It's a story that has the intrigue and professionalism you might find in an argument between middle schoolers.
Gannon, who won the 2002 MVP in Oakland and led the team to that season's Super Bowl, said Wednesday on his Sirius radio show:
"I did something yesterday that I can't believe even I did. I picked up the phone and I reached out to Al Davis. So I called Mr. Davis, I have not spoken with him yet, but I'm happy to help out in any way I can.
"I'd love to help JaMarcus Russell(notes) if he wants help. I'd love to help Tom Cable and that organization. It's important. Listen, seven straight seasons where they've lost 11 or more games? Something's not right."
One day later, a Raiders spokesman told a newspaper said that it's Gannon who needs the help. Gannon promptly rescinded his offer on his radio show.
If that was all there was to the story, Gannon would come across as the spurned, selfless hero while the Raiders would be the evil organization unappreciative of such kind gestures. But consider this:
Earlier this season the Raiders asked CBS Sports to ban Gannon from a production meeting for an upcoming game in Oakland because of the broadcaster's public criticism of the team in the years since his retirement. This obviously ridiculous request was turned down and only served to enhance the image of the Raiders as a clueless, chaotic franchise, as did these quotes a Raiders executive gave to The San Francisco Chronicle:
"Rich Gannon is not welcome here ...
"He's attacked us on a regular basis since becoming a member of the media. After affording him the opportunity to establish a career here, he has since gone on to attack us in a way that's totally unacceptable ...
"We think in a post 9/11 world, [Gannon saying the Raiders should blow up the building and start over is] not a very proper thing to say. It's uncalled for. He seems to be a guy who can't get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself.
So the Raiders and Rich Gannon have a long-running feud. He says they need to blow up the building, they want to ban him from ever associating with the team again. And after all that, we're supposed to believe that Rich Gannon magnanimously called over to the Raiders to offer his unsolicited help to JaMarcus Russell? (Plus, when did Rich Gannon turn into Vince Lombardi? I mean, the Redskins are pretty bad but you don't see Mark Rypien trying to play the role of knight in shining armor.)
If Gannon says he called, then I believe he called. But I also believe he only offered because he knew he'd be turned down, a topic which would subsequently be a great topic (and help get great publicity) for his radio show. Why else would he have mentioned the offer before anyone from the Raiders said no? Why did he say he couldn't believe he reached out to Al Davis? If he was seriously offering his services, why would that be so unbelievable?
This isn't meant to be a defense of the Raiders, not by any stretch. That organization deserves every bit of criticism that comes its way. But in this case it seems like Rich Gannon was only helping to set up the team for failure. He of all people should know that if there's one thing Al Davis and company don't need help with, it's that.
- Rich Gannon