Randy Hanson chose a football analogy to express his disappointment that Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable won't face charges for an incident that left the defensive assistant with a broken jaw.
A lifelong Raiders fan, Hanson told Yahoo! Sports Thursday night that while watching the news conference on television from his home in Livermore, Calif., "it felt like the Rob Lytle fumble all over again."
The reference was to one of the great perceived injustices in Raiders history: Lytle, a Denver Broncos running back, coughing up the ball near the goal line after being hit by Jack Tatum, and Oakland nose tackle Mike McCoy picking it up and heading for an easy touchdown in the third quarter of the 1977 AFC championship game. But an official on the opposite side of the field prematurely blew the play dead, and Denver retained possession and scored a touchdown en route to a 20-17 victory.
"The Raiders would've gone to the Super Bowl," Hanson recalled. "But they blew the whistle, and all [Oakland fans] could do was shake our heads."
Hanson limited his comments to a few remarks, but he was clearly troubled by Napa County district attorney Gary Lieberstein's assertion that there were "many inconsistencies" in the exiled assistant's accounts of his dispute with Cable during Thursday's announcement. Hanson gave his side of the story to Y! Sports earlier this month, claiming he was "blindsided" by Cable during an argument in a meeting room at the Marriott-Napa Valley and that the coach threatened to kill him while being restrained by two other assistants.
Ultimately Lieberstein concluded that accounts given to Napa Police investigators by the three assistants who witnessed the incident (Cable refused to submit to questioning) were "credible" and that any physical or verbal interaction between the two men did not rise to the level of assault. Lieberstein said he believed that Cable had bumped into defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, who then collided with Hanson, causing Hanson to fall out of his chair.
Scoffed one source close to Hanson: "Yeah, that's believable. I've been doing some research, and it appears that's the first case in recorded history of someone getting 'accidentally' knocked out of a chair and breaking [his] jaw."
Hanson's attorney, John McGuinn, did not return phone calls seeking comment, but he indicated last Thursday in an interview with Y! Sports that a civil suit – likely against Cable and the Raiders – would proceed regardless of Lieberstein's decision. "I personally could care less whether they prosecute the case, because we don't need the DA to prosecute this case to pursue it as a civil matter," McGuinn said at the time. "His case is as strong without the criminal prosecution as it is with it."
On Thursday McGuinn told AOL Fanhouse, "We have our civil case and we will proceed accordingly." The attorney seemed to begin laying the groundwork later Thursday when he told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area that people will soon find out that Cable is "not a nice guy."
"All I know is they had abundant evidence to proceed, but they chose not to," McGuinn told the cable channel. "I don't know why they didn't."
On Wednesday, Hanson drove to Napa and spent nearly three hours being interviewed by Napa Police detective Mike Walund for a third time since the Aug. 5 incident which landed him in an emergency room with a fractured jaw and two cracked teeth. A source close to Hanson said he was asked to go over his account again in great detail and was pressed about possible inconsistencies, but that the coach insisted to Walund, "My story has never changed."
Cable could still face discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy. The league issued a statement after Thursday's announcement saying it would review the decision and "following that review, we will take appropriate action, if any, under our policies."
Said Raiders spokesperson Mike Taylor in a statement, "The Raider organization waited patiently for a comprehensive legal process to conclude and now this matter has been resolved. Our focus has been and remains on the New York Jets."
Sources close to Hanson, who is still on the Raiders' payroll but has been asked to stay away from the team's training facility, say he is worried that the fallout of Thursday's announcement will keep him from landing another coaching job. However, one source said, Hanson remains confident that "there's a long way to go and this will all work out in the end after all the facts are brought to light."
Though Hanson wouldn't elaborate on his feelings about Lieberstein's decision not to file charges, he did indicate that he has not stopped rooting for the Raiders in the wake of the two-month ordeal.
"If there's a silver lining," he said, "it's that they got this out of the way on a Thursday, and now they can focus on [playing] the Jets [Sunday]. This is a really important game, and maybe this decision will help them win."
- Randy Hanson