This One’s For You, Al

Now that a quarter of a season has passed by, there are definitely teams that have impressed me and others who have not lived up to expectations. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans have all put up great numbers and succeeded against very com­petitive playoff-caliber teams. Contrarily, teams like the “Dream Team” Philadel­phia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and St. Louis Rams have all failed to live up to preseason predictions.

Anyone can track the shortcomings and surprising successes of these teams in the newest edition of the Madden NFL video game, in which you can compare the ratings of each of the teams prior to the beginning of the season and now. Having followed, I’ve watched teams like the Lions soar from a 79 rating to an 89 and teams like the Eagles drop from an 87 rating to a McNabb-era 80 rating. However, as I will go more in-depth with this discussion next week, this article should be left to discuss one of the greatest individuals to have been a part of the National Football League.

The person to whom I refer is of course late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. Davis was a pioneer in football and one of the most respected and in­teresting owners in the league. I wish the Raiders luck in finding another guy with the courage to take a kicker in the first round of the draft. Davis is defi­nitely one big reason why Raiders fans are some of the most intense and dedi­cated that there are in the league. It is a pleasure to see his team and players returning to their old form with the help of their new coach, Hue Jackson. The younger players are bringing their game to the next level and making the team a contender to win the division and possibly the games beyond that.

This past week, the Raiders played a fun game and a very memorable game against the Texans, another great aspiring team, that went down to the wire. It was great to see so many parts of the Raid­ers working together as a team to bring home a victory. On offense, the Raiders managed to put a more than capable pass game forward, with the emergence of a possible quality receiver in former first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey. This was unexpected considering they also have the league’s rushing leader in Dar­ren McFadden, who was held to just 51 yards on the ground. Even without Mc­Fadden’s legs, it was great to see another dimension to this team. On defense, they held the Texans to 20 points, which is not too shabby against a high-powered of­fense, and it was great to see the big man, Lamarr Houston, get an interception off of a John Henderson tip. However, it was Michael Huff, and really the whole de­fense, that deserves credit for making the final interception to close it out and win the game.

Last, but definitely not least, I have to commend one of my personal favor­ite players in the league – the “Polish Cannon” as his teammates call him, Se­bastian Janikowski. Although it remains true that a kicker should really never be a first round pick, it was great to see a player who Al Davis trusted so much kick four field goals from long distance, three of which were from 50-plus yards away. At the least the Raiders have had a consistent kicker through all these years of torturous play.

It was also wonderful to watch the Raiders honor Al Davis by wearing “AL” decals on their helmets, as well as watch­ing all of the first rounders perform for the guy who trusted in them. Needless to say, Hue Jackson was emotional during and after the win. I’m very excited for the team Chris Berman calls the “Raiderssss” this year, and I most definitely believe they are contenders for the playoffs both within their division and for the Wild Card. Hopefully for fans of the NFL, and obviously the Raiders, this success will continue.

On a completely different note, I’d like to quickly go over some possible changes you may see before the trade deadline passes. Already, the Jets have traded away Derrick Mason to the Tex­ans, and the Seattle Seahawks sent away former first round pick Aaron Curry to the Raiders. There are some more moves that people should be on the lookout for before all is said and done. Look for the Eagles to deal away one of their cornerbacks, namely Antonio Rodgers- Cromartie, to get some help with their horrid run defense and 1-4 start. Also, there is something quite intriguing hap­pening between the Cincinatti Bengals and Seahawks with the possibility of Car­son Palmer heading to the West Coast. The move would reunite Palmer with his old USC coach, Pete Carroll, and could be a great trade for both teams.

The Seahawks need a better quarter­back than Tarvaris Jackson to get any­where. He is not the answer, and Carson Palmer is worthless to the Bengals at this point, as he clearly does not want to play in orange and black any time in the near future.

Another intriguing move could be Kyle Orton to the Dolphins, as me­diocre Chad Henne is out for the year and new starter Tim Tebow has shown enough in limited time for John Fox and the Denver Broncos. As with many emerging stars, he seems like the best option for both the future and now.

Contact Albert Raminfard at [email protected].