While the team continued to prepare for the Chargers and the front office declared they were “delighted” with their first five picks in this year’s draft, a story telling of the misadventures of a new football team appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle by staff writer Bruce Lee.
Painting the Raiders administrative staff as painfully unprepared for the task and thoroughly disorganized, the story was told mostly in a series of anecdotes. Team owners, most of whom had made their fortunes in construction, tried to apply the lessons learned there to the football field with cost-cutting a primary goal. Assistant coaches who were told to work from 9 to 5 with no overtime quickly learned that their bosses had no idea how they did their jobs and took their positions on handshake deals rather than signed contracts.
Road trips were even more interesting. Chet Soda, the acting traveling secretary as well as general manager did not always travel with the team. On the team’s recent three-game eastern swing, the players and staff went to Boston after the Titans game while the coaching staff and some of the owners stayed in New York. As a result, there was no planning oversight and the team had to practice in a different facility each day. No locker rooms were available, so the players had to dress at the hotel before practice and shower there afterward. Jack Fadden, a Harvard University trainer involved with the process, said, “I’ve been thirty years in athletics, but I’ve never seen anything like this outfit.”
Earlier in the season, when in Houston for the Oilers game, the team stayed at a hotel far out of town and the coaching staff at one point had to hitchhike to town to attend a banquet. A number of additional stories were told that reinforced the overall sense of farce.
The players had learned to take a philosophical approach. “We grumbled at first,” said Tom Louderback. “Then Erdelatz told us, ‘Quit griping. Laugh at whatever happens. Laugh if you wind up on the floor of the YMCA in a sleeping bag. We’ll all get along better.” It was a measure of the team’s respect for their coach that they largely did just that.
Cue Don Manoukian: “If this club had a training table, we’d be served mashed potato sandwiches and marshmallows.”
Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle