Gannon calls last six weeks 'disgraceful'

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Rich Gannon realized the Oakland Raiders
had major problems well before this season's debacle began.

Personnel. Discipline. Play-calling.

It was also apparent to last season's league MVP during training
camp that Oakland's revised offense was too complicated for all the
young players, and it just wasn't going to work.

Gannon called for sweeping change Tuesday in his first public
statement since getting knocked out of the Raiders' 17-10 loss to
Kansas City on Oct. 20 and later having surgery on his throwing
shoulder to repair a torn labrum.

"I wouldn't say I'd take a torch to the place, but it wouldn't
be far from that," said Gannon, who was headed into a meeting with
owner Al Davis. "It's going to take special people to turn this
thing around."

The Raiders finished a 4-12 season with a 21-14 loss to San
Diego on Sunday, and second-year coach Bill Callahan is under fire
less than a year after guiding the franchise to its third straight
AFC West title and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Oakland posted its worst record since also going 4-12 in 1997.
The Raiders tied with three other teams for fewest wins in the
league in the biggest collapse by a team that reached the Super
Bowl the previous year.

The 38-year-old Gannon would like to remain with the Raiders,
whether Callahan is coaching them or not. He hasn't thrown since
his Nov. 13 surgery, but his rehab is ahead of schedule and he's
expected to be ready for spring minicamps.

Yet the Raiders might opt not to take on the $7 million salary
Gannon is set to make in 2004. The quarterback believes he unfairly
became the organization's scapegoat in the first seven weeks of the
season when no one stepped forward to take responsibility for the

"This team has won with me," Gannon said. "It's a simple
question: Is this team better off with me or without me? That's a
decision that they'll make, and it's the bottom line.

"I've been one that's more than happy to restructure and to do
whatever I can to help the team in terms of the cap. But if they
ask me to take a penny less, I'd say no. I think I earn every penny
I make. I think I'm a value to this football team. I've been that
way the last four seasons, and I don't think anyone can argue that

Gannon supported Callahan's decision to enforce team rules and
deactivate star cornerback Charles Woodson and running back Charlie
Garner for Sunday's season finale at San Diego for missing curfew.
But the quarterback also questioned the way coaches handled other

It was after the Raiders' 23-13 loss at Detroit on Nov. 2, when
Woodson twice came out publicly against Callahan, that Gannon
believes the season began spiraling downward for good.

"We all have to accept responsibility for what transpired this
year," said Gannon, a 16-year NFL veteran. "This is a complete
embarrassment to this organization, you know, for the players, and
for the coaches, and for the owner, and for everybody involved,
general manager. We all have to accept responsibility. But for me,
that was very difficult. And I need more, I have to demand more out
of people around me.

"I've done it in the past. I demand it, and I ask for more out
of our coaches. That's stuff that needs to get addressed and fixed,
and it didn't. Not to my liking. It just continued to get worse, to
the point where I would go out there the last five, six weeks of
the season, and it was disgraceful."

Gannon described a practice leading into the season opener at
Tennessee -- which the Raiders lost 25-20 -- when he had an
"emotional eruption" because he didn't agree with Callahan's
offensive system.

And the Raiders were ill-prepared heading into the game, Gannon

"I think that, in hindsight, we would have been better off
going down to Tennessee and probably playing our second-team guys,
seriously, and taken a beating and coming back and starting the
season the next week," he said. "But it just didn't turn out that

Last season, Gannon led the league's top offense and broke the
NFL completions record with 418. He led the league with 4,689 yards
passing, nearly becoming just the second quarterback to go over
5,000 yards in a season. Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards in 1984.