Davis: Lawsuits against ex-coach Cable put strain on Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis rarely talks to the media anymore.

So when Davis had the chance at a news conference announcing Hue Jackson's hiring as his new head coach Tuesday, he took the opportunity to address a number of issues.

Davis spent a larger portion of a more than 100-minute news conference explaining why he fined former coach Tom Cable $120,000 in the final year of his contract. Davis said he withheld the money from Cable's last six checks because of the strain placed on the organization from lawsuits involving the coach allegedly assaulting a former assistant coach and a former girlfriend.

The suit filed by former assistant coach Randy Hanson was kicked out of court and sent to an NFL arbitrator. Davis said Cable recently settled the suit with former girlfriend Marie Lutz.

"That lawsuit created a tremendous amount of work, stress and turmoil," Davis said. "Tom had been told earlier in his career that he could have been fired without pay for the wrath he brought on the Raider organization."

Cable's agent didn't immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Cable, who Tuesday was hired by the Seattle Seahawksas their offensive line coach, has filed a grievance with the NFL to recover the lost wages.

Davis said Cable lied to him when asked if there were any issues in his past that could affect the Raiders. Davis also was angered by one aspect of Lutz's lawsuit that said Cable brought her on road trips with the team, with the owner saying it goes against his way of living and the Raider way.

Davis said that although Cable was accused of breaking Hanson's jaw in August 2009, accused of assaulting three women later that year and sued by Lutz last June, he kept him on to coach the 2010 season.

"We had been in turmoil for about a year or two after the initial stuff came out, and so I just didn't think we needed another uproar at this particular time," Davis said. "Two roads. You can choose Road A or Road B, either way."

Cable has acknowledged striking his first wife, Sandy Cable, with an open hand. Cable said the altercation happened more than 20 years ago and was the only time he has ever inappropriately touched a woman. Because that happened before Cable joined the NFL, he wasn't punished by the league.

Davis said he still doesn't know what happened in the hotel room at training camp when Hanson's jaw was broken. Hanson accused Cable of throwing him against the wall, causing the left side of Hanson's face to strike a table, then hit Hanson while he was on the floor. Hanson was treated for a fractured jaw and broken teeth. Hanson said Cable was restrained by assistants John Marshall, Willie Brown and Lionel Washington.

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Davis said he didn't want to get into the middle of the dispute.

"Can't get the story," Davis said. "You know, it's like Gitmo. Trying to find out, did they waterboard those guys or not? No, really. It's hard to believe. How many guys went in? Four guys went into the room with a guy, the guy comes out with a broken jaw, and no one saw it."

On other topics in Davis' first news conference in more than 16 months:

» Davis took some blame for the Raiders' struggles the past eight years when they have failed to post a winning record. "I have made mistakes. Yes, there's no question about it, and you got to have great players. But you also, sometimes, have the players and don't get it done. So, you're saying, should I take some of the blame? I certainly do."

» Davis said the team was hurt by the failures of former No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who was cut last May after being paid more than $39 million for three ineffective seasons. "We had a big investment in this guy. Basically, he's a good person, but he's got personal problems, and I decided that it was time that we were not going to fight it anymore."

» Davis said he wasn't pleased with Cable's proclamation that "we're not losers anymore" after the Raiders won the season finale to finish 8-8. "If that's not being a loser in our world, I don't know what it is, come in .500. That's never been my goal."

» Davis explained why he still believes in wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who caught just 37 passes in his first two seasons. "Explosion. He can catch, he's getting better, and he's a good guy. He's going to be good."

» Davis said he wouldn't know whether or not Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would be brought back after the final year of his contract was voided, but he hinted the Raiders would have cut him instead of picking up an option that was set to be worth at least $16.8 million. "Can that $17 million bring you two or three quality players to help you win?"

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» Davis also said he wasn't surprised he won a grievance hearing against former coach Lane Kiffin, who was seeking more than $300,000, after being fired for cause in September 2008. "I beat him because he lied. He's a liar. He lied to you guys."

» Davis said the team needed a new stadium -- preferably at the same site as the current home -- and was hurt by low revenues. The Raiders sold out only one game this season, but Davis hopes a new labor deal will help Oakland's cause. "We don't have the resources that other teams have, but, but, I think we've shown that we can compete. It's a question now of winning and doing better than them. But it depends on what happens in the collective bargaining agreement."

» Davis wouldn't give an opinion on a proposed 18-game season that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants in the new collective bargaining agreement, but he said talk of increased injuries was overplayed. "There's no question that the ownership wants it, and Roger seems to have a way of getting things done if he wants it. So I'd rather not say what I think, but I think the business of injury is overplayed."

» Davis said he wasn't worried about recent criticisms from Shane Lechler, who was upset the team let Cable go, pointing out that the Pro Bowl punter talked about leaving as a free agent after the 2008 season. "Shane said publicly he wasn't coming back, he didn't like it here. A month later, he was coming back because I gave him the highest-paid contract of a specialist in pro football. No, these things happen, that's a part of our lives, I read about marriage breakups, all those things."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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