It's Pro Bowl weekend so I sat down to watch the game knowing it was the last game of the season with any Raider players taking the field. Sure it is a virtually meaningless game. It's sole purpose being to give credit to those players that performed well individually during the season. But with just one more game on the slate (the Super Bowl) before we settle in for the long NFL offseason, I even watched the 2 ½ hour ESPN pregame leadup.
The ESPN NFL crew was going through the All-Decade team, announcing each player one by one. And that was pretty cool. Lechler was named the All-Decade punter of course. And Charles Woodson was on the team as well.
But then they took a page out of Mark Schlereth's NFL Live segment, "Off the Mark". This time calling it the "Come on!" plays of the year. They seemed pretty on-target through most of it. Then well-known bitter Raider hater, Tom Jackson took over the segment and went on a tirade that was WAY out of line.
The whole segment was just about three minutes long and the last half of it was ALL Raiders follies. Or Jackson would like you to think they were follies. The first one was the play in which Tommy Kelly's pants came down after a tackle. I laughed hysterically when it originally happened and I laughed again when they showed it in the segment. It is even funnier because Kelly made a tackle for no gain on Knowshon Moreno with the Broncos threatening to score and that tackle aided in the Raiders winning the game. But after that clip, the rest wasn't so funny.
The next play was the punt return TD in the game against the Texans. The clip highlighted Shane Lechler as he tried to get over to make the tackle but couldn't get there in time. To which Jackson cackles and says "Can't make the tackle, so I guess I will just keep going to the sideline" as if Lechler was not making an effort. And that was clearly not what was happening. Also, Lechler, JUST prior to that, was named as part of the All-Decade team. Not to mention, he was on the sideline in the game the ESPN crew was covering. Extremely disrespectful.
The next play was a JaMarcus Russell interception. A play of which, Jackson probably could have chosen one of many. Then he showed the play in which Louis Murphy and Jonnie Lee Higgins were pushed into one another causing them both to fall down. That one I would have given him, but then he called it "A play the Raiders have perfected. And to prove it, here they are at it again" as he showed the play in which Trevor Scott was running to intercept a tipped ball and he ran into Tyvon Branch who was also going for the ball. Wow, what an odd occurrence that was huh? Two defenders going for the ball and neither gets it? Does this seem somehow rare or extraordinary to him? Tom apparently doesn't watch a lot of football.
Mind you he was barely holding it together through the entire segment as he was choking back laughter. So much so that Chris Berman seemed quite taken aback by the hysterics Jackson was in. "Did you enjoy that Tom?" Berman asked as if pointing out the obvious. To which Jackson responded emphatically, "YES! I did." And at the end of it all Jackson called the Raiders the "Come on!' team of the decade." Really Tom? You mean the Raiders that dominated the first three years of this decade? The Raiders that were in the Super Bowl in this decade? "Come on!" Tom.
Tom Jackson has a serious bitterness problem. And I am not just talking about the perpetual bitter beer face he seems to wear. You see, he was on the Broncos during the late 70's and early 80's when the Raiders were the best team in football. Back then the Raiders used to beat those Broncos like little orange headed step children. And he has never gotten over it. He always had a big mouth even in his playing days (literally and figuratively). He has rarely ever missed an opportunity to take a verbal shot at the Raiders because of all the physical and emotional shots he took from them during his playing days.
Well, I am quite sure the Raiders and their fans are delighted to see that the punishment he took from the Raiders and the hatred he harbors for them still keeps him up at night. Keep fighting that fight Tom.
Nnamdi leaves hurt
Immediately following the Tom Jackson shenanigans and his disrespect of Pro Bowler and All-Decade punter Shane Lechler, the ESPN crew switch over to Suzie Kolber who quotes AFC Pro Bowl coach Norv Turner in saying that Darelle Revis is "the only true shut-down corner in the league". Old scarface (Norv, not Suzie) is saying this because of the job Revis did on his Chargers in their one playoff game and ensuing playoff exit. But, seriously, how short term can Turner's memory be? Afterall, his team plays the Raiders twice a year in which his receivers line up against Nnamdi Asomugha and are primarily "shut down". Hence the title "shut down corner".
Not only that but it was just last season that Nnamdi was given the title of the best corner in the NFL while people were touting HIM as "the only true shut-down corner in the league." Does Turner think that Nnamdi has just forgotten how to play since last season? Or does he think that being a shut-down corner is like being the Highlander-- "There can be only one"?
A little bit later, when the players were announced Mike Tirico was sure to correct the "oversight" as he refered to Nnamdi and Revis as "The NFL's TWO shut-down corners." The class that Mike Tirico exudes seems to be in short supply around ESPN these days. Which makes it that much more noticeable.
The class of Tirico aside, Nnamdi doesn't need Norv's approval anyway. He just went out there and lined up in his usual corner spot and shut down his side of the field as usual. That is until he went out with a knee injury after the first quarter. He was replaced by Champ Bailey, who at one time was considered a shut-down corner himself. But those days are long gone. With Nnamdi sidelined, the NFC threw to that side twice in the next two drives. Both were passes to DeSean Jackson in the flat on a screen and both went for touchdowns. While Nnamdi was still in the game, they tried a pass into the flat and he came shooting up to tackle Roddy White in the open field for minimal gain. The only other pass was another short pass that Nnamdi tackled immediately. That was the play that he went out injured on. The training staff was checking out his knee on the sideline, and although he didn't return to the game, he was seen on the sideline chopping it up with his AFC teammates. He would no doubt have returned if this were the regular season. I mean, this is the guy who played the first few games with a chipped bone in his wrist. Including the first game of the season against the Chargers in which he had a heck of a game. But, I suppose Norv Turner forgot about that one too.
Oh I know what it is; Norv Turner is hesitant to compliment any defender but since it was Revis who helped send his team home without a playoff win, Norv can just say it is because the Chargers got unlucky in meeting up with the ONE MAN that could stop them. Nice try Norvel. If you want to blame it on one man, you should look at your own roster. I will give you a hint; look for that tiny guy who wears two different shoes.
Seabass Karma Curse
Speaking of that tiny, one shoed, choker...Nate Kaeding was named to the Pro Bowl although Sebastian Janikowski had better numbers. Kaeding was also named as an All-Pro despite Janikowski kicking the fourth longest field goal in NFL history combined with his having kicked and made more field goals outside of 50 yards than any other kicker in the NFL. And that is when Kaeding fell victim to the Seabass Karma Curse. The Chargers faced the Jets in the second round of the AFC playoffs. A game in which he lined up and missed three field goals that directly resulted in the Chargers losing the game. Oh well, at least he still had the Pro Bowl. Well, not so much. He would pull up gimpy during the Pro Bowl practices last week and had to be replaced. The curse had taken it's first victim.
It seemed that the door was open for Janikowski to get his rightful invite to the Pro Bowl afteral. But amazingly, he didn't get the call. The honor was bestowed upon Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter. Suddenly my curiosity over Janikowski getting snubbed was being shared by a lot of others as well.
It sure would have been nice to see John Condo snap the ball to Shane Lechler for the hold and Sebastian Janikowski boot it through the uprights. That should have happened. But it didn't.
Instead, Carpenter got the nod. Then he trotted out in a meaningless, pressure-free game in his home stadium and shanked a chip shot field goal. And the Seabass Karma Curse strikes again. Or Kaeding and Carpenter could simply be overrated...whichever.