With Atlanta in the rearview, Hall trying to move on in Oakland

Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall can hold a grudge. Ask Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. Throw former coach Bobby Petrino and much of the Falcons' organization that drafted him, nurtured him and tolerated him for four years in that group, too.

Then there is, or was, Samuel Hall, the man who gave him life and his last name.

DeAngelo could never completely run or hide or talk down or get away from Samuel Hall as much as he tried for most of his 24 years. Hall and his father weren't close, but Samuel was around. Both lived in the Chesapeake, Va., area, where someone always seems to know someone who knows you. There was no falling out or blow up before or after his mother and father divorced years ago that caused the distance between Hall and his dad. DeAngelo and Samuel never established enough of a relationship to get that far.

Age: 24

Height: 5-10  Weight: 195

College: Virginia Tech

Experience: 5th season

In fact, the two-time Pro Bowler never spoke of him.

Until now.

Now that he's gone.

Samuel Hall died Aug. 24, the same day DeAngelo said he awoke to wish his mother, Joan Hall, a happy birthday. The irony of the timing wasn't lost on the emotional cornerback, who flew from Northern California to his native Virginia soil in the Tidewater region to visit his ailing father before Samuel, 65, took his last breath after infection and illness borne out of a car accident.

"I didn't have a great relationship with my dad," Hall said. "He came to some of my games as a kid, but he hadn't been to Atlanta or any of my games as a professional. It wasn't all him. It was probably a little of both of us. He just wasn't around. It wasn't like some people's parents, where the dad comes around when they make it to the NFL. It wasn't like that at all. Matter of fact, when I got to the NFL, that pushed him farther away. He wasn't like everyone else who came around when the money came."

Hall paused: "This was closure for me."

He went on: "Even though me and him didn't see eye-to-eye and weren't on the same page didn't mean I didn't love him, that I didn't have more time to patch things up and get it right. But time ran out."

Hall, who wears his emotions louder and more in the open than most, wasn't openly fazed as he discussed his father's passing. That's how Hall is, though. When you expect him to cry, he offers you comfort. A seemingly certain outburst can actually result in deep, thoughtful dialogue. He can also blow in a million different directions, which is why Atlanta traded him to Oakland last spring, despite his 17 interceptions, 228 tackles and gifts as one of the NFL's better cornerbacks.

Hall said he doesn't know how he's going to feel from day-to-day now. He's experienced the death of a family member before, when his brother Kevin was murdered when Hall was 10. He has yet to let go of that tragedy. Hall said he has learned a lot about life since then and said he's trying to keep as much of the negative as possible in his rear-view mirror. Still, he has never ruled out that some of his volatility could stem from dealing with a brother that he looked up to being gunned down.

Moving forward, Hall said he's happy to be in Oakland and paired with Nnamdi Asomugha, one of two cornerbacks he says might be better than him. He begrudgingly conceded that Denver's Champ Bailey is No. 1. Hall also dropped the gauntlet on Denver corners Dre Bly and Bailey -- the Raiders open with Denver on Monday night in Oakland -- claiming he and Asomugha are the best tandem in the league. Hall also said the battle for individual cornerback supremacy in '08 begins in Week 1, and he plans to be the winner by the end of season.

That's the D-Hall most of the world knows.

There's another layer to Hall, now, though. One that caught him off guard.

The father he never really knew is now the father he wished he knew better. Mortality has a way of trumping loquaciousness -- and grudges.

"Since then, I wake up every day trying to be a better dad," Hall said. "Better than he was. I hug my kids more. Tell my wife and my mom I love them every day. It's different. I can't take anything from him, though. Without him there would be no me. I'm going to be taking him on the field with me every day.

"I have to admit it. I love him to death."

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