Dear Reggie McKenzie,

Hi. Jim Snowden here. You don’t know me. I’m the author of a book you most likely haven’t read called Dismantle the Sun. I don’t take your failure to own a copy personally. It hasn’t been out long, didn’t have an enormous publicity campaign, and at any rate I’m sure that over the course of the last few months you’ve had other business to attend to.

It’s that other business that I wanted to write you about. As you’re no doubt aware, the Oakland Raiders’ season is going poorly. Now don’t get defensive. I’m a Raider fan, but I assure you, I’m not about to go off on a profanity-laden rant about the team’s performance, or lack thereof. This afternoon’s debacle against the Broncos certainly leaves me sorely tempted to weave a blanket of blue language that could warm the Michigan Upper Peninsula, but rest assured that this is a missive that can be left in a house full of children and persons of delicate sensibility with absolute confidence.

What concerns me, Mr. McKenzie, if I may call you that, is that you and your coaches inherited a team that seemed, to my admittedly untrained eye, possessed of two units that functioned with a reasonable degree of competence: the offense and the special teams. I will grant that after last season upgrades at right tackle and tight end were indicated, (nice work unearthing Brandon Myers, by the way) but on the whole the offense seemed poised to make serious strides in its second year.

Based on recent performances, the question for you and your coaches is why didn’t you leave the offense alone? Why did your coaches decide to tinker instead of simply and sensibly, saying, “Looks like we’ve got a good thing going here. Let’s keep smiling and not blow it.” Instead you and your staff made radical changes that may, in a year or two, lead the Raiders’ offense to be approximately as productive as it was a year ago. This seems to ‘lil ol’ layman me as a colossal waste of time and energy. What do you say?

With respect to the defense, I sympathize, Mr. McKenzie. Like Barak Obama, you inherited a mess. Everyone knew that serious work needed to be done and that resources were scarce. Still, questions remain. While it’s certainly true that Stanford Routt and DeMarcus Van Dyke had their issues in 2011, was it really wise to replace them with two corners who had histories of serious injury? Was it wise to pass through the entire NFL draft without selecting a single defensive back when you knew the team was thin at the position? Was it wise to avoid pursuing Mario Williams even though having a pass rusher of his caliber might have helped to compensate for a thin secondary?

I’ve no doubt you can answer many of these questions convincingly, Mr. McKenzie, but I’d like you to allay one last concern. During the latter stages of the Al Davis era, it was clear that Mr. Davis was struggling with the means to achieve the goals he set for his club. My concern for you is different. I’m concerned about what the goal here is, exactly. Was it ever your intention to compete for the AFC West this year? Are you aiming for next year, or five years down the road? If you’re rebuilding, why waste the time of Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden? You could have traded both for draft picks. If you’re competing, why not push to surround them with better personnel?

I address this to you as a fiction writer and educator who follows the Oakland Raiders for excitement and recreation. I’m disappointed, and I’m just looking for a reason to stay interested. My final question is, can you give me one?

Your pal,


Jim Snowden

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