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Byline: Steve Corkran
Raiders managing general partner Al Davis rarely grants interviews these days. This past Monday, he held an impromptu chat session with Steve Corkran and other Bay Area reporters who cover the Oakland Raiders. He spoke openly about an array of topics, including his thoughts on Hall of Fame-inductees Howie Long, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Dave Wilcox, current Raiders running back Tyrone Wheatley looking like Hall of Famer Jim Brown, the 49ers and Broncos and the NFL salary cap, how he will handle rookie place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski, and his relationship with the late Eric Turner. What follows is a full account of Davis' first face-to-face interview in two years:
Q: What are your recollections of Howie Long during his 13 seasons with the Raiders?
A: Howie Long, Hall of Fame. A story that might interest you. It's an intriguing story. In those days, we used to move defensive linemen around to try to pick spots for them in pass rushes, where they can really make a mark. We had a great pass rusher in Howie's career, Greg Townsend, and we used to move Howie around. So, Chuck Knox was coaching the Seattle Seahawks (one year) and went to his offensive linemen when they were working out during the week before they would play us and walked up to them and he says, "You know, a lot of people argue who our best player is, who our worst player is. But I'll tell you one thing, In a pass situation, if you see Howie Long lined over you, you'll know that the Raiders think you're the worst player." So, that's the story of Howie Long. He came to us in 1981. He was a result, actually, of a trade we made the year before for Dave Casper to the Houston Oilers. We had gotten a first and a second from the Oilers. When we picked, it was a lean year, there were some great linebackers that year in the draft. There was a guy Lawrence Taylor, a guy Hugh Green and there was a guy from Alabama, I just don't remember his name, and when we were picking, one of the guys we were considering, I'm pretty sure, was the other guy from Pittsburgh, Rickey Jackson. He played for New Orleans for about 13 years. But we took Howie. We had seen, we always do, great development. A few years, two years after that we took Sean Jones. We always look for young guys that we can develop. He came from Villanova, and I was very close to that school. And we had seen him in the Blue-Gray game, and he had played well. He blocked a punt in the Blue-Gray game. Little things. …