Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hue Jackson: Mark Davis made decision to fire me

Raiders coach Hue Jackson is understandably upset after getting fired Tuesday.

And while Jackson won’t break out an overhead projector, he wants his side of the story to be told. In a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation with Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Jackson only seems to dig himself a deeper hole.

Jackson believes the decision to fire him came directly from Raiders owner Mark Davis, not new G.M. Reggie McKenzie. (Despite McKenzie’s words to the contrary.)

“It ain’t Reggie,” Hue said of McKenzie. “Me and him get along. The easiest thing to do is to start over and bring in all new people, which is what he’s doing. The hardest thing to do is to say, ‘I’m gonna keep a guy who’s already here and try to build around him.”

Jackson is right. It is hard to build around a coach you didn’t choose. General managers have tried it and it rarely works. You usually end up wasting time for a year like Ted Thompson did in Green Bay and Mike Holmgren did in Cleveland.

It’s especially hard to do when the head coach publicly asks for more power that he doesn’t get. That’s not a situation that lends itself to a harmonious coach-G.M. relationship.

Jackson believes that Mark Davis made the decision to fire him based on a conversation that took place over a week ago. Jackson voiced his concerns about not being involved in the G.M. search before the season-ending loss to the Chargers. Davis rebuffed him.

“I gave him three opportunities to give me a vote of confidence, and he didn’t give me one. He said nothing,” Jackson said.

This is a sign that Mark Davis may have a better idea on how to run the Raiders than Al Davis in his later years. Should a first-time head coach with one average year under his belt really be helping to choose his general manager? It’s backwards.

Davis leaned on former trusted executives and they made a great choice in McKenzie. Jackson got caught in the middle, a talented coach that was the victim of bad timing with the ownership transition and his own choice of words.

The revelation by Jackson that he pushed to be part of the G.M. process before the Chargers game is telling. Even after Davis denied him, Jackson made a clumsy public push for more power. He partly blames emotion.

“We were playing for a championship, for a winning season, for Mr. Davis,” Jackson said in reference to Al’s memory. “We’re playing for the [Palmer] trade, let’s face it. Winning that game would have justified everything.

“I knew what was on the line. I’m not stupid. That’s what was coming out of me at that press conference.”

But it wasn’t only one press conference. With a day to think about what he said, Jackson doubled down. He said he should be involved in the general manager’s search again. He dared Davis.

This alone shows why McKenzie and Davis made the right decision. Jackson was making public, passive aggressive, and borderline hostile statements towards his own boss at a time when Jackson’s job was on the line. It was desperate act by a man that knew he was probably on his way out no matter what he said.

That’s not who you want leading your franchise out of a deeply dysfunctional era.

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

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