It would be awfully comforting to be able say, "That Al Davis, what a ridiculous boss! I hope he loses!"
Or else, "That Lane Kiffin, what a ridiculous coach! I hope he loses!"
But the two appear to be trying to out-ridiculous one another in some form of "silly behavior death match", and it's difficult to tell which party is in the right. Or more accurately, which party is less grievously in the wrong.
These grievance proceedings relate to a specific sum of $2.6 million, the unpaid "guaranteed money" balance on Lane Kiffin's eighty-sixed Raider coaching contract. You'll recall that Kiffin was fired four games into last season, and you'll recall that an overhead projector was utilized to better explain the firing. We do NOT use PowerPoint in Raider Nation.
Kiffin has vowed to fight for the unpaid balance, and has submitted a grievance to the NFL to set that process in motion. That process technically began this week, with Kiffin and Davis separately giving depositions on the matter. Or not so separately -- Kiffin showed up for Al Davis' deposition! Kiffin is not exactly Randy Johnson, so it is unlikely Davis was intimidated by this maneuver. Perhaps Kiffin simply meant to repeat one of his Tennessee recruiting gags, by swiping someone else's cell phone and impersonating that individual via a text message. E.g., "U please send that check 4 lane. OKthxbye".
Both sides are under a gag order on this matter, but that hasn't inhibited the theatrics. On Friday, Davis' lawyers leaked a threatening letter to the media -- a threatening letter that they had written themselves. This letter to Kiffin's new employers at Tennessee repeatedly accuses Kiffin of "insubordination" and refers to the Raiders' "greatness" -- though no actual examples of either phenomena are cited. The letter has no real thesis or conclusion, and simply serves to make Davis' legal team seem more bizarre and unhinged.
Most attorneys would not engage in sending out letters that portray their client as delusional lunatics. But most attorneys don't work for Al Davis.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has the "Al Davis With Overhead Projector" picture above as the screen saver on his computer.