Shroud of secrecy on minicamp


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Jan 22, 2006
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Shroud of secrecy on minicamp
Raiders bar media from team's first sessions under Shell
Column by Jerry McDonald

THE OAKLAND RAIDERS are engaging in covert operations at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway.
It's extremely sensitive material, with security clearance granted only to a chosen few who wear silver and black and know the secret passwords that have something to do with the greatness of a certain organization and a commitment to something far beyond 13-35 over the past three years.

Curious about what the Raiders are up to in the Art Shell era?

Get lost.

The Raiders are far too busy with on-field instruction to bother with something as unimportant as giving their fans an idea how things are going and why members of Raider Nation would consider plunking down their hard-earned money for a season ticket in the post-PSL era.

Many veterans have assembled for a predraft minicamp, an extra session of practices allowed to teams that have hired new coaches.

It will have to be left up to the imagination to determine who showed up and who didn't, because this minicamp is a closed shop. No media access, no interviews and, therefore, no distractions.

So in the next few days, you won't be reading some of the following stories:

-Quarterback conundrum — Is it Aaron Brooks, Marques Tuiasosopo or Andrew Walter? The salary scale says Brooks, Shell says it's an open competition.

When Brooks was signed, the Raiders never even bothered to set up a conference call, a common occurrence even among the most media-shy teams when it comes to a man who could (or should) be the starting quarterback.

-The other Walsh — offensive coordinator Tom Walsh — may never speak to the media, given the Raiders' position in recent years on the issue of allowing grown men who aren't the head coach to speak for themselves.

Still, it would be nice to know what the quarterbacks and receivers think of the man who is supposed to put a charge into an anemic attack.

-Sapp update — defensive tackle Warren Sapp was having a nice comeback season before he suffered a torn rotator cuff in a win over Washington.

The Raiders lost their last six games, and while at least one person who would know is saying Sapp is doing fine, it's always more entertaining hearing it from the man himself.

-Maryland's biggest fan — running back LaMont Jordan was conspicuous in his support of Maryland's run to the NCAA championship in women's basketball. Nice notebook item, and does Jordan think he could use a second ball carrier to help with the load?

-Gallery and Co. — exactly what does the offensive line think of having Shell and assistant line coach Jackie Slater — both Hall of Famers — as tutors, and what are the Raiders planning, from left to right?

-Randy Moss ... oh never mind. Based on last year's season of silence, the Bay Area media are to blame for all his P.R. problems, although it's hard to remember exactly when Bryant Gumbel worked locally.

Even by Raiders standards, the minicamp media blockade is extreme.

The only people who have talked to Shell at length since the day he was hired had to go to the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., to do it. Because there were no current players other than Kirk Morrison at the press conference announcing his hiring, only a few Raiders contacted by phone have been available to talk about Shell's return to football.

The cone of silence comes after a nicely done press conference the day Shell was hired and then an earnest, well-prepared presentation of the team's new ticket policy by CEO Amy Trask not long afterward.

Tickets, by the way, which might sell at a greater rate should the team make any effort at all to keep itself in the public eye.

For every fan who will respond with an e-mail chastising any position that holds the Raiders and the great Al Davis accountable for anything, five more arrive with simple, logical questions about what's going on with the team.

It's not as if the Raiders are picking favorites, either. Their own Web site has nothing about what's going on in their own minicamp, choosing instead to highlight the "life-changing experience" that goes with being named to the 2006 Raiderettes.

It wouldn't have been difficult to make at least a few players available to talk about what's going on.

They're perfectly capable of saying "no comment" when the mood suits them and are probably smart enough to separate the prying of the dreaded media from learning a new system under a new coach.

Oh, well. At least they're playing into the whole "mystique" angle by being so guarded and secretive.

If the Raiders haven't figured out a way to approach .500, it will be interesting to see how many tickets that sells.

Even by Raiders standards, the minicamp media blockade is extreme.
Really? It's business as usual for the Raiders. I talked with several long-time shop owners in El Segundo (where the Raiders trained when they were in L.A.) and they all said they were happy when the Raiders left. The players, the coaches, the staff, and management, were ALL distant and quiet, and even seemed surly. The Lakers and Kings, who train in El Segundo now that they are at Staples Center, are much more friendly.

Take it for what it's worth, but that's what people who saw/see these athletes on a daily basis thought.
Are you saying the Raiders are a bunch of snobs?? ;)
Angel said:
Are you saying the Raiders are a bunch of snobs??
Nah, it's a bunker mentality. I don't personally like it. I don't think the organization should impose restrictions like this.

During the season I can understand the us-versus-them mentality. It can even create a sense of urgency and teamwork. However, 24-7 all year is going to stress a person to the point of breaking (ask Barrett Robbins).

I think the organization should approach the media with a wink and smile mentality.

Media jerk (or joe public): How's Warren Sapp's shoulder rehab?
Raider insider (player, front office, etc.): He's doing all his work, but I don't know what he's complaining about, I can't feel it? ;)

Media jerk (or joe public): How's the team responding to the new coaches, and Art in particular?
Raider insider (player, front office, etc.): When they say jump, the players jump, only the kids ask "How high?". ;)

Media jerk (or joe public): How knowledgeable is Tom Walsh?
Raider insider (player, front office, etc.): Do you know what's on page 115 of the playbook? Neither do I, but he knows what's on all of them. Pretty smart huh? ;)

Media jerk (or joe public): I heard two guys got in a fight during practice today. What happened?
Raider insider (player, front office, etc.): Isn't that stupid? I mean, how important is the last latte mochiatto, really? What I couldn't believe was how many guys took sides. It was almost world war 3. ;)

In the end, you told them the same nothing, but you sent them away laughing.
hey Bones........ What Mystique?? :p

Lmao Rupert......that was great....and I agree....just placate the worthless masses!! :)
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