Oakland Raiders: Time To Fire Tom Flores & Jim Plunkett, Airwaves Need Fresh Blood

Tom Flores won two Super Bowls in nine seasons as Raider coach. Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

If you tune in to watch the Oakland Raiders preseason game tonight, you’ll be one of many suffering through Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett extending four and five-word sentences into a cacophony of stuttering interrupted only to show weekly highlights of Super Bowls long gone to the same television audience, lord knows what radio listeners are going through.

This should be the last preseason game these two legends cover, and 2013 should be the last season for Flores and Plunkett on Raider broadcasts.

I wasn’t looking forward to writing this, or trying to convince fans these men need to go, but they do, and it’s for the good of everyone involved, including their own legacies.

I don’t often feel the need to present my credentials as a fan, but we all deserve a better product. And, Marcus Allen’s Sports Illustrated poster was tacked on my wall as I was watching what is still the greatest run in Super Bowl history, I saw every Lombardi trophy get awarded, and I’m quick to inform arrogant San Francisco 49er fans about how Al Davis did more to promote social progress in America than any sports executive since Branch Rickey.

In 1981, the Hispanic combination of head coach Tom Flores and quarterback Jim Plunkett made the Raiders a popular team in Mexico. c AP Photo

I’ve also used both of these accomplished Hispanic men as examples that Al only ever saw two colors, Silver & Black.

But it’s time for a new voice, and there’s no other way to say it — broadcasters have to be able to speak in clear, authoritative sentences without completely distracting viewers or listeners with stuttering.

Pacific graduate Tom Flores is beginning his 15th season in the Raiders radio booth.
Al Golub/For The Record

George Atkinson, who is also a part of the broadcast team, is just as bad, and every bit as old. Tom Flores is 76 years old, Plunkett is 65 years old and Atkinson is 66 years old. People, that is 207 years on earth for what are three key faces of a franchise in desperate need of a lift.

He had an amazing career, but Plunkett has never offered amazing insight. Flores’ wider lens as a former coach gave the audience much more, Atkinson just needs to go. Fortunately the Raiders do have a quality play-by-play man in Greg Papa who’s a natural on TV. He is a bit of a homer, but Papa’s also a seasoned pro who will ease the transition for any less experienced candidates.

Allowing Flores to do one final season with Papa while aggressively pursuing a vibrant heir makes sense. A sideline voice is both less important and easier to find.

The entire Raider organization has been decaying for years, not just on the field, and outstanding media coverage is what Raider fans deserve.

Oct 16, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders former quarterback Jim Plunkett reacts during halftime ceremony to honor owner Al Davis (not pictured) during the game against the Cleveland Browns at the O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

The new hire doesn’t have to be a former Heisman winner; just accomplished, with insight, charisma, camera presence, some affiliation with the Raiders would work best, as would a willingness to criticize, so fans on the radio can have an accurate picture of what’s going on. Eric Davis wasn’t a superstar, but he’s now thriving in a similar role for the 49ers — and it matters.

A younger personality will have a much bigger media presence throughout the week, help keep the Raiders in the media for the right reasons, and let prospective free agents know that Oakland is a real NFL destination from top to bottom. As the Raiders slowly enter the 21st century.

Oakland Raiders coach Tom Flores and owner Al Davis, January, 1981. (AP Photo) Photo: AP

These are just some random names, all would be upgrades although I would imagine there are younger and better options available:

Jeremy Newberry, Bill Romanowski, Tim Brown, Lorenzo Neal, Rodney Peete, Zack Crockett, Jon Ritchie and Nnamdi Asomugha if he retires. Charles Woodson could become a star in this forum, but Chuck will get a national deal if he wants to go into broadcasting, which may also be true for Nnamdi.

This much is certain. The Raiders need to inject fresh blood into their airwaves, Raider fans deserve better analysis and the tangible energy that can only be found by choosing a vibrant new voice that will grow with this young team.

 

Topics: Al Davis, Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders, Tom Flores

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  • Maninblck

    You can start by handing in your colors and never speak of the Nation EVER AGAIN! I like this crew and I sometimes turn the volume down on the tv and turn up the volume on the stereo to hear there play on the game. I am a Raider and I want a Raider legend calling the game. Let me tell you something, when our games get called by other announcers ( Solomon Wilcox you know who you are ) all they do drone on about how bad we are and how there’s no hope for our team. You know after 3 hours of that I just want to take the tv and chuck it out the window. So screw you if you don’t like our team and go rout for someone else, we didn’t need you here before and we sure as hell don’t need you now! By the way I’m giving you a hand gesture that says your number 1, let’s hope you have the intelligence to figure that one out! Go Raiders!

    • Samuel Charles

      I’ve always suggested that the replacement should be a Raider.

      It wouldn’t make any sense to me to have someone who has no affiliation with the Raiders doing our games, which is what I wrote in this article.

      A younger, more vibrant, more charismatic — Raider. That’s who I want doing our games.

      I’m here to win Super Bowls not watch replays.

      And just so you know…

      If you want me to give up my Silver & Black colors — you better be prepared to come and take them by force.

      Thanks for reading,

      Sam

  • Rogue Raider

    you are an idiot! They are winners, leaders, mentors to those new Raiders and players that aspire to either play in the NFL or be a quarterback. What have you ever done that comes close?

  • Jaer Sosa

    this guys are the best raiders legends in there own right i love these guys and the broad cast crew

  • iukyjhgrfvdcs

    you probably wanted to get rid of Bill King too

  • Fernando Maestas

    Freedoms of speech? My god, you can’t just go and talk crap about our announcing crew who are Raiders and then hide behind the same shield these guys bled and sweated for.. messed up and wasn’t wise. Obviously, you most likely think you should be announcing but who are you? Don’t you even consider that the the Raider Nation from the top down reads and listens to fan sided as a whole? … I’m a sports writer and appear on many podcasts to speak about the Raiders and this club is on the rise. Its articles like this that unnecessarily puts efforts to divide Raider Nation as a whole. You just sit in your misery and turn down your TV as we all enjoy reminiscing with our Raider greats who keep the memories alive through experience. We are truly blessed to have the luxury to hear these guys speak silver and black. As an analyst, I know a lot about the silver and black because its what I do and really, these guys are right on in their research and for some people, gametime commentary is all they have. Its a low blow and for someone who calls themself a writer, you should not bash on people in the same profession especially in the same organization you are trying to reach. Self induced banishment? Sounds like it! Good luck with that.

    • Samuel Charles

      To all of my angry readers,

      Just because they are Raiders (or even Raider legends) means these men are free from criticism, or shouldn’t be held to a high standard?

      One of the biggest problems the Raiders have had over the last decade is allowing people who are no longer qualified to remain on scholarship, and not be reviewed to be upgraded, demoted or fired (our scouting dept., the broadcast team etc). Which is only made worse when people are under the impression that we aren’t allowed to say anything the least bit bad about anyone with any affiliation with the Raiders.

      I think it is important that we do so with respect, I have tried to do so here.

      And, I’ve suggested we find a younger, more vibrant voice that already has an affiliation with the Raiders.

      If people would still like to see these aging men participate in the pregame or half-time of Raider games, I would disagree, but perhaps that is a middle path.

      But Tom Flores will be 77 years old next year, and I can tell you as someone who was on television and radio in New York for seven years — he is no longer an asset, he gets in the way of the broadcast, and makes great plays less exciting.

      And the notion that their insight is the same quality as people 30 years younger than them is simply not true, it’s worse, less relevant, and they don’t have casual information and anecdotes about today’s players. If you’ve read any of my articles I’ve pointed out about the bright future of the YOUNG Raiders, and I don’t know too many people who were singing Terrelle Pryor’s praises before me.

      When I see bright spots I will say so, and when I see decaying portions of this franchise lagging behind I feel obligated to say so.

      And one of the problems in recent years has been too much reminiscing and not enough focus on making every single portion of this franchise as great as it ONCE was. I don’t need to be reminded about the Super Bowls we won decdes ago, I need a young voice exciting Raider Nation about who, how and why these young players will help us win the next one.

      Would you still want Plunkett & Flores coaching and playing for the Raiders this season just because they’re legends?

      I didn’t want to write this article, offend Raider fans and I definitely don’t want to show any disrespect to Flores & Plunkett, but I’m sorry, an article like this should’ve been written years ago.

      I appreciate that Raider fans don’t like what I’ve written, but I’m a lot more interested in winning another Super Bowl than I am in letting Flores and Plunkett talk about ones that most NFL fans have forgotten.

      Thank all of you for reading, I’ve read your assaults, I can see your not happy.

      I’ll just steal someone else’s material…

      because it’s not about Jim & Tom, it’s about helping the Raiders

      Just Win Baby

      • James K

        And you still don’t get it! You can’t talk Age-ism and expect anyone here to listen to you. You are a prejudiced selfish person and not the voice of this young team. Stick to what the GM Coaches and players are doing. Beyond that you have not earned the right to enter the same room as Mr. Flores or Plunkett.

        • Samuel Charles

          James,

          I wouldn’t feel the need to make a big point on the issue of age if it wasn’t so clearly affecting their performances. And, I think it makes sense to get a young replacement because that could lead to a long-term solution.

          But I agree with you wholeheartedly, the accomplishments of Mr. Flores and Mr. Plunkett won’t be affected one iota by anything I will ever have to say about them, good or bad.

          But I’ll get back to working on some GM and coach info now, hopefully that leads to kinder comments…

          thanks for reading,

          Sam

          • James K

            What you should be talking about is why both pod these men aren’t honored in the Hall of Fame.

      • Fernando Maestas

        This article would have been fine without the bashing. Lincoln Kennedy has been hired on to cover on the field commentary and interviews. I think the bashing is the disconnect

  • James K

    Hey Sam,
    Take your basketball and your soccer ball and shove them
    Where the sun don’t shine.
    Furthermore don’t ever mention Jim Plunkett or Tom Flores again.
    You should never come anywhere near the Coliseum from this point out.

  • Silvia Arredondo

    Thats messed up. They are a pair of oldies but they have alot of knowledge and experience.

  • DanfromVegas

    WTF??? Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett call a great Raiders game. I like their energy, insight, and especially, their passion and love for the Raiders. On top of that, they are Raiders legends, the last Raiders Super Bowl Champions. Why would you even go there? I just lost respect for you.

  • Manny San Miguel

    I can’t believe this bunch of rabid, blind losers here; biting off ANYONE who even hint of criticising ANY of our great past Legends, no matter how WELL DESERVED OR OBJECTIVE!

    You’re RIGHT on this point, Sam: Sad to admit, but Flores and Plunkett, who gave us SO MUCH in those glory years (1979-84), are now clearly NOT an asset to this young, energetic new RAIDERS Team, building towards the future, not the past.

    All your arguments on their slurred coverage and non-existent, in-depth analysis is very sadly TRUE…

    It hurts; I KNOW because I’ve been a RAIDERS Fan since 1972.

    But, just like we had to change our whole fiscal and strategic philosophy when AL passed; IF WE WANT TO WIN MORE SUPER BOWLS, we MUST break from the stagnation of the past and embrace our future… a glorious future!

    Yes, SAM… well said indeed! JUST WIN, BABY!

    • James K

      Writers ( if Sam actually qualifies) should keep their opinions to the game, coaches and players.
      Juicing up the preseason broadcast with a bunch of MTV types is Not going to change the game.
      Eventually Mr Flores and Mr Plunkett will leave/lose their jobs.
      But I personally would be honered to see them here for as long as they can breathe !

  • holy roller

    gimmie romo if ya gotta change or Stabler………or Tim Brown…….

  • holy roller

    actually, I always liked the Flores/Plunkett combo, the concept of having something “important” to say escapes me……(it’s football) and these two did some mighty fine work together back when. Now, ‘ol tommy boy is getting less intelligable……and yeah, Plunk is getting older but based on ur “angry readers” it seems many are happy with the status quo……….I really wouldn’t mind seeing Stabler in there…the dude needs a break…or Tim Brown…..a little exposure for the HOF writers wouldn’t hurt either of them. Rather than bagging on them, let’s start a campaign to get them all in the HOF……..u know they belong there……

  • holy roller

    Besides, it’s the play by play guy that calls the game. Remind me please, who was the color man with Bill King? Scotty sterling or something like that? point is, Papa much like King before him is the Raiders voice. I have mimicked his touchdown calls at games and gotten quite a favorable response so don’t think it’s just me. Like someone said about Johnny Winter “i’d pay to watch him fart”……….yada..yada…yda..