With another loss on the books, a 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders have dropped to 0-10 on the season. The Raiders are hoping to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL team to lose all 16 games in a season. Do the Lions drink champagne if the Raiders win? Do the Raiders ever win a game again? Does the team move to San Antonio? What ever happened to Willie Gault?
I ask all of these pertinent questions and more in my Wednesday conversation with the ghost of Al Davis.
Ghost Of Al Davis: Good morning, son. Hell of a day, isn't it?
ME: Uh, sure. Unless you're a fan of the Raiders.
G.O.A.D.: Good thing I'm not a fan, then. Right?
ME: You were an owner of the team for 39 years and part of the organization for 50.
G.O.A.D: Yeah. And I won 3 Super Bowls, an AFL Championship, had numerous playoff appearances, and hired the NFL's first African American head coach. That doesn't mean I'm a fan.
ME: O-K... Let me ask you about this years team. Ten losses to start the year. Any advice for their last six games?
G.O.A.D.: Simple. Just win, baby. (laughs to himself for a good five minutes) Seriously. They are about to join very elite company.
ME: I wouldn't necessarily call it elite.
G.O.A.D.: Oh, it's very elite. You must not know a lot about football... Hey, you looking for a head coaching job? I know a team that's hiring... I kid, but seriously. Elite company. Only one other team in history has done that [gone 0-16]. That, son, is an accomplishment. It's one thing missing from my resume, that's for sure.
ME: Okay, well, while on the subject...Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins were known to pop open a bottle of champagne when the last undefeated team lost their first game. Do you think members of the '08 Lions will do that?
There is a long period of silence. He has fallen asleep. Light snoring. I reach to wake him up.
G.O.A.D.: Bo Jackson!
ME: Excuse me?
G.O.A.D.: Bo Jackson. You asked me who is better than Barry Sanders.
ME: I didn't.
G.O.A.D.: You calling me a liar?
ME: No... So listen, there is a rumor that Oakland ownership, your son Mark, is exploring a move to San Antonio. Is this a good move for Mark and the franchise?
G.O.A.D.: Of course. You know what, he moves the team there, they suck for a few years, and he moves them back. No love lost. Plus, the San Antonio Raiders has quite a ring to it. Don't you think?
ME: No. Won't fans get tired of this constant moving?
G.O.A.D.: Hell no. They never got tired of Vince Evans, they never got tired of me giving bloated contracts to unproven or aging talent, so yes, they will keep showing up, no matter the product. I'll tell you what, that JaMarcus Russell is going to make a good quarterback one day.
ME: Do the Raiders win a game this year?
G.O.A.D.: Yes. They beat the Buffalo Bills on December 21st. A little pre-Christmas miracle. Derek Carr will finally put it all together.
ME: First pick in next years draft seems to be a lock for the Raiders. Who do they draft?
G.O.A.D.: Jameis Winston, quarterback. That kid has a good head on his shoulders... Or they draft a punter.
ME: The Raiders already have a quarterback.
G.O.A.D.: My philosophy is that you can never have too many.
ME: Final thoughts.
G.O.A.D.: I have to go. I have a lunch date with John Madden.
I reach out to shake the man's hand. He proceeds to sit there for the next 20 minutes, talking to me about Marcus Allen, Jeff George, how he thinks Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw are hilarious, and the importance of having receivers that are really, really, really fast.
He eventually leaves, handing me a signed Jim Plunkett football and the parting words, "Once a Raider, always a Raider."
I pause for a moment, realizing one thing: I never did ask him about Willie Gault.
*Willie Gault is currently pursuing a career as an actor. Despite being 54 years old, Gault claims he can beat DeSean Jackson in a race. I believe him.