ESPN’s Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed NFL’s week 5 action, and discussed the death and impact of longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, on Sunday NFL Countdown with Suzy Kolber, analysts Merril Hoge and Bill Parcells, and NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. Some excerpts:
Remembering Al Davis:
Bill Parcells: “I was still playing college football and I met him (Al Davis) in 1963 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was the coach of the team. It was one of these games that you got paid $600 if you won the game and $400 if you lost. During the course of the week, I was able to spend time with him in the lobby of the hotel at night talking football. He was kind of surprised that I was interested in learning what he knew at that age. Unfortunately, during the week, I broke my hand in three places on a Wednesday. Of course there are no replacements available in those all-star games. So he said – ‘Are you going to play or not?’ I said, ‘Yea, I’m going to play.’ Strangely enough, after the game, he came up to me and he handed me an extra $200 and he said, ‘Thanks a lot.’ That was the beginning of a 48 year friendship that existed until this week.”
… more Parcells: “My first year as a head coach with the Giants. My job was in question, it was being threatened. Job security wasn’t good. He was able to give me a perspective of the general manager and the owner that I, as a young coach, didn’t have. The advice he gave me, and I’ve passed this on to countless numbers of people in this profession, ‘Just do your job. It is the only thing that you can control. Just do your job.’”
Tom Jackson: “When I finished playing professional football, one of my first assignments the next year as training camp started was to go to Raiders camp and cover it. I get out there, and the night before, about 11 o’clock, I get a call from the Raider organization saying, ‘You can’t come out here and cover the team tomorrow.’ And I was like ‘Why?’ They go, because Al (Davis) is not comfortable with you seeing the Raiders practice having been a Denver Bronco for so long.
“I decided to take the camera crew out there anyway. The next day, I’m literally sitting on the curb with the camera crew and Al comes through and he calls me over and he goes, ‘Come on over son.’ He put his arm around me and he goes, ‘I don’t want you to feel real bad. You’ve just been a Bronco for 14 years. I’m just not comfortable with you seeing a Raiders practice.’
“I said, ‘Al, I will never take information from the Raiders and take it back to the Denver Broncos. It will ruin my career in TV.’
“He goes, ‘Well, if you were a Raider and you had a chance to see a Bronco practice and find out some things. I’d expect you to come back and tell me everything you know.’
ESPN’s Steve Young: “Passion for football was different with Al Davis than other people in the league. You thought, ‘Oh, everyone has passion.’ He had it, kind of heightened, in a bigger way. So whenever you’re around him, I’d run into him in the stadiums, on the field, or when we played him, you just had a sense that he loved football more than anybody else. That’s what I’ll miss, that guy you can point to and say – ‘That man loves the game and has proven it over many many years.’”
Al Davis’ Legacy:
Mike Ditka: “His greatest legacy, to me, is the loyalty of his former players to that organization – what they think about what he created.
Jackson: “His legacy to me is tied to the history of the NFL. That’s what it is. When you look at him as AFL commissioner, when you look at the league merging, when you look at the game the way it is today. That really is his true legacy.
“When I was in Denver, and I was his enemy, it was his loyalty to the Raiders. He loved that football team, in every way. He bled silver and black.”
Parcells: “I spent countless of thousands of hours with this man, either at the combine, or the owners’ meetings and Super Bowls, or when he’d come to New York City, he’d call me, I’ll go to New York and see him, visit with him at the hotel, walk around with him.
“For all of those of us who really aspire to be anything in this business, this was a great mentor because he could give me a perspective on just about every aspect of the game I couldn’t get anywhere else. He acted in an advisory capacity for me for 48 years. I want to tell you he was truly a remarkable human being. I really had a strong personal affection for this man.”
Chris Berman: “He’s like a rare newspaper editor … He’s the guy that did every job in the football business.
“I just want to share this because I don’t have the time that you do. It was about this time last year … I got about four messages on every phone possible – ‘Mr. Davis is looking for you.’ That’s odd. Al Davis calling me, for what? He wanted to thank me and our network personally for the way we handled the passing of George Blanda. We had a beautiful 20-minute conversation – that was him.”
Parcells: “He was a caring guy Chris, he really was.”
Jackson: “I want to share this because it’s important to me. With all the things that happened between me and the Raiders … One of the times he (Davis) was inducting one of his Raiders and we were at the Canton airport getting ready to take off.
“We started a conversation. He looked at me and he said, ‘You know, you’d have made a good Raider.’ Even though there’s all that animosity between myself and that organization, and you bleed your colors back then, that just meant a lot to me coming from him.”
On Rex Ryan’s promise the Jets will return to run-first offense:
Cris Carter: “The most alarming thing, I think we’re missing it, is that they had three veteran receivers who went to the coach and complained about the offense. All those wide receivers, when they came to the Jets, they knew this is a defense oriented team … I don’t know what they’re complaining about. That can be an issue.
“As for (quarterback) Mark Sanchez, Rex opened up the offense the first four weeks of the season because of him … The team is not good throwing the ball. They have to go back to the run. So, Sanchez can’t have a great deal of confidence now that they’re going bad.”
Reaction to Brett Favre’s comments on Aaron Rodgers:
Jackson: “It sounds like someone who is attempting to diminish the success not only that Aaron is having by saying he was left a cast of good characters. He learned to play by watching me play and I’m surprised that he didn’t have this kind of success sooner.”
Keyshawn Johnson: “Do you know how hard it is to get to a playoff game? Just to get to a playoff game, they went and won the prize. Brett Favre is jealous. He is jealous and worried about his legacy.”
Ditka: “…The shadow knows what evil lurks in the mind of old quarterbacks.”
Berman: “Brett talks and he’s so open that sometimes he goes way beyond where he needs to go.”
Carter: “He should leave Aaron Rodgers alone. All of our words carry weight.
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