AFC West: Jarvis Moss

The Oakland Raiders need depth, and they just added some to their deepest position. A source confirms Dave Tollefson has agreed to a deal with the Raiders.

Tollefson will not change the Raiders’ defense, but he is a solid player who bolsters the defensive front.

Tollefson is a solid third defensive end who is versatile enough to play tackle and linebacker in some sets. That makes him a perfect rotational fit for new coach Dennis Allen’s plans to use multiple fronts.

The Raiders could use Tollefson since the promising Trevor Scott signed with New England and Jarvis Moss is unsigned and probably not in Oakland’s plans. Tollefson had five sacks last season. He will provide a good pass-rushing burst as a backup. Again, Tollefson is not a premier player, but there is plenty of value in this signing.

He is signing for two years. The Raiders offered Tollefson more guaranteed money than other suitors. Tollefson is a Bay Area native who was on Oakland’s practice squad in 2007.

In other AFC West news:

Chiefs look at Luis Castillo

March, 9, 2012
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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Chiefs have visited with defensive lineman Luis Castillo. He was just cut by the Chargers.

The Chiefs will likely add to the defensive line in free agency and I wouldn’t be shocked if they added Castillo for depth. He has been a solid starter, but has been injury prone. The Chargers would like to re-sign Castillo at a reduced price.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Colts would be open to trading pass-rusher Dwight Freeney. The only possible fit in the AFC West is San Diego. The Chargers badly wants a pass-rusher and Freeney could be intriguing. They were interested in his teammate, Robert Mathis, before he re-signed with the Colts this week. If Freeney is fairly reasonably priced, I could see the Chargers showing interest.

In other AFC West news:

As expected, the Raiders announced quarterback Carson Palmer restructured his contract to help the team with its salary-cap situation.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Raiders aren’t expected to bring back free agents Jarvis Moss and Samson Satele. Moss is a bottom-of-the-roster type and the fact that Satele is not in the team’s plans could mean Stefen Wisniewski will play center. He was supposed to play there last year, but played guard instead and excelled there.

The Broncos are looking for a safety in free agency, but the pickings are slim.

The Chiefs have added Steven Smith as assistant offensive line coach. He was with Tennessee State last season.

Matt Williamson looks at the top 50 free agents Insider available. KC Joyner looks at the best values Insider in free agency and there is an AFC West flavor to it. Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. thinks Insider San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson is the biggest free-agent risk available. Still, I think plenty of teams will line up to take that risk.

Yahoo Sports is reporting Tennessee free-agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan is recruiting Jackson to go to the same team he does. The report speculates that team may be Tampa Bay. St. Louis could also be a possibility.
The San Diego Chargers got good injury news when running back Ryan Mathews practiced fully for the first time this week with a knee injury. He is probable to play Sunday against the Denver Broncos. San Diego linebacker Shaun Philips is listed as questionable to play Sunday. He has been out for several weeks with a foot injury. He is expected to play in passing situations Sunday.

As expected, receiver Malcom Floyd (hip) and tackle Marcus McNeill (neck) have been ruled out of the game. Guard Louis Vasquez (ankle) and key backup Tyronne Green (hand) are doubtful. Denver doesn’t have any major injury concerns.

For the Oakland Raiders, receiver Jacoby Ford (foot), running back Darren McFadden (foot) and defensive end Jarvis Moss (hamstring) have been ruled out of Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears. All three were expected to be out.

Oakland has several players who are questionable to play, including receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (neck), defensive lineman Richard Seymour (knee), receiver Denarius Moore (foot), safety Michael Huff (ankle), defensive end Lamarr Houston (knee) and running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring). The Oakland Tribune reports that Heyward-Bey has a better chance to play than Moore.

Evening AFC West notes

November, 4, 2011
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Key Kansas City Chiefs reserve cornerback Javier Arenas was limited Friday by an ankle injury that did not keep him out of any work earlier in the week. Arenas, a top return man, is questionable to play Sunday against the visiting Miami Dolphins.

Chiefs safety Jon McGraw missed the entire practice week with a shoulder injury and he is doubtful to play Sunday. He was hurt Monday playing against the San Diego Chargers. Meanwhile, McGraw was named the team’s recipient of the Ed Block Courage award. Every NFL team honors one player each season.

Other AFC West news:

ESPN columnist Ashley Fox believes Carson Palmer will help the Oakland Raiders. He makes his first start for the team Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Check out Jarvis Moss' thoughts on former college teammate Tim Tebow.

Oh, and take a look at Shannon Sharpe's thoughts on Tebow as well.

Matt Shaughnessy out for year

October, 19, 2011
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There have been indications over the past couple of weeks that Oakland defensive end Matt Shaughnessy could be out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Raiders made the news official Wednesday when they put Shaughnessy on the injured reserve to make room for newly-acquired quarterback Carson Palmer.

Shaugnhessy has been out for the past three games and Oakland coach Hue Jackson recently indicated that he could be out for the long haul. The third-year end makes a lot of plays and still has a strong future. The Raiders are deep on the defensive line, though. Desmond Bryant, Trevor Scott and Jarvis Moss will all continue to work in the rotation to replace Shaughnessy.

In other AFC West nuggets Wednesday:

Denver 2010 first-round pick Demaryius Thomas admits he's worried that his rash of injuries could lead to him being a bust and being cut. The oft-injured, but talented, Thomas may make his 2011 debut Sunday at Miami.

The Chiefs are trying to find out about what kind if offense it truly has.

The Broncos lost practice-squad receiver Eron Riley to the Jets’ 53-man roster. Denver signed D’Andre Goodwin to the practice squad to replace him. He is a rookie from Washington.

In this Insider piece, Insider Adam Schefter writes the Raiders can win the AFC West.

Jackson talks about the Palmer trade in a radio interview.

Denver coach John Fox talks in a radio interview about starting the Tim Tebow era.

Oakland running back Darren McFadden remains on ESPN’s MVP Watch.

Denver linebacker Von Miller remains on top of ESPN’s Rookie Watch.

Schefter reports cornerback Lito Sheppard visited the Raiders on Tuesday. He was with the team for a short time in the summer.

Raiders have key injuries

October, 16, 2011
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OAKLAND -- The Raiders are playing without defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, cornerback Chris Johnson, fullback Marcel Reece and special-teams ace Rock Cartwright.

Manase Tonga will start for Reece, rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke will play for Johnson. Jarvis Moss will start for Shaughnessy. Receiver Louis Murphy is active. It will be his first game since he suffered a sports hernia in training camp.

Rookie quarterback Terrelle Pryor is still listed as a roster exemption after his five-game NFL suspension ended. The Raiders will likely activate him Monday.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights from ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown," in which the 3-2 Raiders were a topic:

Tom Jackson: “I’m buying ‘em because they are built in the image of Al Davis.”

Merril Hoge: “The Raiders didn’t get the memo -- that this is a passing league. They didn’t get that memo because they run the football on the perimeter better than anybody.”

Bill Parcells: “If they could cut down a little on that recklessness, cut those penalties down, they’re going to go right to the top of that discipline index, and that usually means winning.”

Aaron Curry not an instant answer

October, 12, 2011
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When a team can get a top-five pick for a minimal cost less than three years after he entered the NFL, it’s a deal worth doing .
However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Oakland Raiders’ defensive issues are solved by the acquisition of Aaron Curry. He will get a chance to compete for playing time and he will be given a chance to resurrect his career, but, by no means is Curry currently considered a top-notch player.

But if the Raiders can get the best out of Curry, it will be a good deal for the team down the road.

Essentially, this is a low-risk endeavor for a team that has long taken on players such as Curry. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 by Seattle. He lost his starting job this year.

Curry is physically imposing player at 260 pounds. But he didn’t show strong instincts and his toughness has been questioned. He has been a disappointing pass-rusher.

Still, he may benefit from a change of scenery. The Raiders have long been a willing taker of wayward first-round picks. Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive end Jarvis Moss are players who have found varying forms of success in Oakland after struggling as first-round picks elsewhere.

Now, Curry has a chance for his own Oakland revival. Just don’t expect the No. 4 overall pick in the draft to show up.

Key players out in Oakland

October, 2, 2011
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OAKLAND –- The Raiders will be without three key players Sunday against New England.

Safety Michael Huff (concussion), defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and fullback Marcel Reece (ankle) are all inactive. They were all listed as questionable on the injury report Friday.

Trevor Scott and Jarvis Moss will likely help spell Shaughnessy. Mike Mitchell could play for Huff as the Raiders try to slow down New England quarterback Tom Brady.

As expected, receiver/returner Jacoby Ford is active. He ha missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

New England is also dealing with injuries. Tight end Araron Hernandez (knee), defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back) and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) are all out.

Seymour leads one of NFL's top D-lines

September, 30, 2011
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Richard SeymourThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesRichard Seymour and his defensive linemates will welcome his old team to Oakland this Sunday.

Bill Belichick created this dilemma.

Now, the New England Patriots’ coach must find a way to overcome one of the NFL’s better defensive fronts on Sunday in Oakland, which will be one of the NFL’s showcase games of Week 4. The catalyst of Oakland’s defensive line -- a ferocious combination of power, speed, experience and zestful youth -- is a man Belichick said goodbye to two years ago. Belichick stunned the NFL, Richard Seymour included, by shipping him to Oakland a week before the 2009 season started. Belichick had a knack for knowing when to pull the plug on veterans over the years in New England. Seymour has been the exception.

Yes, there are reasons for the Patriots to feel good about the trade. They’ve made the playoffs both years without Seymour, they saved a lot of money (Seymour was re-signed to a lucrative deal by the Raiders prior to the lockout) and they got a promising left tackle in Nate Solder with the No. 17 overall pick in April as compensation from Oakland. Still, that won’t help the Patriots on Sunday in a critical early-season game for the two 2-1 teams. Seymour and his explosive defensive line mates will be coming after New England quarterback Tom Brady all game.

The Patriots know it.

“That’s a good question,” said New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien this week when asked how he is going to prepare for the former New England star defensive lineman and his new mates. “That’s a tough question. These guys are really big up front. They’re a physical defense, they’re fast. Again, that’s part of our discussion right now of all the different areas of their defense and how we’re going to handle some of the problems all over the place that they present -- challenges that they present. So, there are a lot of different things you can do -- I’m certainly not going to tell you, but [Seymour is] playing really well. They’re all playing really well right now; it’s a really good football team that’s playing fast and physical.”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Jarvis Moss
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesJarvis Moss had two sacks for Oakland in last week's surprising win against the Jets.
There is no denying Oakland’s attitude, talent and success up front starts with Seymour. Eyebrows were raised when Oakland traded for Seymour two years ago. The three-time Super Bowl winner would have been better-suited for a playoff contender. It has taken a couple of years, but the Raiders are now playoff contenders with Seymour spearheading the line.

“He’s obviously a leader for that defensive line,” Brady said at his press briefing Wednesday. “When he gets going, they all get going.”

The Seymour trade immediately improved massive defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. It allowed him to disrupt the middle. The Raiders continued to build with youth around Seymour. They added feisty, underrated pass-rusher Matt Shaughnessy in the 2009 draft and the versatile Lamarr Houston in the second round last year to round out the starting front four. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said Houston greatly benefits from playing next to Seymour; they are similar because both are able to play each position along the line.

The line also has strong depth. Add massive run-stuffer John Henderson, young defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, pass-rusher Trevor Scott and former Denver first-round flameout Jarvis Moss (he had two sacks in an upset win over the Jets last week), and the Raiders have a steady stream of talent on their first line of defense.

"I've been around some teams with six guys, maybe seven," Raiders coach Hue Jackson told reporters recently. "To have eight, that is kind of unbelievable."

Scott has said the line is like a “tag-team match.” This unit just keeps coming against the pass and the run. Oakland is tied for fourth in the NFL with 10 sacks in three games, but is still having trouble stopping the run. It is allowing 120 yards per game. Still, opponents know the best way to get success against Oakland defensively is get the game past the front four.

“The front four are very strong penetrators,” Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said this month. “They really get after you and create. They try to disrupt the running game by penetrating and they try to create pass rush by penetration.”

Williamson said he thinks the Raiders have a top-10 defensive line that continues to get better. He said the trade for Seymour was the beginning of the dominance.

“The beauty of Seymour is that he is good at everything. He is a great interior pass-rusher on throwing downs,” Williamson said. “He can be an excellent defensive end in either the 4-3 or the 3-4, and he still is a great 3-technique for the 4-3. So when he is on the field, you don’t know exactly what front you are going to get, and he can shift effectively right before the snap to further confuse matters ... by all accounts, Seymour is a great locker-room guy and leader.”

Seymour will surely like to remind his former coach about all of those attributes that Oakland is benefiting from Sunday.

One player to watch

September, 29, 2011
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One player from each AFC West team to watch in Week 4:

Denver: Von Miller, linebacker: The rookie has played very well in his first three NFL games. He had a sack in each of the past two games and the No. 2 overall draft pick is a big reason this unit is much improved from last season. Let’s see if he can get to Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

Kansas City: Derrick Johnson, linebacker: This is a good player. He has to find a way to help the Chiefs end their funk and beat visiting Minnesota on Sunday. He has to do this by making plays. Johnson dropped several interceptions last year. He did it again Sunday in San Diego at a critical point in the game. Johnson has to start making a difference.

Oakland: Jarvis Moss, defensive end: Is Moss ready to become a legitimate NFL player? He had two sacks against the Jets on Sunday. I’m sure that thrills Broncos fans. He was a colossal draft bust. Denver took him with the No. 17 overall pick in 2007. He had 3.5 sacks in three-plus seasons in Denver before the Broncos gave up on him. Now he appears to be part of a potent rotation in Oakland.

San Diego: Philip Rivers, quarterback: It will be interesting to see how Rivers reacts to being questioned about his play. It hasn’t happened often. Rivers has been good, but he has already thrown six interceptions. His highest interception total in a season is 15. Will Rivers fix his turnover issues Sunday against Miami or will it continue? It’s a major storyline in San Diego.
It’s not exactly the onslaught, but there is movement in the AFC West.
  • The San Diego Union Tribune reports the Chargers signed right tackle Jeromey Clary for four years, $20 million. Clary was a target of the Chargers, who have plenty of cap room. The Chargers have several free agents and are working on keeping targets Eric Weddle and Kevin Burnett. Clary is an underrated part of a strong offensive line. Keeping him means continuity for a strong offensive line.
  • In Kansas City, center Casey Wiegmann reportedly has signed for one year. This has been expected. His agent Joe Linta, told me last week that Wiegmann, 38, wanted to play one more year in Kansas City. The Chiefs have long wanted him back. Wiegmann is an anchor to a strong offensive line. He is a leader on and off the field. Wiegmann will groom second-round pick Rodney Hudson, who can also play guard.
  • The Raiders brought back former Denver first-round pick Jarvis Moss. He is strictly a backup. The Raiders have plenty of high-profile free agents, but keeping Moss is just for depth reasons.
  • Meanwhile, keep an eye on Seattle free agent Brandon Mebane in Denver. If the Seahawks don’t re-sign him, he could fit with the Broncos.
  • I continue to hear linebacker Nick Barnett would love to play in San Diego. I’m sure the Chargers would have interest in him at inside linebacker. Barnett has been told by Green Bay he’ll either be cut or traded soon.
  • Oakland guard Cooper Carlisle was at the Raiders’ facility Tuesday. There has been reports that he could be cut as Oakland tries to get under the salary cap. Oakland has been working on contract restructuring to get under the salary cap.
  • Ohio State has made a decision that could help Terrelle Pryor get a spot in the supplemental draft. There had been questions whether or not he’d be eligible. Pryor has been connected to Oakland.
  • San Diego also brought back tight end Randy McMichael for one year. He is a favorite of head coach Norv Turner. McMichael is a solid backup receiver and an underrated blocker. He is good insurance if starter Antonio Gates has another injury-filled season. McMichael, 32, had 20 catches for the Chargers in 2010.
  • Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson said the Broncos were in on him before he re-upped with the Panthers. Johnson played for Broncos coach John Fox in Carolina. I hear the Broncos are clearing cap room and want to be players for key defenders.
  • Kansas City backup receiver Terrence Cooper reportedly is coming back to the team. I don’t think that will keep the Chiefs from looking for more receiver help.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 17, 2011
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.

Denver Broncos

Best choice: Elvis Dumervil, defensive end/linebacker.The Broncos have had an uneven drafting history in the past five years. Many of Denver’s better picks are no longer with the team. Dumervil was a safe choice. He has been a very productive player since Denver took him the fourth round in 2006. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009. He missed all of last season with a pectoral injury. But he is considered a cornerstone of Denver’s defense as it begins the John Fox era.

Worst choice: Alphonso Smith, cornerback. There are a lot of candidates here, but I had to go with Smith. He edged out 2007 No. 17 overall pick Jarvis Moss, who was cut last season. Smith is the choice because he lasted one season in Denver and he cost the Broncos the No. 14 overall pick in 2010. Former Denver coach Josh McDaniels fell for Smith when he dropped to the second round in 2009. McDaniels, running his first NFL draft, traded the team’s first-round pick in 2010 to take Smith. He was replaced four times as a rookie, including by an undrafted rookie. Denver finally dumped him off to Detroit on the final cut-down day last year.

On the bubble: Knowshon Moreno, running back. There are a few choices here, but Moreno has to make immediate strides. The No. 12 overall pick in 2009 has had a slow start to his career. He’s had his moments, but he’s been plagued by injuries and an overall lack of productivity. If he doesn’t progress in 2011, the Broncos may have to make other plans at tailback.

Kansas City Chiefs

Best choice: Jamaal Charles, running back. Charles was a wonderful parting gift from the Carl Peterson era. He was part of Peterson’s final draft in Kansas City and was he a doozy. He was taken in the third round, with the No. 73 overall pick in 2008. The pick was acquired from Minnesota in the Jared Allen trade. Charles has developed into one of the best running backs in the NFL. He is a big reason why the Chiefs were a worst-to-first story in 2010.

Worst choice: Turk McBride, defensive lineman. The Chiefs haven’t had many overtly horrible picks in the past five years. I’m going with McBride because he was a second-round pick, No. 54 overall, in 2007. The defensive lineman spent his second season on the injured reserve and was cut in 2009.

On the bubble: Tyson Jackson, defensive end. Jackson had potential to make Kansas City fans forget about McBride. The defensive end was the No. 3 overall pick in 2009. He hasn’t done much in two seasons. Still, the Chiefs are hopeful that the earnest Jackson will develop into a good player. He will have time to prove himself, but he will be watched closely.

Oakland Raiders

Best choice: Zach Miller, tight end. The Raiders’ 2007 draft will always be remembered for the colossal JaMarcus Russell mistake. But the Raiders did find a gem with their very next pick. They took Miller in the second round with the No. 38 overall choice. Miller has developed into one of the better young tight ends in the NFL. He is a top offensive weapon.

Worst choice: JaMarcus Russell, quarterback. I didn’t have to do much debating on this one. Russell is considered by many league observers to be the worst draft pick of all time. He never improved and the Raiders gave up on him last spring at the age of 24. Russell is still out of the league.

On the bubble: Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver. The No. 7 overall pick in 2009 needs to start producing on a consistent basis and he needs to show he can catch the ball. If not, Heyward-Bey will fall further behind Oakland’s other, more productive young receivers. Heyward-Bey has only 35 catches in 26 NFL games.

San Diego Chargers

Best choice: Marcus McNeill, left tackle. The Chargers have some solid picks in the past five years, but I’m going to go with McNeill. He is not an elite left tackle, but he is a very solid player who is a strong anchor to the offensive line. He is the long-term answer for San Diego at a key spot. San Diego is getting a lot of value for the No. 50 overall pick in 2006.

Worst choice: Buster Davis, wide receiver. The Chargers haven’t whiffed badly on a lot of picks in the past five years. But it looks as if Davis may not ever pan out as a Charger. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2007, No. 30 overall. His biggest issue has been staying healthy. He finally showed some promise last year, but he missed the final nine games with an injury. He has played only 26 games in four seasons.

On the bubble: Larry English, linebacker. English is the fourth 2009 first-round pick to make this list. Like the other three players, it’s time for English to show he can help his team. The Chargers took the Northern Illinois linebacker at No. 16 because of his high motor and ability to rush the passer. English, who already is 25, has only five sacks in two NFL seasons. He missed eight games because of injury in 2010. The Chargers probably will draft a pass-rusher in the first round, so English will have to fight for playing time in 2011.

Would ex-Jets fit in the AFC West?

February, 28, 2011
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The New York Jets are releasing four big-name players. Let’s take a look at if any of these players would fit in the AFC West:

Defensive end Vernon Gholston: I think Gholston will be considered by most NFL teams. Yes, he’s been a colossal draft bust and you have to worry about a player who couldn't develop under the guidance of the Jets' great defensive tutoring. But he’ll be cheap and any player who is 24 and three years removed from being the No. 6 overall pick in the draft will get another chance. I wouldn’t be surprised if any team in the division looked at him. If I had to guess the team most apt to pursue Gholston, I’d say Oakland. Al Davis loves former first-round picks. Any team that would take a chance on Jarvis Moss should take a chance on Gholston.

Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins: We can probably rule out a reunion with former Carolina coach John Fox in Denver. The two were reportedly not on good terms when Jenkins was traded to the Jets. The Chiefs are interested in Shaun Rogers, so it’s conceivable to think they could look at Jenkins, too. I know the Chiefs want to add more than one defensive tackle. San Diego also could potentially take a look. Still, there are injury issues. I don’t think Jenkins would be a high-priority signing in either city.

Defensive end Jason Taylor: Taylor is expected to retire. Even if he does play, I don’t see a fit. He’s been available a couple of times in the recent past and there hasn’t been much interest from AFC West teams.

Tackle Damien Woody: He is 33 and has injury concerns. Woody, who previously was a center/guard, was in New England with Kansas City general manager Scott Poili. I could see potential interest there. Denver and Oakland could also use a right tackle. Woody is a good player if healthy. He is like Jenkins. There could be interest, but I don’t think it would come quickly.

Evening AFC West notes

December, 15, 2010
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Former Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson told New England reporters that he still believes Tom Brady fumbled when he hit him in the 2001 playoffs. The result, of course, was the “Tuck Rule” and the start of a dynasty in New England and the beginning of years of bitterness in Oakland.

Be careful, Oakland fans. I’m sure the memories are enough to fire you up all over again, nearly nine years later.

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