Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Raiders GM, A Lions GM, and a Knicks GM walk into a bar...

Once these people were at the top of their respective games.

Al Davis was Jerry Jones long before Jerry Jones was even a blip on the NFL radar. The maverick owner of the Raiders liked to cultivate his outsider's personae, often flipping a metaphorical finger at collectively bargained NFL deals.

The difference was that Davis was a football guy rather than a businessman like Jones.

He wasn't just any football guy, either. He was, once, highly respected both as a coach and a talent evaluator. After working his way up through the college ranks, he took over a Raiders franchise that had only nine wins in its first 42 games. That translates to a pitiful winning percentage of .214.

In Davis' first year at the helm the team went 10-4 and was unanimously voted AFL Coach of the Year for his efforts. In three seasons as a coach he put together a respectable 23-16-3 record, an increase of .333 over the team's previous winning percentage.

For roughly two decades (ending 1985), the Raiders, under Davis, won the division 13 times, and have for Championship rings (one AFL, three Super Bowls). Like him or hate him, he was once one of the foremost football minds in the NFL.

Matt Millen, picked in the second round of the 1980 draft by the aforementioned Davis, was among the best inside linebackers during a 12 year career in the 1980's and early '90's, mostly with the Oakland Raiders. He made the Pro-Bowl once (1988), was a two-time All-Pro('84, '85), and walked away from the game with four Super Bowl rings. Of the 180 games that he appeared in, he started 166. Not quite Hall of Fame, but it was good enough for people to remember who he was years after he retired.

From 1981 until his retirement in 1994, Isiah Thomas was one of the best point guards in the business. The leader of the Detroit Pistons, Thomas was as good as they come, being named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The point guard was an integral piece to the puzzle in Detroit, making the All-Star Game 12 straight years while donning two championship rings and being named MVP of the Championship Series in 1990. Among his other honors is Olympic Gold and enshrinement in the NBA Hall of Fame.

Pundits speak of him as being part of a Golden Age of basketball, along with peers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Larry Bird.

Now, all three of these people are both joke and punchline.

While Matt Millen might finally be showing some signs of growth as a general manager, a hint of learning, he now owns a record that no football insider believes will ever be approached - he has more seasons of double digit losses than any GM in the history of the sport.

The reason it's believed that Millen will always have that dubious honor? None of the insiders around the sport believe that anyone else can last this long without getting fired.

Since Millen's hiring, the Lions have compiled a 31-81 record, worst in the NFL. Last season was the team's best showing with him selecting the players and coaches. They won seven games. Previous to last season, his teams averaged a paltry four wins per season.

Since the Raiders loss in the 2002 Super Bowl to the Buccaneers, Davis has played musical coaches and made questionable player moves...at best.

The amazing thing about Davis' personnel moves is that they were questionable when he made them. With the exception of the acquisition of Randy Moss, there were virtually no moves that Davis made that weren't followed by the phrase, "what's he thinking, giving that guy that sort of contract?"

And he appears to have done it again, committing an obscene amount of money...the money you spend on difference makers, on middle of the road sort of talent - has beens and never will be's.

The result? Nineteen wins over the last five seasons. Less than four per season.

Thomas? Since coming to New York, he's been an absolute train wreck of an executive.

Twenty years after being presented the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, Thomas was found guilty of sexual harassment, and did nothing to help his image with his testimony in the case, and subsequent comments to the press. During the course of the trial, it was also testified that Thomas made racist comments on more than one occasion in regards to white people.

He has finished with 42 or fewer wins in five of his six full seasons as a coach, and has put together a brutally bad Knicks team with the highest payroll in the NBA. That team has gone a combined 52-100, with only 19 of the wins coming this season. They are on a pace for 22 wins and 60 losses. Only Miami is on pace for fewer wins in the East.

If the entire NBA finishes on the current pace, that will be the highest payroll in the league with fourth worst record, and average of only 27.5 wins per season for Thomas as GM and coach.

While a joke, even a pitiful punchline to fans of other teams around the respective leagues, these guys have been nothing more than nightmares to fans of the Raiders, Lions, and Knicks.

1 comment:

Lord said...
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