(Photo courtesy of Oakland Raiders)
This week’s guests on the Talk of Fame Network know about change because they’ve seen plenty of it. New Oakland Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio and the most powerful agent in football, Tom Condon, have both seen the landscape radically altered since they each arrived in the NFL over 25 years ago.
Now Del Rio has been charged with trying to revive the Raiders’ Silver and Black mystic in a place that has not seen the playoffs in 12 years. He says he’ll call upon what he learned watching Jimmy Johnson turn around the Dallas Cowboys in the early ’90s, and Brian Billick do the same with the Baltimore Ravens a decade later when Del Rio served him as linebacker coach on their 2001 Super Bowl champions.
“Demand! Demand! Demand!” Del Rio said of Johnson’s approach to remaking the losing culture that had taken root in Dallas before he arrived in 1989. “Everybody has to be challenged.”
As for Billick, what Del Rio will take from him to Oakland this season is “to play to your strengths. Brian Billick was an offensive guru who wanted to throw, but we became a defensive team.”
Del Rio added jokingly that what he’d love to bring from his time in Denver — where, as defensive coordinator the past three seasons, he built a defense that helped the Broncos reach the Super Bowl in 2013 — is simple.
“That’s an easy one,” he said. “Have a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. That doesn’t hurt in terms of team building.”
Del Rio doesn’t quite have that yet in Oakland, but he believes young Derek Carr “has a chance to be special.”
Tom Condon represents many of the biggest names in the game, including Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Richard Sherman, JJ Watt, Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and some 50 more of the NFL’s best players. After a 12-year career as an NFL grunt, starting at guard for most of that time despite having arrived in Kansas City in 1974 as a 10th-round draft choice, Condon turned to labor law and then the agent business.
But challenging NFL management began for him as a rookie when he turned down Hank Stram’s offer of a one-year, $14,000 contract with a $2,000 signing bonus. Stunned, Stram informed him it was really a $2,000 summer job for a guy like him, but Condon showed the first signs of what he would become when he leveraged having been drafted by the WFL into a $18,000 contract, with a $10,000 signing bonus from the Chiefs.
“When I finally made the team, Hank picked up a business card and gave it to me,” Condon recalled. “I thought it was his card. It was his tailor’s. He thought I wasn’t as nattily dressed as I should be.”
Condon discusses how rookie contracts and life has changed for today’s players and offers his view on the Tom Brady suspension and how he would have handled it. It wasn’t at all the way agent Don Yee approached the matter.
In addition, Dr. Data returns with his weekly lesson on the NFL, dissecting the league’s revolving door at running back and what it means. The Borges or Bogus segment turns a jaundiced eye toward “Deflategate,” and our host, Clark Judge, makes the Hall-of-Fame case for one of the most versatile running backs in NFL history, former San Francisco 49er fullback Roger Craig.
As always there’s also the two-minute drill’s rapid look at the issues of the week and a lively debate among five Hall-of-Fame voters on whether the “Deflategate” scandal and subsequent suspension of Tom Brady jeopardizes his chances of becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer. That, and more, is available on your local radio stations, iTunes podcast … and at talkoffamenetwork.com