Al Davis, who used to be a genius, is in danger of becoming pro football's Dorian Gray.
The aging Davis, who rarely gives interviews, turned up on NBC-TV on Sunday talking as if he were in a time capsule. He was repeating all those cliches about the "greatness of the Raiders" being in the future.
Well, it certainly hasn't been in the recent past. They've won 1 playoff game in the past 7 years. And today he's starting Todd Marinovich -- yes, Art Shell is the coach, but Al makes these kinds of decisions -- in the playoffs in his second (yes, second) pro football start.
The Raiders have nothing to lose, because Davis finally figured out Jay Schroeder's not going to get them to the Super Bowl. Joe Gibbs, of course, figured that out 4 years ago -- before Davis gave up pro football's best offensive lineman, Jim Lachey, and a bunch of draft choices for Schroeder.
If Davis wanted to gamble on Marinovich in the playoffs, he should have let him play a few games earlier in the season to get some experience.
Oh, yes, Davis also said the media are partly at fault because the NFL has only 1 black coach. Huh? Al, since when have the club owners started consulting the media on coaching choices? Al, for a genius, you're not making much sense.
Incidentally, the point of this exercise (that's a phrase I picked up from Tom Clancy) is to have some fun and prove the NFL is too unpredictable to bet real money on. But the NFL must have been too predictable this year. Unless I go 1-10 in the playoffs, I'll actually finish above .500 this year against the spread. Should we call "Ripley's Believe it or Not?"
Chiefs (-5 1/2 ) 21, Raiders 10 -- What a duel -- Steve DeBerg vs. Todd Marinovich? Isn't DeBerg almost old enough to be Marinovich's father?
Saints (-6 1/2 ) 24, Falcons 14 -- Jerry Glanville, who likes to listen to music before his games, will hear the fat lady sing today.
Last week's record: 6-6. Against the spread: 6-6. Best bets: 1-3.
Regular-season record: 154-70. Against the spread: 113-104-7. Best bets: 34-32-2.