There's a strategy emerging from the Oakland Raiders organization for dealing with the fallout from CableBumaye-gate.
Simultaneously, an innocent-sounding, punch-free version of events is being back-channeled to Raider-friendly media personalities. This strategy may or may not help Cable squeeze out of the human resources briar patch he's stuck in when the league investigation comes down.
Cable himself won't comment, but NFL reporters whom Coach Cable trusts enough to give scoops to have all told a very consistent version of events. All emphasize that "no punches were thrown". And they all use those exact words.
Cable's 1984-86 University of Idaho offensive line teammate Mark Schlereth said on ESPN that he had talked to Cable, and that, "He basically told me, 'No punches were thown'." On that same segment, analyst Adam Schefter repeated that his sources had told him precisely the same thing. Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that he'd been told, "Cable flipped (Raider assistant coach Randy) Hanson's chair and Hanson hit his face on a cabinet. No punches were thrown."
So if that version of events is true, and that's a bigger "if" than some web browsers can handle the font size for, then this is all just the case of a chair being pulled during a heated conversation. Would the NFL really discipline one of it's head coaches for simply tugging on another fellow's chair?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is forever blowing off my requests for cocktails and some face time on this matter, so I turned to San Francisco Examiner legal analyst Melissa Griffin. "The act of Cable pulling the chair, even if nothing fell on Hanson, is simple assault and battery," Ms. Griffin said. "Intentionally touching an object in an angry way that causes that object to touch another person is battery. Simple assault and battery results in a fine and/or up to six months in jail." She added that even if no punches were thrown, Cable could be charged with assault, battery, and aggravated battery.
But Randy Hanson hasn't pressed charges, and it's been, like, two weeks! So Cable is cool, right?
"Despite the fact that Hansen is refusing to press charges now," Ms. Griffin points out, "He can still sue in civil court for damages related to his personal injuries. The statute of limitations on that in California is two years."
Two years?!? That's a long time to have an NFL head coach's short and curlies in the palm of your hand.
There's an emerging concensus among media and fans that Raiders owner Al Davis is 100-percent in Tom Cable's corner on this. Don't be so sure.
Right after the story broke Monday, Jerry McDonald noted an important little detail on his Oakland Tribune Raider blog .
Randy Hanson is likely to be deposed in the ongoing Lane Kiffin salary arbitration dispute. Hanson is Davis' star witness to Kiffin's alleged insubordination. And Al Davis would rather donate his three Super Bowl trophies to Mike Shanahan's favorite charity than to lose that arbitration case to little Lane Kiffin, who is still the current reigning arch-enemy in the Al Davis universe.
To just repeat "It's an internal issue" is not necessarily an evasive or underhanded strategy on Coach Cable's part. Whenever anyone is accused of anything, whether they're innocent or guilty, they are counseled to say as little as possible. There's a League investigation on. It's just a smart legal strategy, in case of unexpected developments. (Not that I would know! I'm pretty sure that soliciting charge was all just a case of identity theft.)
It can be aggravating to deal with all these non-football issues when here it is finally the exhibition season and we should be talking football issues. But if the Raiders face an unprecedented suspension of their head coach, or even criminal or civil charges, then this becomes a 270-pound angry biker-looking guy of a football issue.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who suggests that Randy Hanson settle this matter like a man. By asking for a "consultant" position where he works from a home office in Kauai.