(11-02) 20:56 PST —
The Raiders quite possibly are setting up Tom Cable to walk the plank.
That would fall into the category of zany Raiders’ hijinks, like the kind in which coaches get fired by the light of an overhead projector and assistant coaches attack filing cabinets with their jaws.
But we have entered a new territory: Creepyland.
The Raiders released two statements Monday in the wake of an ESPN report in which two women accuse Cable of physical abuse.
One statement declares that the Raiders will “undertake a serious evaluation of this matter.” Ominously (for Cable), the statement immediately notes that the Raiders have dismissed employees in the past for “inappropriate conduct” and have kept the reasons confidential.
The other statement is where matters get creepy.
“ESPN’s role in this matter must be carefully examined,” the statement reads. “ESPN routinely disseminates falsehoods about the Raiders. During the last year, ESPN (working with someone who was in this organization) engaged in a calculated effort to distort the truth about the Raiders, utilizing lies and innuendo.”
The Raiders imply that the recent Cable report on ESPN just might be more of these falsehoods, lies and/or innuendo.
A couple of things here.
One, Raiders, may we please see a list of the falsehoods routinely disseminated by ESPN? And I don’t mean rumors that didn’t prove true, or crazy speculation, or mean-spirited remarks. Give the public a list of actual ESPN lies about the Raiders, several of them, or shut the darn heck up.
Two, when you use the terms “falsehoods,” “lies” and “innuendo” in referring to the ESPN report in which two women accuse your head coach of striking them, you have vaulted out of paranoia and into slime.
To be crystal clear, there is no charge in this column that the Raiders, from Al Davis down, take a casual attitude toward male-on-female abuse. The Raiders’ family will never fully recover from the 1999 strangulation murder of Tracey Biletnikoff, daughter of the Raiders’ great wide receiver, Fred Biletnikoff.
All the more reason the Raiders erred with colossal insensitivity in urging an examination of whether two women who claim Cable physically assaulted them might be part of ESPN’s so-called dissemination of lies and innuendo.
Cable’s former wife claims he punched her in the jaw two decades ago, and abused her throughout their marriage. A recent girlfriend claims Cable slapped her. We know this: Cable admits he slapped his wife 21 years ago, and she did take out a restraining order against him. No innuendo there.
The Raiders’ owner and top executives wallow in paranoia. The media is out to get them. For instance, the media dwells on the Raiders’ NFL-record run of six seasons of losing 11 or more games, while ignoring the team’s true identity, stamped in bold black letters on the cover of the media guide and on the bottom of each news release: “THE TEAM OF THE DECADES.”
Still, it’s shocking and dismaying that in the Raiders’ anger over the systematic attack from ESPN, Davis and his people can’t resist making the connection between lies/innuendo and a report of the alleged abuse of two women.
Why are the women going public now? Not that the timing matters. Some will suspect a connection with Randy Hanson and a civil suit he may file against Cable and the Raiders. It would seem to strengthen Hanson’s case if his attorney can paint Cable as a man with a history of anger and violence issues, tossed into the public arena by ESPN.
It might help persuade a jury that Randy Hanson wasn’t merely a victim of his own clumsiness.
Speaking of which: Cable shouldn’t be coaching right now. He should be on NFL suspension, because even the Napa County district attorney concedes that at some point during Hanson’s mysterious mishap in that hotel room, Cable had his hands on Hanson’s shirt, seemingly a violation of NFL rules. But that’s another matter.
What’s really bizarre in Monday’s two news releases is the juxtaposition of warnings.
In one statement, the Raiders say they’re evaluating the matter, and alert us that they have fired employees in the past for inappropriate conduct. In the other statement, they call into question the validity of ESPN’s report.
So the Raiders might wind up firing their coach over charges they suggest might be nothing but phony-baloney smears in ESPN’s attacks on the Raiders.