ALAMEDA — Randy Hanson calls working for the Raiders his dream job. That dream turned into reality when coach Lane Kiffin hired him shortly after Kiffin replaced Art Shell as Raiders coach in 2007.
Hanson soon earned a reputation as a tireless worker, willing to assume any task as the assistant defensive backs coach. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan labeled Hanson the "smartest guy" around.
These days, Hanson is living a professional nightmare as a result of an outburst he had on the heels of Oakland's 41-14 season-opening loss to the Mike Shanahan-coached Denver Broncos, and the resulting action taken by Kiffin.
"It's a good thing that Shanahan didn't have our players," Hanson snapped after the Broncos game, "or else he would have beaten us 1,000-0."
Kiffin suspended Hanson for what amounted to five days, including Oakland's game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 14. Hanson's role since has been reduced, and he feels as if he is being phased out.
Kiffin attributed Hanson's absence to "personal issues" and said there was no animosity between him and Hanson.
"Randy had some personal issues going on," Kiffin said Sept. 17, when asked if Hanson had been suspended. "Randy still did some work for us, but he spent some time at home to get some things straight in his personal life."
Hanson takes exception to Kiffin's characterization of his absence.
"Oh, (expletive), that ain't true," Hanson said, in an
Hanson also was ordered by Kiffin to take a full physical to make sure that he wasn't suffering from any underlying issues.
"Can you imagine that?" Hanson asked. "Look at me, I'm fine."
None of this sat well with managing general partner Al Davis, who was unaware of Kiffin's decision to suspend Hanson, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.
Davis hasn't made any official comments on the situation. However, he said Thursday that he intends to speak with the media in the coming days. He did not specify what he'll talk about.
Kiffin's job security no doubt will be the primary focus of the media's inquiries. Bay Area News Group reported Sept. 14 that Davis is prepared to fire Kiffin at any point.
Kiffin's handling of the Hanson incident doesn't bode well for a favorable outcome. It also bears noting that Davis has a penchant for supporting those most loyal to him and the Raiders. Hanson fits the bill.
"I love being here," Hanson said. "I love these players. I'm loyal to these players and this team, all right? I'm on the side of the players and the Raiders. And anybody who isn't on the side of the Raiders, then I'm not with them."
It's that unyielding loyalty that endears Hanson to Davis but landed him on Kiffin's bad side.
It started during the third quarter of the Broncos game, when Hanson was excoriated by a coach other than Kiffin — Hanson declined to identify the person — for providing some defensive players with too much information.
Soon after the game, Hanson voiced his displeasure with the way the game went, in the presence of other coaches, he said.
Kiffin overheard the outburst, summoned Hanson into his office and reprimanded him. The suspension followed.
Two days later, Kiffin irked Davis by telling the media that Ryan and Davis conspire on the defensive scheme. Davis viewed Kiffin's public hand-washing of his role in the defensive game plan as being a far more egregious offense than Hanson losing his cool behind closed doors, according to several people close to Davis.
For the record, Hanson said he shouldn't have said some of the things he did. Yet, at the same time, he stands by his comments because "someone had to stand up" and call into question some of the things that transpired during the game.
"I was pretty upset at the time," Hanson said. "I haven't shown it (since). I even apologized to Lane when I got back. I said, 'Hey, you know what, I said some things I shouldn't have said.' "
Damage done. Hanson no longer is part of meetings he once presided over or was an integral part of. He isn't asked to perform the duties he spent all offseason preparing for. He is a coach adrift in a sea of chaos.
Hanson termed it "weird" and "very curious."
If nothing else, his reduced role is incongruous with the value assigned him by Ryan last year.
"He doesn't sleep at night, he just studies, studies, studies," Ryan said Aug. 8, 2007. "And this guy was hired to (break down opponents) for us, personnel-wise, and he's been tremendous. Smartest guy. Like I say, 'Man, you might be the smartest guy in the National Football League.' He goes, 'Well, there are smarter guys out there, but they're in NASA.' So, this guy is a huge plus for us."
Ultimately, Hanson said he wants what is best for the Raiders, even if that means a permanent demotion, a reassignment or his leaving his dream job.
"I dreamed this," Hanson said. "This is what I wanted to do my whole life, was to come here, all right? This was my goal. I set forth to do this. I worked my way up all to get to the Raiders because I wanted to coach for the Raiders.
"Then I get here and (it's), 'All right, we're going to get it turned around', this and that, but it's always guys worried about the ... minor (stuff). Majoring in the minors instead of majoring in the majors. It's coaches having problems with coaches. I've never had a problem with any coach. All of a sudden the (stuff) is coming down. I don't get it."
You get the sense that someone is about to get it.
Contact Steve Corkran at email@example.com.