"I've never seen a linebacker as quick as this kid," said Cowboys scouting director Larry Lacewell as he walked off the field that night. Asked to comment on the 5'10", 215-pound Coakley's lack of height, Lacewell said, "We didn't bring him in here to screw in lightbulbs."
Among the best players on the field for the Raiders that night was another rookie—6'5", 320-pound defensive tackle Darrell Russell, whom Oakland took with the second pick in the April draft. Russell, who played at Southern Cal, batted down a pass and racked up two "sacks" (players needed only to touch the quarterback to get a sack).
After practice the next day Raiders defensive line coach Bill Urbanik said of Russell, "He's going to be O.K., I guess." Russell, who was standing next to Urbanik, smiled and shook his head. As soon as the rookie was out of earshot, the coach said, "He's going to be great."
So is Orlando Pace, whom the St. Louis Rams took with the first pick in the draft. The Raiders had traded up from 10th to second in hopes of drafting the gargantuan tackle, who they hoped would shore up an offensive line depleted by the free-agency defection of right guard Kevin Gogan to the San Francisco 49ers. As presently constituted. Oakland's line may have problems protecting its quarterback. However, it's impossible to get team brass to concede that point or even to admit that they wanted Pace in the first place. The Raiders have never seen much of an upside in candor. Bugel prefers blind optimism. He didn't do himself any favors at the press conference in January announcing his hiring. That day Bugel promised to deliver to Oakland not one but multiple Super Bowls.
Super Bowl talk is less outlandish coming from the Cowboys. Aikman says his team has the talent, "barring injuries"—and, of course, recidivism—to win its fourth NFL title in six years. If that happens, the league will be obliged to echo the sentiment already expressed by the good folks at Expose: Welcome back. Cowboys.