As a matter of course, the Oakland Raiders flatly refuse to confirm or deny rumors. They let them smolder and smoke until something happens. This is the “Raider Way.” However, it has to take a certain toll on the people who make up the organization.
The Raiders chamber of secrets spent nearly a year emitting various rumors that there were issues between owner Al Davis and then head coach Lane Kiffin. During this time, the focus was away from the needed aspects of building a team. Instead, the owner and the head coach were locked in a high stakes game of chicken that culminated in his firing by the light of the overhead projector and the dawn of the Tom Cable era.
The Lane Kiffin-Al Davis saga is an extreme example of the Raiders code of silence run amok, however the same concept repeated itself to a lesser extent when there were numerous reports swirling that Tom Cable was on his way out the door, only for no such thing to happen. The pattern repeated itself in a slightly different form with rumors all through the offseason that Nnamdi Asomugha was set to be traded to a couple of different locations or the rumors that the Raiders were hot and heavy after Donovan McNabb.
These rumors spread like wildfire, and it is impossible for the Raiders to extinguish, but the major ones should be shot down from time to time for the sake of the team. It can’t be easy for an acknowledged team leader like Asomugha to hear rumors all offseason that he is going to be shipped out. After a while, the sense that he is not wanted would have to start creeping into his head, and if it does, then it has the potential to reflect in his attendance and OTAs and other voluntary workouts.
The potential effect of the McNabb rumors on the quarterbacks is likely less dramatic. It is hard for Russell to scale back his already weak work ethic. Bruce Gradkowski is in a position where he still has everything to prove, if not to the Raiders, then to other potential suitors since he is operating on a one year tender.
The ones that the Raiders need to worry most about having a positive image for are the potential free agents they would like to bring in, as well as the draftees. One thing that players want is stability, and the Raiders give off the vibe that they are as stable as the San Andreas Fault.
It is not that the Raiders, or any other organization for that matter, need to be standing at the ready to answer each and every odd ball rumor that is floated on a message board. It would be wise to occasionally come to the support of their own players and staff.