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Brown implores Raiders to stop bickering

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- As the longest-tenured member of the
Oakland Raiders, Tim Brown decided it was about time he talked to
his frustrated teammates.

The message: Shut up and play.

Brown addressed the Raiders (2-6) this week in an effort to get
them back on track after the franchise's worst start in 39 years
and the public criticism cornerback Charles Woodson had of
second-year coach Bill Callahan.

Callahan initiated a meeting with Woodson on Wednesday, saying
they worked things out. Woodson called Callahan stubborn and said
he had lost control of his team and that the Raiders were falling
apart. He last went off after Oakland's 23-13 loss at Detroit last
Sunday.

"There will be no more comments about all this stuff that has
been happening," said the 37-year-old Brown, who's been with the
Raiders since they drafted him in the first round in 1988. "I
think that was the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, and
the best thing to do for this team, which is more important.

"Talk about football, talk about the Jets, talk about football
games, but all this other stuff is not going to get us anywhere at
this particular point."

The Raiders have been looking for leadership at a time they seem
so vulnerable. Quarterback Rich Gannon is injured, and so is backup
Marques Tuiasosopo, leaving third-stringer Rick Mirer to start
Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Many vocal members of
Oakland's offensive line -- Mo Collins, Frank Middleton and Lincoln
Kennedy -- have been battling injuries. So have several defensive
stars, such as John Parrella and Dana Stubblefield.

"You can say whatever you want to say in this locker room,
there's freedom of speech," Middleton said. "Nobody is mad at
C-Wood and nobody is mad at Bill Callahan. They're two guys who
have different feelings about each other. I'll leave it at that."

Brown believes the Raiders were approaching "a very divisive
situation" only eight games removed from their Super Bowl loss to
Tampa Bay. The Raiders are off to their worst start since beginning
1-6-1 in 1964.

"I have seen some divisive situations around here," Brown
said. "And at this point in my career, I do not want to be going
through that kind of stuff. It wasn't just me. There were other
guys speaking, too. I think at some point you have got to trust a
veteran's judgment in that kind of a situation. It's not like
you've got people who want to run to the microphone and say things.
We don't have that going on."

Brown even offered to let his teammates blame him for all the
problems instead of their coaches or other players. About 10 of the
Raiders watched the Patriots-Broncos Monday night game at Brown's
house.

What Brown doesn't want to see is the Raiders picking sides,
because that's when things could really fall apart.

"It is a tough, tough position to be in -- it's like you are
siding with the coach or you are siding with the player, and that's
just not cool," he said. "The only way to not be in that position
is to not even talk about it. Otherwise you are going to find
yourself on one side of the fence. It's hard to straddle the fence
in this type situation. You can't straddle the fence."

Other veterans agree they have to set an example.

"Sometimes it's as subtle as you walk in and say, 'I feel
great,' and it has an impact," defensive end Trace Armstrong said.
"Then all of a sudden they say, 'I feel good, too.'''