"I've had absolutely zero problems with the league, any team, any owner, any GM, any coach, any players or any PR staff," he said. "My style is never to be condescending or arrogant or judgmental. I wasn't that way as a player, and I'm not that way as an analyst. My job, though, is to be fair and to be honest and to give my analysis of what I see."

As a player, it was Gannon's unflinching candor and attention to detail that -- along with a collection of like-minded veterans and coach Jon Gruden -- helped reshape a rudderless franchise. He was the NFL's most valuable player in 2002, leading the Raiders to their first Super Bowl in 19 years.

"I came from organizations and systems where all I had to do is play and worry about my job," he said. "When I came to Oakland, that just wasn't the situation. It was a team that was in disarray. In terms of leadership, in terms of the structure, it just wasn't what I was accustomed to. It was very hard for me to function initially.

"But what I tried to do was work within the confines of the building to change it. I never tried to publicly embarrass anybody or humiliate anybody. . . . After victories I tried to deflect as much attention away from me and onto coaches and players, and in defeat I tried to shoulder as much of the responsibility as I could.

"That's something I'm most proud of as a player in this league, and it's something that I learned at a very early point in my career. I don't think anybody can argue that."

L.A. Jaguars?

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver told reporters this week that his team has got to start doing better at the box office to make staying in Jacksonville a workable option.

"We know that we can't be a viable NFL city if we only sell 46,000 seats in a 66,000-seat stadium," Weaver said.

Can the Jaguars do better in that city? Weaver called that the $64,000 question. Of course, there's a heck of a lot more riding on it than that.

Brown out

Brady Quinn was replaced as Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback this week by Derek Anderson. Quinn was the eighth starting quarterback for the Browns in the last 11 openers, and the sixth of those to lose the job for something other than an injury.

How ineffective is Cleveland's offense? The Browns have lost nine in a row and have scored one offensive touchdown over that span.

The water boy

Is Tom Coughlin going soft? Before last Sunday's game, the New York Giants' coach handed out bottles of sports drink to his players, even taking orders as to which flavors they liked best. It was a surprisingly humble gesture for a coach known to be a little aloof.

"It was quite shocking, to say the least," linebacker Danny Clark told the Newark Star-Ledger. "And it lets you know he's definitely evolved into a guy who shows that he cares."

On the run

Reader Sigmund Bloom of Austin, Texas, made an interesting observation this week: Six of the seven undefeated teams employ a running back-by-committee philosophy. That's the New York Giants and Jets, Denver, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Baltimore.

The seventh team is Minnesota, which relies on a slightly different strategy -- all Adrian Peterson, all the time.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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