ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis rarely talks to the media anymore.
So when Davis got the chance at a news conference announcing the hiring of Hue Jackson as his new head coach on 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 says he withheld the money from Cable's last six checks because of the strain on the organization from lawsuits involving Cable assaulting a former assistant coach and a former girlfriend.
The suit by former assistant Randy Hanson was kicked out of court and sent to an NFL arbitrator. Davis said that 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 did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Cable 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. He was also angered by one aspect of Lutz's lawsuit that said Cable brought her on road trips with the team, saying it goes against his way of living and the Raider way.
He said that even though 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. He said the altercation happened more than 20 years ago and was the only time he's ever touched a woman inappropriately. Because that happened before Cable joined the NFL, he was not punished by the league.
Davis said he still does not know what happened in the hotel room at training camp when Hanson had his jaw 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.
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 guys 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."
_ He said the team was hurt by the failures of former No. 1 overall 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."
_ He said he was not 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."
_ He explained why he still believes in 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."
_ He said he wouldn't know whether Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would be brought back after the final year of his contract voided, but 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?"
_ He also said he was not 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."
_ He 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."
_ He would not give an opinion on a proposed 18-game season that commissioner Roger Goodell wants in the new collective bargaining agreement, but said the 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."
_ He said he wasn't worried about recent criticisms from Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler, who was upset the team let Cable go, pointing out that Lechler 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."