As we see in this exclusive clip from the Oakland Raiders on NFL NOW, Sparano gathered his 0-4 team around a hole in the turf -- a shovel in one hand, a football in the other. We'll let Tony take it from here:
"What this ball represents and what this hole represents are the first four games of the season, the first quarter of our season," Sparano said before dropping the ball into the hole. "Here's your shovel, here's your tool and those four games are over with. And we're about ready to go to work here. Everybody understand that?"
They did. A swarm of players and coaches took turns shoveling and kicking dirt over the ball, burying the demons from their winless September with it. That's the hope, anyway.
Yes, this has been done before. Bill Belichick might have been the first coach to "bury the ball" after a New England Patriots loss early in their 2001 Super Bowl season. Rex Ryan pulled the same stunt after Belichick's Patriots whipped the New York Jets on national television in December 2010. That Jets team went on to beat the Pats in the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship Game.
Playing January football is probably out of the question for this Raiders outfit. But if an interim coach can't dabble in heavy-handed symbolism, what can he do?