From Oakland, California
I’m not sure what Ralph Nader is doing these days but I think he should investigate and sue the National Football League in the name of anyone who paid money to see the Chiefs and Raiders play on Sunday.
To call what happened on the field at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum “professional football” qualifies as fraud, bait and switch, deceptive advertising and assorted other crimes against the consumer and humanity.
Of course, with two bad teams facing off, it wasn’t like we were expecting a brand of football that would remind anybody of the playoffs. It certainly did not. There were so many negatives in this game, so many mental errors, so many dropped passes, poor passes, bad decisions and penalties.
Positives, even for the winning Chiefs were few and far between. They won their second game instead of losing their eighth; that’s positive. Jamaal Charles ran for 103 yards and scored the team’s first rushing TD of the season; that’s positive. Dustin Colquitt had a net punting average of 47.5 yards; that was a positive.
That’s was it. There are so many examples to provide a picture into how poorly this game was played, coached and officiated. Here are just a couple examples. With less than five minutes to play, Chiefs DB Maurice Leggett was back to handle an Oakland punt. His team was leading by six points. Caution and ball security was paramount. As he settled under the punt at his own 30-yard line, Leggett mishandled the ball. Bending over to pick it up, he kicked it away. Reaching again, the ball slipped from his fingers again. Finally, just a few seconds before the Raiders coverage was about to engulf him and the ball, Leggett finally got hold of the ball. He ended up losing four yards on the return, but he kept the ball.
Here’s another: leading 13-10 in the third quarter, on the road and facing a 4th-and-1 at the Raiders 14-yard line, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley decided rather than take a fairly automatic 32-yard field goal, he decided to go for the first down. And, he didn’t call a running play; he called for a bootleg pass play. The Chiefs didn’t make it.
And a third from the guys in striped shirts: as the Raiders were coming down the field late in the fourth quarter, backup QB Bruce Gradkowski connected with WR Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 22-yard play with 39 seconds to play. The officials on the field ruled the play a catch. But the replay booth stopped play for a review. The replay clearly showed that Heyward-Bey did not get both feet down. It should have been an incomplete pass. But after reviewing the tape, referee Mike Carey decided it was a good catch.
The whole afternoon was like this. Play-after-play, series-after-series, four quarters in all, this was something far short of NFL football. They played a United Football League game down the road in San Jose on Saturday night. Wonder if this game looked any better than that one.
A large number of people in the Bay Area were smart enough to stay away from this stinker just based on pre-game scouting report. The Raiders were 2-6. The Chiefs were 1-7. One of Oakland’s two victories was against the Chiefs. There wasn’t a single superstar on the field for either team. That’s why the rest of northern California wasn’t subjected to seeing this game live on television. Everyone from Carmel, to Sacramento, to the giant redwoods to the north and ships heading to San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean found better things to do with their afternoons.
Supposedly there were 40,720 poor souls in the stadium, but that number itself deserves investigation. They could have easily had the few souls who populated the third deck move down to the lower and middle levels and still had some open seats there. Everyone who could produce a ticket stub should be given a complete refund and a little somethin’, somethin’ for their misery.
How these two teams managed to even score a total of 26 points is hard to figure. The game featured a total of 590 yards. That might make it should like it was a good offensive game. Let me assure you, it was not. With the exception of a handful of big yardage plays for both teams, this game was one mistake after another, one dropped pass after another, one negative play, one mental mistake ‚Ä¶ I’m figuring you’ve got the picture by now.
I wonder what Al Davis was thinking in the fourth quarter as his team lost for the seventh straight time at home to the Chiefs. In the last few years, he’s invested a lot of money in first-round draft picks like QB JaMarcus Russell, RB Darren McFadden and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. By some accounting, he gave those three players alone $159.25 million, with $86.5 million in guaranteed dollars.
Russell was eight of 24 in the game, for 64 passing yards before he was yanked from the game for backup QB Bruce Gradkowski. McFadden ran the ball four times for 11 yards. Heyward-Bey had only that 22-yard non-catch catch. He also bobbled the ball on the next play and allowed Chiefs SS Mike Brown to grab the game ending interception.
There was a time when the AFC West was one of the best divisions in football. That time is not now. The question on this afternoon for most everybody was whether the Raiders dragged the Chiefs down to their level, or it was vice-a-versa.
But when you are the Chiefs, and you’ve won only three of your last 30 games, you could care less how the victory came your way. An Ugly Betty is better than not winning at all.