OK, Gannon, you can come back to Raider camp … but don’t look Al Davis in eye


The Associated Press

ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders backed off a demand made to CBS that quarterback-turned-game analyst Rich Gannon be banned from the team’s facility for production meetings before Sunday’s broadcast.

The Raiders initially told the network that Gannon was not welcome at production meetings for Sunday’s game against Denver because of constant criticism of the organization in recent years.

“He’s repeatedly said that they should just blow up the building and start all over again,” senior executive John Herrera said Friday. “He hasn’t done that once or twice, but has done that repeatedly. He continually attacks the owner (Al Davis), he continually attacks the organization in every way that he can. After listening to all of that for the last several years, why would you want him in your building when all he does is attack the organization that made his career.”

Herrera said later Friday that he stands by his criticisms of Gannon but that “because of league rules, we have relented.”

Gannon was the NFL’s MVP in 2002 for the Raiders, leading them to the Super Bowl before he threw five interceptions in a 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay.

This is Gannon’s fifth season as a broadcaster with CBS.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that the Raiders tried to ban Gannon from their facility.

Said CBS spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade: “Rich Gannon is an objective and analytical broadcaster and he will be broadcasting the game as assigned by CBS.”

Gannon was unavailable for comment.

Gannon has been critical of the Raiders in recent seasons, especially after they fired Lane Kiffin four games into the 2008 campaign. Just this week, Gannon criticized quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s performance over the first two weeks, but had positive things to say about coach Tom Cable.

Gannon joined the Raiders in 1999 after spending his first 11 seasons in the NFL with Minnesota, Washington and Kansas City. He started sporadically before joining Oakland, where he became one of the league’s top passers.

“Rich Gannon had been a journeyman quarterback in the NFL for years, and we gave him the opportunity of a lifetime to be our starting quarterback,” Herrera said. “We’re the only team that ever afforded him that opportunity. Since he retired he’s done nothing but attack the organization that gave him his chance. It’s kind of like the dog you have at home. You nurture him, feed him, take care of him and all he wants to do is bite you.

“He was one of the least popular players with his teammates that we ever had here and he still can’t seem to get over the fact that he played the worst game in Super Bowl history. He threw five interceptionss and three of them were returned for touchdowns. He has blamed everyone else for that.”

Because the Raiders failed to sell Sunday’s game out in Oakland, even given a one-day extension, it will not air in the Bay Area at 1 p.m.

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