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.


Tags: Al Davis Jim Plunkett Oakland Raiders Tom Flores

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