SI Vault
Blacked Out
Rick Reilly
February 03, 2003
DEARLY BELOVED, we are gathered here to bury the Oakland Raiders. Rest In Pieces.
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February 03, 2003

Blacked Out

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Robbins's teammates were torqued. "I ain't welcoming him back," said guard Frank Middleton. "I thought we had a bond on the offensive line. I thought we lived and died for each other. And then he goes and does that? Man, that's like spitting in our faces."

In 1996 the 320-pound Robbins was found staggering around a Denver hotel the night before a game against the Broncos. He was hospitalized and was said to be suffering from a chemical imbalance complicated by the flu.

On Sunday night Raiders guard Mo Collins was asked whether he would have more compassion for Robbins if he knew that Robbins was suffering from an illness. "Like what?" Collins answered. "Bad tequila?"

Once the game started, things got worse for Davis's beloved Raiders. They got schooled by Jon Gruden, the coach Davis had sold to Tampa Bay for $8 million and four draft picks last February. Looks like Davis got rooked. Gruden so outcoached his replacement, Bill Callahan, that it seemed as if Gruden was calling plays for both teams.

"We'd come to the line and we'd audible," said Oakland fullback Jon Ritchie. "Then you'd see their linebackers all taming to each other, going, '93 Willie! 93 Willie!' It's like they knew what it was."

This made the evening longer than Kiwanis Poetry Night for Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, 37. After 15 years of waiting for his golden moment, he went out and delivered an absolute Glitter—five interceptions. Gannon threw for five touchdowns: three to the Bucs and two to the Raiders. Oakland would've been better off if he hadn't thrown at all.

As Gannon was packing his bag after the game, he forlornly reached into a blue cardboard box lunch the team had packed for the players, flipped a packet of plain potato chips and a cookie into the bag, and zipped it up. "Dinner," he said. Right then he didn't particularly look like the 2002 NFL MVP.

Life seemed just as Siberian for Tim Brown, 36, who also waited 15 years to get to this game, only to catch one pass, for nine yards. "We couldn't have beaten the worst team in the league tonight," he groused.

Lincoln Kennedy, 31, the freezer-sized Pro Bowl tackle, was morose. "I'm never watching films of this game," he said. "I don't particularly want to watch us peeing down our leg."

There was one happy face nearby—in the Qualcomm Stadium jail, where the lone prisoner, 21-year-old Richard Craig, sat grinning. During the halftime show he had sprinted to an open area of the field in nothing but a black Victoria's Secret bra, thong and these words painted large on his chest: RAIDER NATION SUCKS!

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