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Tony Wade

The raiders need to stop acting like goofy gophers

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I was trying to think of what Sunday’s Raiders game against the Arizona Cute ‘Lil Birdies reminded me of. With muffed punts and boneheaded penalties, the Cardinals kept trying to give the Raiders the game and the Raiders simply refused to take it. It ate at me until I finally figured it out what it triggered in the deep recesses of my memory: the Goofy Gophers, Mac and Tosh.
Their names probably aren’t that familiar (I had to Google them), but those who grew up watching Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons will no doubt recall two gophers who resembled Walt Disney’s Chip and Dale who were extraordinarily polite and overly deferential to each other. If you substituted the Cards and Raiders for Mac and Tosh a conversation would go something like this:

CARDINALS: Please take the win.

RAIDERS: Oh no! I simply couldn’t! Please, you take it!

CARDINALS: Oh no; I wouldn’t hear of it!

RAIDERS: Come, come, I really must insist!

CARDINALS: Oh…well...alright. You truly are much too kind!

RAIDERS: As are you!

BOTH: Indubitably!

When you bookend a game with special teams blunders you usually don’t emerge victorious. Watching the Cardinals return the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown stung. What stung worse was watching the Raiders last line of defense, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, whiffing on the tackle after doing a hopeless waddling sprint that looked like a pregnant penguin that suddenly discovered their egg is rolling downhill.

I appreciate that Jano gave it a little effort, but it would probably have been more efficient if he just took off his helmet, flung it at the runner’s feet and hoped he tripped on it.

Of course, the Raiders didn’t draft Janikowski 10 years ago to tackle people; he’s there to kick field goals.


The two relatively short kicks (41 and 32 yards) Sea Bass missed were out of character and I can choose to get angry about it or congratulate him on a near-flawless impression of North Mexico Charger kicker Nate Kaeding in last season’s playoffs.

In fairness to Sea Bass, he has been clutch for the Raiders year in and year out and sometimes you just have a bad day. Also, a 32-yard field goal sounds easy, but when you think about kicking a ball ninety-six feet between two goal posts, well, I doubt I could do it.

Perhaps if I imagined the ball was ex-Broncos-now-Redskins head coach Mike Shanarat’s head I could get the distance, but I would have no idea where it would go.

Kickers have always been on the fringe in football. I have been to the Raiders training camp a few times and I always trip that while the rest of the team is going through different drills, the kickers are basically just doing what I’m doing there—kinda standing around and watching.

During punt return drills sometimes punter Shane Lechler doesn’t even kick at all. He just pretends to and they use one of those machines with two spinning wheels that shoots footballs up in the air for the returners to field.

By the way, I once had an awesome dream that I built an extra jumbo sized one of those machines and launched Chiefs fans through it.

Football games are rarely decided by just one play. Quarterback Bruuuuuce Gradkowski took a delay of game penalty which pushed the Raiders back from the 1 yard line. Settling for three points (or no points) once we were in scoring position didn’t help. Plus our red zone defense, which inexplicably changed from shut down man-to-man to creampuff zone and allowed Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald to catch the go-ahead TD, left me scratching my head.

It was excruciating to watch the Raiders squander a game they could so easily have won. I used to get really angry when my team let me down but now I realize it is just a game and in the grand scheme of things how important is it really? I have to go now and send another anonymous death threat to Sea Bass.


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