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Archive for Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Raiders blaming Callahan for free-fall

November 4, 2003

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— Rod Woodson jokingly offered up the idea of hanging a suggestion box outside Oakland's practice facility for anybody who thinks they can solve the mess the Raiders are in.

The team's other Woodson, four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, is at the center of the turmoil -- the off-field stuff anyway. Twice in five days he publicly criticized second-year coach Bill Callahan, saying Callahan is stubborn and has lost control of his team, and that the Raiders are falling apart.

Monday, Callahan called the comments "inappropriate and inaccurate."

"You never quit playing, because you play for each other," Rod Woodson said in a nearly empty Raiders locker room.

He claims "there is no internal grumbling," but apparently changed his stance upon learning Callahan and Charles Woodson hadn't spoken in a month.

If Oakland hasn't imploded already, the team seems on the brink of major disaster only eight games removed from its Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay. Callahan insists he isn't worried about his job security and that he still has faith in his coaching philosophy and the strength of his staff.

But owner Al Davis certainly isn't going to put up with pathetic play and conflicting egos.

Things became significantly worse Sunday when the Raiders lost, 23-13, at Detroit, losing their backup-turned-starting quarterback in the process. Marques Tuiasosopo partially tore a ligament his left knee while filling in for injured 2002 MVP Rich Gannon, and the Raiders will likely turn to third-stringer Rick Mirer this week to face the New York Jets. They were beat up enough already.

"I mean, we lost one game now to the Detroit Lions, who coach says was an outstanding football team," Rod Woodson said. "So, I guess the Jets are going to be -- whoooo -- they might be going to the Super Bowl."

The Raiders have reached record lows. They are all but out of the playoff race after a 2-6 start, their worst start since beginning 1-6-1 in 1964. They appear to be losing faith in each other and their coaches.

"I'm just the spokesperson," Charles Woodson said after Sunday's setback. "The more you talk to other guys, you'll understand where I'm coming from. I wasn't appointed, but I just felt that it was time."

What made him speak out?

"We're 2-6, how much longer can we wait?" he said.

Some players say Charles Woodson and Callahan desperately need to sit down and talk. There are still eight games to go and if the disorder isn't rectified soon, Woodson might just boil over every Sunday night the rest of the way.

Callahan said he would deal with the situation at the appropriate time, and his office door was always open to players.

"I'm going to continue to just emphasize how I'm going to manage this program," Callahan said.

Other teams know how vulnerable -- and beatable -- these Raiders are, but that they still have potential to salvage their season.

"Oakland still has a great team on paper, but right now they're in trouble," Detroit running back Olandis Gary said Monday. "They've got people talking about their coach in the papers. That's not good.

"But they started off bad last year, and during that time, I remember them kicking us around last year when I was in Denver. They still have a lot of talent, so there's still time for them to have a good year."

Several players have come to Callahan's defense and taken responsibility for the Raiders' ugly performances. But with both Charles and Rod Woodson working as critics, who knows how long it'll be before they all start turning on the man in charge.

"There's a lot going on," Jerry Rice said Monday. "Sometimes you have to address situations and try to resolve it. We're basically behind Bill Callahan."

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