Oakland's Kiffin could be fired by Davis today

The Baltimore Sun

In a conversation about Oakland coach Lane Kiffin in mid-August, Raiders managing general partner Al Davis said, "He's not the guy I hired."

From the outset of training camp, Kiffin has fired back almost daily by reminding everyone that he lacks the autonomy to do the job he was hired to do.

The endgame is coming soon, several front office officials who have witnessed the war of wills unfold between Davis and Kiffin over the past nine months told California's Contra Costa Times.

Those people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say Davis is at wit's end and prepared to fire Kiffin before season's end, perhaps as soon as today, regardless of the outcome of yesterday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders won, 23-8.

Neither Davis nor Kiffin could be reached for comment. However, on Wednesday, Kiffin had this to say to Kansas City-area media:

"You have to look at the history," Kiffin said. "History is what it is, that [Davis] doesn't keep people very long. We don't have a general manager. Everything goes through [Davis]. That sets up a difficult situation at times. Knowing who the owner is, you know from Day 1 there's no job security."

Davis has fired a coach during a season only once in his 46 years with the Raiders. That came in 1989, when he jettisoned Mike Shanahan after four games. He promoted Art Shell to replace Shanahan.

Davis has numerous candidates in place on his coaching staff, though it remains unclear who would be the favorite.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan interviewed for the vacancy in 2007. Receivers coach James Lofton has interviewed for the job at least twice. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp canceled a scheduled interview for the vacancy in 2004 so that he could join Jim Mora's Atlanta Falcons staff. Advance scout Paul Hackett was a head coach in college. Running backs coach Tom Rathman is a favorite of Davis'.

Davis reached his current state even before the Raiders were humiliated by the archrival Denver Broncos, 41-14, at home, in front of a sold-out crowd and a national TV audience last Monday night.

His once-rosy relationship with Kiffin deteriorated soon after the Raiders completed a 4-12 season in Kiffin's first year as an NFL coach last year.

Kiffin wanted Ryan removed. Davis balked. Kiffin, in essence, asked to be fired if he couldn't have control over player personnel and the makeup of his coaching staff. Davis, in essence, told Kiffin that he should quit if he didn't like it.

Time passed, but it didn't do much to heal the wound.

More Raiders:: Running back Justin Fargas left in the second quarter against the Chiefs with a groin injury. He had 43 yards on nine carries but did not return.

Chiefs:: Quarterback Damon Huard didn't play the final three quarters against the Raiders after suffering what the team called "mild head trauma." Huard started in place of Brodie Croyle, who separated his shoulder against the Patriots last week. Huard finished 2-for-4 for 19 yards yesterday and was replaced by Tyler Thigpen.

Saints:: Coach Sean Payton was given a contract extension through the 2012 season. Payton already was signed through 2009. He went 17-15 his first two years, including a trip to the NFC championship game in 2006.

Bears:: Return specialist Devin Hester was carted to the locker room with an apparent rib injury during the third quarter of the loss to Carolina. He did not return any kicks after the injury.

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