…or so Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says in a round-about way. On Monday, Kawakami had a run in with Raiders senior executive John Herrera about the state of Oakland Raiders’ head coach Lane Kiffin and his future employment.
On Tuesday, Kawakami sat down with Deadspin to discuss, among other things, the mental state of Raiders’ owner Al Davis.
Has Davis lost it? Are we talking latter-day Howard Hughes?
Al knows football. But he’s also paranoid; he’s into conspiracy theories about himself. He was that way when he was 40, but even more so now. And the ability to think around that gets harder as he gets older, so that effects his judgment. Also, he used to have people around him who were good at public relations. Guys like Bruce Allen, who were there during the Gruden years. Allen was a real people person and could help Al deal with the outside world. But Bruce is gone now. Al has absolutely no one around him who is good in dealing with people. It’s just Al in the darkness now.
So, what’s the second-strangest thing that has happened to you since you began covering the Raiders?
Do you know the Deng Xiaoping story? That’s the infamous one, I guess. It was at the press conference announcing the hiring of Kiffin. Afterwards I was talking to Al, and remarked that I thought it was a strange hire, given that Kiffin was so young and had no head coaching experience. Al didn’t like that, and said: ‘I’ll bet you don’t even know who Deng Xiaoping was.’ I was like, what? What does that have to do with anything? Al pressed it. ‘Who is Deng Xiaoping?’ So I thought for a minute, and said, ‘Well, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t he the General Secretary of the Chinese government during the Tiananmen Square massacre?’ And Al repiles, ‘But what can you tell me about him other than that? See? You don’t even know anything about your own culture.’ I said, ‘Al, I’m Japanese-American, not Chinese.’ And Al said, ‘Ohh, geez. I bet you’re going to kill me on that now.’ It all happened in front of about 20 reporters, so I didn’t have to.
In the interview, Kawakami notes that the only reason Kiffin still has a job right now is because Davis isn’t prepared for what happens next. Davis wants Kiffin gone, but isn’t prepared to go through the process of finding another coach.
So in other words, things are about status quo at Oakland Raiders’ headquarters.