Dysfunctional Bunch: Fall of the Raiders

Photo Raiders coach Tom Cable, left and defensive assistant Randy Hanson in undated file photos.
(AP Photos/NFL)

Commitment to Excellence? Just win, baby? It’s been quite the opposite the past six years for the Oakland Raiders, who find themselves embroiled in yet another controversy. Last season marked the team’s sixth straight campaign of 10 or more losses. In the previous 43 seasons in franchise history, the Raiders had lost 10 or more games only four times.

However, to boil the misery down to just losing is telling only one side of the story. The Raiders have been a mess: from players wanting to “smack” coach Bill Callahan to Art Shell once publicly accusing an unnamed non-player/coach of being a traitor. Now there is a report and investigation into head coach Tom Cable’s rumored attack of assistant Randy Hanson.

Here’s a chronicle of the Silver & Whack since a certain player decided to take a little adventure before a big game in 2003.

Robbins breaks curfew
Jan. 24-25, 2003

The glorious week came to a halt when All-Pro center Barret Robbins went AWOL prior to Super Bowl XXXVII, prompting his dismissal by the team and eventual hospital admission. Robbins’ adventure included accounts of drinking binges in Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego’s Pacific Beach.

  Super beat-down
Jan. 26, 2003

No Barret. No pass protection. No fourth Super Bowl ring for Al Davis. The Buccaneers, with coach Jon Gruden acting as if he had the latest Raiders’ playbook still in his possession, dismantled Oakland 48-21. Regular season MVP Rich Gannon had one of the game’s all-time worst performances by a QB: five INTs (3 returned for TDs) and five sacks.

Romo uses teammate as punching bag
Aug. 24, 2003

Bill Romanowski played in five Super Bowls during his career, winning four rings. However, he might be best known for controversy. Romanowski got into a fight with teammate Marcus Williams, ripping the tight end’s helmet off and punching him in the face. Williams suffered a broken bone around his left eye and was subsequently placed on injured reserve. A lawsuit by Williams against Romanowski was reportedly settled out of court for a reported $415,000.

MVP goes down
Oct. 20, 2003

Gannon suffered a right shoulder injury in the loss to Kansas City and missed the final seven games.

Callahan fired
Dec. 30, 2003

One way or another, Bill Callahan was going to be run out of town following a 4-12 season. Callahan, who coached the team to a Super Bowl berth in his first season, alienated players with his actions and comments such as the Raiders must have been “the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game” following a loss to the Broncos. “It got to a point where we’re literally telling guys in the locker room, ‘Nobody hit this guy, OK?’ ” then-veteran WR Tim Brown told the NFL Network.

Stiffed by Sean?
Jan. 22, 2004

According to media reports, then-Cowboys assistant Sean Payton was on the verge of becoming Oakland’s next coach. It didn’t happen and depending on whom you believe, there was never a deal in the first place. “I don’t think Sean Payton turned down the job because Sean Payton was never offered the job,” Davis said.

  So instead …
Jan. 26, 2004

The Raiders hired Norv Turner, then the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in Miami, as head coach. Turner, best known for guiding the Cowboys’ offense during a couple of Super Bowl-winning seasons, had reached the playoffs only once in seven seasons with the Redskins.

Guessing wrong on Gallery
April 24, 2004

Robert Gallery was supposed to be a “sure thing” in the ’04 NFL draft class. A “10-time Pro Bowler at left tackle” some observers predicted. Not quite. The No. 2 overall pick has been unable to lock down the left tackle position, currently starting at left guard.

  Sleeping with the enemy
Aug. 10, 2004

WR Tim Brown – the last remaining Los Angeles Raider and franchise’s all-time leader in receptions/receiving yards/scoring catches – was released on Aug. 5. A week later, he reunited with former coach Gruden in Tampa.

Gannon gone … for good
Sept. 26, 2004

Gannon suffered a vertebra fracture in a victory against the Buccaneers and never played another game. He officially retired on Aug. 6, 2005. The Raiders, 2-1 with the victory, have not been better than .500 in the regular season since.

  Raving over Randy
Feb. 23, 2005

The Raiders thought they were headed in the right direction when they acquired five-time Pro Bowl WR Randy Moss from the Vikings for LB Napoleon Harris and two draft picks. Moss got off to a good start, producing 100-plus yards in his first two games.

More coaching ‘Turn’-over
Jan. 3, 2006

Norv Turner has proved to be good when he has Pro Bowl-caliber players at QB (Troy Aikman/Philip Rivers); RB (Emmitt Smith/LaDainian Tomlinson); and as passing targets (Michael Irvin/Antonio Gates). That wasn’t the case in Oakland where he got fired after a 9-23 stint in two seasons.

Let’s do it again
Feb. 10, 2006

Seventeen years after making Art Shell the first black head coach of the NFL, Shell resumed that role with the organization. Shell, also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in ’89, long had been waiting for a second chance as head coach.

  Not that Walsh
Feb. 23, 2006

Tom Walsh, who hadn’t coached in the NFL since getting fired alongside Shell in 1994, is hired to run the Raiders’ offense. His occupation at the time: operating a bed-and-breakfast ranch and serving as mayor of Swan Valley, Idaho.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea
Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006

Fourteen games into his second stint, rumors surfaced of Shell’s pending dismissal as the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter reported on a Thursday night contest that Shell would be fired at the end of the season. The Raiders released a statement denying the report and labeling Schefter as a “false rumor mongerer.” Ultimately, Shell was fired at season’s end.

Tantalizing Trojans
Jan. 23, 2007

Lane Kiffin – USC’s offensive coordinator, son of Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and 31 at the time – was hired as head coach. The Raiders reportedly had tried to hire USC assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian beforehand.

  Failed experiment
April 29, 2007

Moss’ unhappy time in Oakland came to an end when the Raiders traded him to New England for a fourth- round draft pick. Moss seemingly spent more time hurt or complaining than producing (1,558 yards, 11 TDs).

Russell the bystander
Sept. 14, 2007

There were whispers prior to the ’07 draft that the Raiders might have a hard time signing LSU QB JaMarcus Russell if they took him with the No. 1 overall pick. The murmurs turned into screams of “I told you so” when Russell missed all of training camp before signing a contract and joining the club.

  What happens in Vegas …
June 16, 2008

Receiver Javon Walker was found unconscious after getting robbed and beaten in the wee hours of the morning. Walker, who suffered facial injuries in the attack, recovered in time to join the team for training camp in late July. He promptly reportedly offered his resignation and return of his signing bonus (which was rejected by Davis) and has not played in the season’s first two games.

‘Step down, please!’
mid-January, 2008

Imagine the first-year coach’s surprise when he was reportedly given a resignation paper to sign. The owner’s botched attempt to get rid of the young coach has led to months of ugliness, including Kiffin not wearing Raiders apparel during the Senior Bowl.

  Agony ended
Sept. 30, 2008

After weeks of speculation, Kiffin was fired – two days following a 28-18 loss to San Diego, Oakland’s 15th defeat in Kiffin’s 20 contests. Because the Raiders are citing “cause” for his departure, they reportedly will try not to pay Kiffin for the remainder of his contract.

Another draft debacle
April 25, 2009

The Raiders are widely criticized when they bypass Michael Crabtree, believed by many to be the best WR in the class, and Jeremy Maclin with the No. 7 pick. Instead they select Darrius Heyward-Bey, who possesses much-coveted speed but was said to have questionable hands.

  Down goes Hanson
Aug. 17, 2009

Reports surface that assistant Randy Hanson was attacked during a meeting at the team’s training camp facility in Napa, Calif. It’s later reported that coach Tom Cable, right, was the attacker. Cable has denied involvement, but the matter is under investigation by the league.