Ahead of the Curve
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If it wasn't so serious it would've been laughable: Napa County DA Gary Lieberstein's strange explanation last Friday as to why he would not be bringing a battery charge against Raider Coach Tom Cable for allegedly breaking the jaw of his assistant Randy Hanson at a team meeting last August.

In the DA's words: "There was no evidence whatsoever...that Tom Cable ever physically struck Mr. Hanson.  And this is based on full review of the three independent witnesses."

Lieberstein did concede "there was some type of physical contact that happened between Mr. Cable and Mr. Hanson when (he) went down.  And one could say in a textbook manner that a battery had occurred."

Up to this point Lieberstein's explanation for not charging Cable strained the limits of credibility but was satisfactory to anyone who wanted this embarrassing case to just go away.  None of the three "independent" witnesses corroborated Hanson's account.

But then the District Attorney took us all for fools.  Even with Hanson's broken jaw, he stated: "What I would just submit to you is it would be akin (the physicality) to one of you jostling for position, bumping into each other and asking us to prosecute."

It's hard to believe a "bumping" could result in a broken jaw.  It's even harder to believe an NFL assistant coach would be so stupid, so crazy to lie about a battery, knowing four men will contradict his claim simply by telling the truth.

Only a George Foreman belly bump is known to have such destructive power and then is only employed in contract negotiations (see Larry Sanders Show).

ESPN reported Hanson's failure to immediately contact authorities and his inconsistent statements "factored into the DA's decision."  Not surprisingly, they gave no details.

Because of the facts established and the public perception that a wrongful battery did occur, I believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend Tom Cable, the Napa DA notwithstanding.  If Goodell is keen on one thing it's the importance of public perception.  That's why Rush Limbaugh's ownership bid was doomed from the start.

It's all good and fine to cultivate the rebellious Raider image for PR purposes, but when that image becomes reality it's no longer cool for fans, players or the suits.  As ESPN's John Clayton states, "workplace violence is very serious in the eyes of the NFL."

I hope Al Davis and Randy Hanson can resolve their differences soon.  And like Eric Allen (Monday Quarterback), I too hope the Oakland Raiders can rise again and become a healthy organization.  Heck, any team that Jim Rockford roots for can't be all bad.

Steven Keys

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