AFC West: Willie Brown
Here are the AFC West representatives:
Denver: Running back Terrell Davis.
Kansas City: Guard Will Shields
Oakland: Cornerback Willie Brown
San Diego: Center Courtney Hall.
The NFL started the program last year.
That is the position Denver running back Knowshon Moreno is reportedly in. A Denver television station reported that the No. 12 overall pick of the 2009 draft was arrested on drunken driving charges near Denver in his Bentley convertible.
Moreno is rehabilitating a torn ACL he suffered during the season. Denver is expected to bring in a running back either early in the draft or in free agency. Moreno lost his starting job to Willis McGahee last season.
His best chances of having a role in Denver in 2012 is probably as a third-down back.
"We take the incident involving Knowshon Moreno very seriously, and are thoroughly reviewing this matter," the team said in a statement. "Our organization will continue to gather information and closely monitor this issue while the legal process takes its course."
Denver linebacker D.J. Williams and kicker Matt Prater have been arrested for drunk driving in the past.
In other AFC West notes:
Raiders’ legend Willie Brown is not currently listed on the team’s list of coaches.
The Raiders have made their primary coaching additions, but they still have some hires to make.
Denver quarterback Tim Tebow said in a radio interview that he was a Dallas Cowboys’ fan growing up.
It’s a fun idea. I hope these retirees are still fleet-footed. With the possibility of trades, these guys have to be ready to hit the podium at a moment’s notice. Let’s look at who will present each AFC West team:
Denver: Shannon Sharpe
My take: Good thing Denver has two picks in the round. Sharpe has a lot to say.
Kansas City: Willie Lanier
My take: I couldn’t think of a better representative.
Oakland: Willie Brown
My take: Perhaps the Hall of Fame cornerback will be calling the name of the next Oakland CB.
San Diego: Natrone Means
My take: A.J. Smith means business and Natrone will deliver the news.
Denver: John Fox
Dennis Allen, defensive coordinator
Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator
Jeff Rodgers, special teams coordinator
Clancy Barone, tight ends
Keith Burns, assistant special teams
Brian Callahan, quality control/offense
Adam Gase, quarterbacks
Sam Garnes, assistant secondary
Justin Lovett, strength and conditioning assistant
Dave Magazu, offensive line
Ron Milus, secondary
Wayne Nunnely, defensive line
Jay Rodgers, quality control/defense
Greg Saporta, strength and conditioning assistant
Richard Smith, linebackers
Eric Studesville, running backs
Tyke Tolbert, wide receivers
Rich Tuten, strength and conditioning
Kansas City: Todd Haley
Romeo Crennel, defensive coordinator
Bill Muir, offensive coordinator/offensive line
Maurice Carthon, assistant head coach
Richie Anderson, wide receivers
Mike Clark, strength and conditioning
Gary Gibbs, linebackers
Steve Hoffman, special teams
Bernie Parmalee, tight ends
Pat Perles, assistant offensiveBe Line
Anthony Pleasant, defensive Line
Brent Salazar, assistant strength and conditioning
Nick Sirianni, offensive quality control
Otis Smith, defensive quality control
Emmitt Thomas, defensive backs
Adam Zimmer, defensive assistant/assistant linebackers
Jim Zorn, quarterbacks
Oakland: Hue Jackson
Al Saunders, offensive coordinator
Chuck Bresnahan, defensive coordinator
John Fassel, special teams coordinator
Greg Biekert, linebackers
Chuck Bresnahan, defensive coach
Willie Brown, squad development
Adam Henry, tight ends
Sanjay Lal, wide receivers
Brad Roll, strength and conditioning
Kevin Ross, assistant coach, safeties
Kelly Skipper, running backs
Mike Waufle, defensive line
Steve Wisniewski, assistant offensive line
Rod Woodson, assistant coach, cornerbacks
Bob Wylie, offensive line
San Diego: Norv Turner
Clarence Shelmon, offensive coordinator
Greg Manusky, defensive coordinator
Rich Bisaccia, special teams
Cris Dishman, assistant secondary
Steve Gera, coaches assistant
Hal Hunter, offensive line
Jeff Hurd, strength and conditioning
Don Johnson, defensive line
Charlie Joiner, wide receivers
Jason Michael, tight ends
John Pagano, linebackers
John Ramsdell, quarterbacks
Vernon Stephens, assistant strength and conditioning
Mike Sullivan, offensive line
Steve Wilks, assistant head coach-secondary
Greg Williams, assistant linebackers
Ollie Wilson, running backs
Here is the statement:
Oakland’s website also has reaction from Tatum’s secondary mate, Willie Brown. Kudos to the Raiders for a first-class tribute to one of their great former players.
We are deeply saddened by the news of Jack Tatum's passing. Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior.
He was a great player and person and has been a big part of our lives since we drafted him in 1971 as a first round pick out of Ohio State.
Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football.
Our thoughts, prayers and well wishes go out to his wife Denise and family.
Broncos: Champ Bailey, cornerback
Claim to fame: Bailey has been known as one of the premier shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL since coming into the league with Washington in 1999. He’s been named to nine Pro Bowls.
Case for enshrinement: Bailey continues to be a shutdown cornerback. His signature play is an interception in the end zone that he brought back all the way to the goal line in the 2005 playoffs against New England. It was the key play in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s first postseason loss as New England Patriots.
Bailey is a tremendous run-stuffer. Unlike many cornerbacks, Bailey loves to get dirty and he often snuffs out sweep plays. He has said he worked hard to become a good tackler because he rarely gets tested in the air. Bailey is a bright, articulate player who takes his game very seriously. He’s simply an all-timer.
Case against enshrinement: Bailey has said it himself: He needs to get a Super Bowl ring before he seriously can be considered for enshrinement in Canton.
He should be in the clear, but the fact that Bailey hasn’t won a Super Bowl could play against him. The furthest he got was the AFC title game in the 2005 season.
Last run in Denver? Bailey, 32, said he plans to play at least five more years. However, the 2010 season could be his final year in Denver. His seven-year, $63 million contract expires after this season. There haven’t been any serious extension talks. Bailey said he is willing to wait to talk about a new deal and he wants to stay in Denver. However, Bailey will be expensive. If Denver doesn’t re-sign him, expect a contending team to open up the checkbook for this special player.
Will he make it? I think, if he wins a ring or not, Bailey will be enshrined in Canton.
Chiefs: Mike Vrabel, linebacker
Case for enshrinement: Dynasty teams usually send many players to Canton. Vrabel will get a long look. He is a natural leader, which is one of the reasons former New England executive Scott Pioli traded for him the first day he could when he took over in Kansas City last year. Vrabel is essentially a coach on the field.
Vrabel, who turns 35 next month, was a member of Sports Illustrated’s all-decade team for the 2000s. He was part of New England’s 50th anniversary team. Many people in Kansas City think if the Chiefs’ defense turns around this year, it will be because of Vrabel's leadership.
Case against enshrinement: Vrabel may be considered just a complementary player instead of a dominant game-changer. He has made only one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro team. He has one season in his 13-season career with more than 100 tackles. He has only 11 career interceptions.
Don’t forget the offense: In both New England and in Kansas City, Vrabel has been used as a secret weapon. As a tight end in the red zone, Vrabel has nine receiving touchdowns in the regular season. He has two offensive touchdowns in the postseason. He is, by far, the NFL’s defensive leader for offensive scores. That will count for something.
Will he make it? I think Vrabel will have to wait a long time. His lack of dominant numbers will hurt him.
Raiders: Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback
Claim to fame: Asomugha is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He is a true shutdown cornerback.
Case for enshrinement: He shuts down the entire left side of the field. A first-round draft pick from Cal in 2003, Asomugha had a breakout season in 2006 with eight interceptions.
Since then, teams just don’t challenge Asomugha. He has had one interception in each of the past three seasons. Asomugha has made himself a great run-stuffer because he doesn’t get much work in the passing game. He is a bright light for the league as he is involved in many charities.
Case against enshrinement: He might not have a large body of work. Asomugha, 29, had a slow start to his career, so his final numbers might not be great. Asomugha has played in Oakland for seven years. The Raiders have lost at least 11 games in each of those seasons, which is an NFL record. Of course, the tailspin is not Asomugha’s fault. Still, in a league where rings are cherished, he could be dinged for it.
Hall of Fame tutelage: Asomugha has benefited from the coaching of Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Brown, who is known as one of the greatest cornerbacks to play the game. Brown has helped Asomugha throughout his career. The two are very close and often talk strategy.
Chargers: Philip Rivers, quarterback
Claim to fame: He is an elite quarterback. Rivers is in his prime and has gotten better in each of the four seasons he has started.
Case for enshrinement: This is a long-term project. Rivers is 28 and he should have another eight to 10 quality years remaining in his career. But he is on the right track.
Rivers is one of the game’s best players. He has put up huge numbers. He has thrown for 8,263 yards and 62 touchdowns in the past two seasons. He threw only 20 interceptions in that time. If Rivers, who has a high-powered offense to work with, continues to produce at this rate, he will be considered for enshrinement down the road.
He is a proven winner. San Diego is 46-18 in the regular season since Rivers became the starter. He is a natural leader.
Case against enshrinement: If Rivers gets hurt and his career ends prematurely, his Canton push will fall short. He needs to have a long career. He also needs to show he can deliver in the postseason, when it counts most. In 2006 and 2009, the Chargers were upset at home in their first playoff game in seasons in which the Super Bowl was an attainable goal. Rivers needs some signature playoff wins.
2004 draft class: Rivers will always be compared to Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Manning was the No. 1 pick, Rivers was the No. 4 pick and Roethlisberger was the No. 11 pick in the 2004 draft. Of course, Manning and Rivers were the key figures in a draft-day trade between the Giants and the Chargers.
Both Manning and Roethlisberger have something Rivers doesn’t: a Super Bowl ring. Roethlisberger has two rings. If Rivers never gets a Super Bowl ring, this comparison could work against him. Still, Rivers appears to be the safest bet of the three as they all move forward. Rivers is playing great and he is a solid citizen. Manning is inconsistent on the field and Roethlisberger will start the 2010 season suspended because of off-field issues. In the end, Rivers probably will be remembered as the best of the three, but a ring will help.
Will he make it? If Rivers stays healthy, I think he will be a Hall of Famer. He'll retire with huge numbers.
The Raiders didn’t have the titles that Miami, Dallas and Pittsburgh had, but they were a dominant team in the 1970s. If you were going to win the Super Bowl, you probably had to go through the madcap marauders of the East Bay.
Wild, free-spirited and wickedly clutch on the field, the Silver and Black was a special fabric of the NFL in the 1970s. They were always known for close calls, but in the end not having enough to be complete the championship journey.
That all changed in 1976. The Raiders had plenty. They were, by far, the class of the NFL and they have the hardware to prove it.
Led by a stunning group of players, this team had depth on offense and defense. Stabler was the engineer, as he seemingly rolled out of bed and led the Raiders to one last-minute win after another. He had great receivers in Biletnikoff, Branch and Casper. The offensive line was anchored by future Pro Football Hall of Famers Shell and Upshaw.
Defensively, the Raiders were nasty with first-year Raider Matuszak and Sistrunk up front, Hendricks in the middle and Brown and Tatum anchoring the unit.
It was enough for Oakland to nearly go unbeaten. After New England thrashed the Raiders in Week 4, Oakland didn’t lose another game. Oakland went 13-1 in the regular season (despite having a five-game trip spanning Weeks 2-6) and then won home playoff games against New England and Pittsburgh before toying with Minnesota in Super Bowl in XI.
It was a culmination of a great run in Oakland. In the end, this team will be remembered as one of the NFL’s great all-time teams.
Most impressive win: A 32-14 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl XI. The Raiders showed their dominance on offense and defense by completely suffocating the Vikings. It was a fitting day to end a near-perfect season. No one in Oakland will forget the sight of a jubilant Madden being carried off the Rose Bowl field by his victorious Raiders. Davis surely never will.
Crazy start: The Raiders had some memorable battles with Pittsburgh. This special season started with a classic battle between the two 1970s powerhouses in Oakland.
The Steelers led 28-14 with five minutes to go. However, Oakland made a furious comeback to tie the score. Oakland then got the ball back and won it with a short field goal with 18 seconds remaining, sending the home crowd into a wild celebration.
Nothing like beating the hated Steelers on opening day. It set the tone for Oakland’s best season of all time.
1967: The Daryle Lamonica-led Raiders were 13-1 in the regular season before being worn down by Green Bay in Super Bowl II.
1980: The Raiders became the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl. The 11-5 Raiders were led by coach Tom Flores and spunky, resurgent quarterback Jim Plunkett.
1983: The Raiders’ third Super Bowl champion was a dominant unit. Led by a great defense and young running back Marcus Allen (1,014 yards rushing, 11 TDs), this was a special team.
- Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland’s first-round pick in 2009, had three dropped passes in the morning session. His hands were his biggest issue in a disappointing rookie season. At times, Heyward-Bey did look solid on Friday morning.
- Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, who Oakland took with the No. 8 overall pick last week, said he had the team ship him the playbook the day after he was taken. McClain is renowned for his study habits. He said Friday he wants to quickly become a leader in Oakland. Raiders’ fans, you may have something special in this guy.
- Receiver Chaz Schilens was held out as a precaution. He should be fine for OTAs, coach Tom Cable said.
- Fourth-round pick Bruce Campbell has begun the switch from tackle to guard. The Raiders think he can be a top player, Campbell was a combine star. He had an interest comment Friday: “I want to show I’m a football player and not just an athlete.”
- Fellow fourth-round pick, speedy receiver Jacoby Ford, joked that his friends told him he’d be taken by the Raiders after he was timed as the fastest receiver at the combine. Oakland lived up to its reputation.
- Oakland cut fullback Oren O’Neal on Friday.
- Cable was pleased that Friday’s first session was cleaner than the first minicamp practice last year. “We didn’t look like the Keystone Kops,” Cable quipped.
- Veteran running back Michael Bennett is trying out for the team.
- Despite saying earlier this year he was retiring, Oakland great Willie Brown was at the minicamp.
The priority for Russell here is that he gets his teammates on his side. Some clearly weren’t happy with Russell for not showing up Monday. Now that he is with his teammates, Russell can start the long process of winning them over and retaking his starting job.
It doesn’t matter what Russell looks like now. He has to show continued improvement in the minicamps, training camp and preseason before he can prove that he is ready to do what is necessary to be an effective NFL quarterback.
Tuesday’s arrival at the team’s facility is a start.
The National Football Post is reporting that Pendergast is ending his short stint with Oakland to become the defensive coordinator at the nearby University of California. Pendergast was hired less than two weeks ago to work with Oakland’s secondary.
It has been a whirlwind month for Pendergast. First, he was replaced by Romeo Crennel as Kansas City’s defensive coordinator in January. At the time, Kansas City coach Todd Haley said that Pendergast could stay on the staff, but later the team decided to let him go.
His decision to go to Cal clearly shows Pendergast feels it’s more important for his career to remain a defensive coordinator than to stay in the NFL.
Now, Oakland has to scramble to adjust its staff. Pendergast was replacing Willie Brown, who retired. Lionel Washington also coaches the secondary. Oakland can either hire someone to replace Pendergast or simply let Washington handle all of the secondary responsibilities.
I only considered plays from the six Super Bowls AFC West teams won. AFC West teams have participated in 14 of the 43 Super Bowls.
Fill up the comment list on the bottom of the post with your thoughts.
Elway’s helicopter: It was clear Denver was about to win its first Super Bowl when quarterback John Elway performed his “helicopter” move to convert a first down on a third-and-6 run deep in Green Bay territory in Super Bowl XXXII. It was an instant classic and the Packers really had no chance to overcome that desire and emotion.
Brown’s interception: It’s one of my first Super Bowl memories. In Super Bowl XI against Minnesota, Oakland star cornerback Willie Brown returned a Fran Tarkenton interception 75 yards for a touchdown in the Raiders’ dominating win over the Vikings. It stood as an NFL record for 29 years.
Squirek’s interception: Jack Squirek is not a Hall of Fame like Brown, but he goes down in the team's Super Bowl lore. Just before the half of Super Bowl XVII, the linebacker intercepted a Joe Theismann pass deep in Washington territory. Squirek shocked Washington with the five-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a 21-3 lead at the half. The Redskins were done after that play.
Allen’s run: The Raiders put the cherry on top of their 38-9 win over the Redskins with a 74-yard reverse run by Marcus Allen to give the Raiders a 35-9 lead late in the third quarter. It was the signature play of a Hall of Fame career.
Elway to Smith: The Broncos took control of Super Bowl XXXIII against Atlanta with an 80-yard bomb from Elway to receiver Rod Smith late in the second quarter. The play showed Atlanta that Denver was just too talented to tangle with.
Willie Brown, a Hall of Fame cornerback, is retiring from the coaching staff. He pent the last 15 years as a defensive backs assistant. Several Oakland players were close to Brown.
Brown has basically been a fixture in Oakland since he was acquired in a trade from Denver in 1967. Brown was a great Raider. Please join me in wishing him the best in his retirement.
Four AFC West players made the All-Pro first team: Denver: LT Ryan Clady and LB Elvis Dumervil; Oakland: P Shane Lechler; San Diego: K Nate Kaeding. You can’t argue with any of those choices.
Oakland signed return specialist Yamon Figurs to a future contract. The college star has bounced around the NFL the past three seasons. He was a third-round pick of Baltimore’s in 2007.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
DANA POINT, Calif. -- One of the great treats in the NFL is to spend some time with Raiders' owner Al Davis.
But it can be rare. The best time to catch up with Davis is at the annual NFL owners' meeting. Like Davis said Monday: "I love talking football."
Davis was in a jovial mood Monday. For all of the negative things said about Davis, he has always been pleasant and humorous when I've been around him.
Of course, a primary subject Monday was Davis' passion: Raiders greats of yesteryear.
He talked about how he thought Willie Brown was the greatest cornerback ever to play and noted how amazing it was that the highest contract Brown ever received during his playing days, that spanned 1963-78, was about $100,000 a year. In contrast, Davis just re-signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to a $45.3 million, three-year deal making him the richest cornerback in NFL history.
Davis also said he believes former Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett and punter Ray Guy deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
As far today's NFL world, Davis smiled and said he was going to stay away when asked about the Jay Cutler mess in Denver.
|Andy Lyons/Getty Images|
|Through seven games, no team has thrown in Nnamdi Asomugha's direction more than twice.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
His name is Nnamdi Asomugha (pronounced Nam-Dee Aso-MU-Wah).
He is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
Yes, his name is difficult to pronounce. But it is more difficult to hear on a football field. That's because opponents rarely call his number.
They are too afraid.
Amid the circus atmosphere in Oakland that often keeps attention off the field, Asomugha's play is forcing attention back onto the field. He is having another remarkable year, following up a stellar 2007.
Boring, at times, but remarkable all the same. What is happening is that teams are avoiding Asomugha. They are avoiding him like they avoid drafting a cornerback with a 5.2 40-time. No one challenges Asomugha.
They figure it is just not worth it. Through Oakland's first seven games, Asomugha has been thrown at a dozen times. The ball has never been thrown in his direction more than twice a game.
"Why would teams throw at him?" asked Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown, who is now an assistant defensive backs coach with Oakland. "Something bad is likely going to happen if you throw it at Nnamdi. It's an ultimate compliment for a cornerback not to throw at him."
Teams are throwing on Oakland's defense, just not at Asomugha. Newly acquired cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been victimized at times for Oakland, which has the 19th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. But don't blame Asomugha. He just isn't getting any action.
Listening to opposing coaches, it doesn't sound like the Asomugha boycott will end anytime soon. It's doubtful that Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan will take on Asomugha on Sunday when the Falcons visit Oakland. Saints quarterback Drew Brees had his way against Oakland in a 34-3 New Orleans win on Oct. 12. But Asomugha was left alone. Read New Orleans coach Sean Payton's comment about Asomugha prior to that game and it's no surprise Asomugha was ignored by Brees.
"He's the best we have seen on film," Payton said. "He's long-armed, he's real good at bump-and-run coverage, he has good recoverability; he's tall, he has great ball skills and he's very intelligent. He would have been the most sought-after corner had he hit free agency."
Asomugha, 27, admits that he gets frustrated by the lack of action. He said he noticed last season that the word was out on him. Asomugha, Oakland's 2003 first-round pick out of nearby Cal, had eight interceptions in 2006. He had one last season, and he doesn't have any interceptions this season.
That's what happens when no one throws at you.
"It gets a little boring, a little lonely out there," said Asomugha, who presents himself more like a young professor than a shut-down corner. "You keep hoping that someone is going to challenge you."
Asomugha was particularly disappointed about his lack of action after the Raiders' 16-13 overtime win over the New York Jets. Surely, Asomugha reasoned, the great Brett Favre would come after him. Favre, after all, fears nothing. He's never met a cornerback he hasn't gunned on. Interceptions don't worry Favre, the NFL's all-time interception leader.
So what happened? Favre threw in Asomugha's direction twice.
"I really thought this was going to be the day," Asomugha said after the game. "I thought Brett was going to come after me like six or seven times."
Asomugha has taken the lack of passes coming his way as an opportunity to work on other parts of his game. He gets involved in the run support as much as possible. And he knows that his lack of action helps his team because it essentially shuts down half of the field.
"I talk to Willie [Brown] and Charles [Woodson, a former teammate now in Green Bay] about staying involved all the time," Asomugha said. "I'm still on the field. I can still have an impact even if they aren't going to throw at me."
Asomugha might get frustrated by his lack of passes thrown his way, but his coaches love his contributions on defense.
"It's the ultimate respect," Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan recently told reporters in Oakland.
Asomugha attempted to put a happy spin on it. He even tried to say he thinks opposing coaches and quarterbacks will challenge him soon, but he quickly reconsidered it.
"No," he smiled. "Probably not. It probably won't change."