Quote of the Week I
"Let's go win the game! Let's go win the game!''
Quote of the Week II
"It was definitely a blessing. I never would have changed. I was able to sit back and see what was missing in my life. When I had all the money in the world, I didn't have peace in my life. Now I do.''
Quote of the Week III
"Rich Gannon had been a journeyman quarterback in the NFL for years, and we gave him the opportunity of a lifetime to be our starting quarterback. We're the only team that ever afforded him that opportunity.''
The Raiders have been stung by Gannon's criticisms of the team, among them Gannon saying in a radio interview that the team should blow up the current structure and start over. Now there's a revolutionary concept for the losingest team in football since 2003. Now, it's all well and good for the Raiders to be steamed at an alumnus. But what kills me about this organization, dating to the freeze-out of Marcus Allen, is when a minion makes an important player in team history seem like a practice-squadder. It's needless, insulting and stupidly demeaning.
Say what you want about how Rich Gannon got to the Raiders, or what he's said about the Raiders in retirement, but to imply he was an unimportant or marginal quarterback who was lucky to be employed by such a wonderful organization insults any football fan's intelligence. He and Jon Gruden are by far the two people most responsible for the run of mini-glory the Raiders had at the start of this decade, culminating in a Super Bowl loss in the 2002 season.
Further, I see no credible way to dispute that Gannon is one of the three best Raiders quarterbacks in the first 50 years of the franchise -- unless you think a checkered eight-year run by Jim Plunkett (57 starts, minus-1 touchdown-to-interception differential in the regular season, but very good postseason play) merits placement with Ken Stabler and Daryle Lamonica because he was the winning quarterback in two Super Bowl victories by the Raiders. I'd put Gannon over Plunkett.
Plunkett never played a 16-game regular season for the Raiders. Gannon, in six Raiders seasons, played 16 games four times. In those four seasons, 1999-2002, he averaged 3,947 passing yards per year, completed 63.4 percent, and threw 105 touchdowns with 44 interceptions. The Raiders have had three NFL MVPs -- Stabler in 1974, Marcus Allen in 1985 and Gannon in 2002.
Look, I've got no problem with a team sniping at a critic. Critics are fair game if they're going to step out and take shots. But let's not treat Gannon like Andrew Walter. Not the man who, seven years ago, routed the Steelers at Heinz Field, swept the hated Broncos home and away, got Tuck-Rule revenge against the Patriots and won two lopsided playoff games before playing a lousy Super Bowl. It's silly.
Stat of the Week
Tampa Bay's initial first down of the game against the Giants came at 2:52 p.m. Eastern Time, 111 minutes into the game in real time, 40 minutes into the game on the game clock.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Difference Between Baseball and Football Dept.:
On Wednesday, in Kansas City for a series with the Royals, a group of eight members of the Red Sox traveling party -- including manager Terry Francona and infielder Kevin Youkilis -- spent a couple of hours at the Kansas City Chiefs' offices and training facility, across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium. Francona is close to Chiefs GM Scott Pioli from his days in New England, and Pioli visited Francona in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game. Youkilis and former major-leaguer Sean Casey, now a part-time TV colorman, kept commenting about the pace and fury of the midweek practice. Said coach Todd Haley: "They were very shocked how physical we were and how hard our coaches coached.''
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
I can't emphasize enough -- though I've said it a few times in this column over the years -- how marvelous train travel is up and down the Boston-New York-Washington corridor. I now take the train on Saturday at different times from Back Bay Station in Boston to Penn Station in Manhattan. Because we had no Saturday obligations at NBC this weekend, I took the regular Amtrak train at 4:45 p.m. from Boston to New York, stopping at the Kingstons and New Londons, and when we got into the little train station in Old Saybrook, Conn., just off Long Island Sound, there was a slight sunset struggling to be seen through the cloud cover.
Four placid hours, having a couple of Heineken Lights and banging through some elements of this column. I think you could save 60 or 90 minutes by taking the Delta shuttle, but then you wouldn't see the people walking on the seashore where Rhode Island meets Connecticut in a part of the country not many people know.
Tweet of the Week
"It's interesting how the media views Matt Millen. To fans, it's like Madoff giving out investment advice. He destroyed a franchise.''
I got this started by telling people on Twitter the other day they shouldn't be all excited about Millen being on TV. Before he went down his destructive path with the Lions, he was considered by all to be the heir to John Madden as a pro football analyst.
NFL Truth & Rumors