Oakland Raiders linebacker Greg Ellis admits his team is the "laughingstock of the NFL."
Oakland Raiders fans are used to calls of disrespect from other teams' fans, from the referees, from the league, and from anybody in the national sports media not nicknamed "J.T. The Brick." But we've traced the latest calls of disrespect, and the calls are coming from inside the house.
The Raiders' own sack leader and best player on defense Greg Ellis verified the latest torrent of Raiders criticism in remarks to the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday. "The mood we're going to be in or should be in, right now we're kind of the laughingstock of the NFL," Ellis said.
At least he said "kind of."
"This isn't anything new," Ellis continued. "Teams have been that way before. New England wasn't always winning Super Bowls and Dallas wasn't always the team they are. So, it goes in cycles. When you're in that down cycle, you got to fight and claw to get back out of it and that's what we're doing here right now in Oakland."
Ellis is one of the few Raiders performing above expectations this season, and this may be how he's establishing himself as a team leader. Recall that Ellis criticized his teammates in the preseason too, rather bluntly saying, "Guys, you can't stay out all night. Can't expect to come in here and just turn it on."
Ellis' remarks aren't flattering to the Raiders football organization, but they are constructive criticism. Ellis isn't some Randy Moss or Derrick Burgess kind of character, trying to crybaby his way into getting traded to the Patriots. He's pulling some Mike Singletary tough love Jedi mind tricks here, impugning his teammates' dignity and trying to get them angry enough to play harder.
He's got a point. When a team is a 14-point underdog at home, they probably do need to play harder.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is kind of a laughingstock whenever he takes his shirt off.