Within hours, Nancy Gay dropped a bombshell report that it was none other than head coach Tom Cable who threw the punch. By the end of the Raiders' afternoon practice, Cable was dodging jabs from the media with the old tried and true "It's an internal issue. I'm not going to comment on that."
Cable and the Raiders want this story to disappear. Brett Favre is doing everything he can to help.
But John Clayton reported on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" this morning that NFL Human Resources is investigating the matter and considering penalties. "(NFL) Human Resources is saying 'You can't do things like that'," Clayton said. "We'll see where this ends up."
Hold on, is this story even true? The allegation that Cable cold-cocked and hospitalized defensive assistant Randy Hanson has to be one of the strangest sports stories of the year, even by Oakland Raider standards. But keep in mind that only about ten or eleven people on earth know for sure whether this claim is actually true, and you and I are not on the list.
This thing called "AOL Fanhouse" is not exactly the Wall Street Journal, but Nancy Gay is one of the most respected sports writers in the Bay Area. She's one of the selectors on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee. Not long after her report went live, the allegation that it was Tom Cable who had delivered the roundhouse was corroborated by separate sources of the Chronicle's David White , the NFL Network, and -- for what it's worth -- Warren Sapp. "I made a call up to the Raider organization," Sapp said Monday on the NFL Network, "What I got back? Cable did it."
But if you don't trust Sapp's version of events, all you have to do is change channels. Over on ESPN, both Mark Schlereth and Adam Schefter insist they have reliable accounts that no punches were thrown. Schlereth claims he got this information directly from Tom Cable himself. "This is absolutely ridiculous," Schlereth quotes Cable as telling him, "There is no truth to any of these things."
Mark Schlereth and Tom Cable played alongside one another on the University of Idaho offensive line in the late 1980's, if that affects your view of Mark Schlereth's reporting on anything Tom Cable.
But Mark Schlereth is not the only one out there claiming 100% certain, second-hand knowledge of Tom Cable's innocence in this matter. Former Ravens and Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah says on his Twitter page (and yes, my dignity does die a little every time I type that phrase) that Hanson's jaw was fractured by a simple office cabinet and not an uppercut. His source claims that Hanson and defensive coordinator John Marshall were engaged in a contentious, profanity-laced argument. "Cable took exception and went off on Hanson," Jeremiah tweeted. "Cable flipped Hanson's chair and Hanson hit his face on a cabinet. No punches were thrown."
That story does have a slight "dog ate the homework" feel to it, and it's not direct. It's from "sources", but it's the only detailed account out there.
All these wild, varying accounts from "sources" recalls the the time Joe Bugel blew his top as Raiders coach in 1997. "Who is this 'sawwwces'?," Bugel screamed at a press conference during his spectacular one-year fail as Raiders head coach. "I wanna know who this person 'sawwwwces' is!"
Twelve years later, the NFL Human Resources department may once again be very interested in some Oakland Raiders sources.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who insists there is alcohol on his breath only because his chair was flipped and a gin & tonic just happened to slide down his throat.