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News » Rivalry back in Raider Nation

Rivalry back in Raider Nation

Rivalry back in Raider Nation
ALAMEDA Those who know Lane Kiffin don't doubt his ability to sell recruits on attending the University of Tennessee, the rumored destination for the coach fired by Raiders managing general partner Al Davis almost two months ago.

Kiffin's selling skills sold Davis on him being the best candidate for the Raiders' coaching vacancy 22 months ago. In the end, Davis said he and the fans were "conned" by Kiffin.

Downplaying rivalries was one of Kiffin's favorite acts. He went to great lengths to persuade people that a Raiders- Kansas City Chiefs game carried no more significance, say, than a Raiders- Houston Texans game. Interim coach Tom Cable resides at the opposite end of the spectrum.

"The AFC West has always kind of had its thing," Cable said. "In that way, we're unique."

Kiffin despised such talk, saying he risked a letdown by his players in games against nondivisional foes if he placed too much emphasis on games against the Chiefs, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers .

Time and again, he scoffed at the mere suggestion of playing up a game against a divisional opponent.

"I don't understand that," Kiffin said of a game against the Chargers, his last as the Raiders coach, Sept. 28. "I don't understand how you prepare different. Do you try harder, or do you put in better plays because you're playing a division team than you do another team?

"Then, all of a sudden, you get your team up for that game, and then you go the following week and you get your team up to play the Saints. How do you get them up for that?"

Nonsense, Cable said. It's incumbent upon the coach and veteran players to instill in players the importance of such games.

"I love it," Cable said. "You have to approach it that way. Anything that's in your own division is just a little bit more special. If you're ever going to get to the point where you can win your division and kind of be the king of your division, if you will, you have to make it really, really personal. That's what it is."

Cable called upon defensive backs coach Willie Brown to address the team before last Sunday's game in Denver and pass on some nuggets about the tradition that dates to 1960 and includes 97 regular-season games.

Cable said he has something in store for this Sunday's home game against the Chiefs, though he isn't tipping his hand just yet.

Veteran players used to stoke the fires of a team's rivalry games. However, the frequent turnover brought about by free agency the past 15 years or so has weakened the allegiance of players to a particular team and lessened the enmity between once-bitter rivals.

That's where Cable comes in, he said. He grew up a Raiders fan and still bears the scars from wounds inflicted by the likes of Rob Lytle, Otis Taylor and Dan Fouts.

"It's our responsibility to get some rebirth into that legacy, into that tradition," Cable said. "It's good because you sign your players, you don't have them for a long time anymore, but the ones you do have, it certainly will carry over for next year's crew."

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards is in his second year around the rivalry. He said he also makes a conscious effort of playing up games against divisional foes, especially because his roster is full of young players.

"When you have a young team, sometimes they lose track of that," Edwards said. "But they have to understand that they are always going to play the teams in your division a bunch. So, they have to understand that, and that's kind of important."

Meanwhile, Kiffin reportedly is on his way to Knoxville, where he can begin selling Tennessee players, boosters and alumni on the similarity of games against Florida and Ole Miss.

Notes: The NFL has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Ad Council in launching a series of television public service advertisements aimed at fighting childhood obesity through physical activity. Raiders running back Darren McFadden will be featured in TV spots shown in the Bay Area and at home games. "... Marquis Cooper, Sam Williams, Louis Rankin, Mauricio Lopez and Derrick Gray volunteered at a local food bank Tuesday. "... Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will receive the President's Volunteer Service Award before Sunday's game for his work encouraging children to take steps to remain healthy.

Contact Steve Corkran at scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

Michael Allan Name: Michael Allan
Position: TE
Age: 24
Experience: 1 years
College: Whitworth
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