OAKLAND — As Courtney Anderson stood at his cubicle politely answering to the Raiders' latest disaster, star teammate Randy Moss stood within reach, dressing himself and urging Anderson to sprinkle some candor into his comments.

The Raiders, seeking their first win of the season, took an 18-point lead over previously winless Cleveland and gagged it away Sunday at McAfee Coliseum. Taking stock of the collapse that resulted in a 24-21 loss, Anderson spit out platitudes. The tight end took the safest path to career survival.

Who knows? The folks who sign his paycheck might not appreciate honesty.

So Anderson, 25, said the game plan was solid. That the team had made productive use of the bye week and felt "fresh" entering the game.

He said, in essence, the Raiders lost because they didn't make enough plays. True enough.

"We just didn't finish," Anderson said.

Moss, listening to his young teammate, felt compelled to respond. As he buttoned his shirt and reached for his jewelry, he put Anderson on the spot.

"Just tell'em why, tell'emwhy," the veteran said quietly but very audibly.

"Tell'em why we didn't finish the game. Don't be shy."

Anderson stayed with his story, releasing the slightest trace of a smile.

Understand, this was mere seconds after Moss had declined an interview request. Though he opted not to address the game or any other issue, there clearly was plenty on his mind.


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The designated star of the offense had caught one pass, a 5-yard touchdown, giving him a three-game total of seven catches, for 84 yards — a good half for Moss when he was in Minnesota. It has been 315 days since he has been a part of a victory. It's conceivable that being a Raider isn't all he imagined.

But Randy's dissatisfaction is palpable, as is that of his teammates. And not just because the team can't win a game.

Or because they were moments removed from losing one easily within their grasp.

There will be legitimate debate about the work of the men in stripes, specifically their visibly errant spotting of a ball on a third-down reception by Ronald Curry in the fourth quarter. The consequences of the poor spot, costing the Raiders a first down, were compounded when Oakland failed on fourth-and-inches.

Some might even quibble with Cleveland's go-ahead touchdown, snagged by Joe Jurevicius as he fell out of the end zone.

The hard truth? The Raiders, motivated by two wretched performances, with two weeks to prepare, farted away an 18-point lead. At home. To Cleveland.

If the losses to San Diego and Baltimore provided no real insight into the character and potential of these Raiders, this loss surely did. Until they find a way to win a game, just one, there can be no truly shocking loss — not to Arizona (Oct. 22) or Houston (Dec. 3) or any opponent on their schedule.

Being caught up in it is eating away at the hardiest professionals.

Veteran defensive lineman Warren Sapp spent the postgame fighting a losing battle to conceal his fury.

"We run for 200 yards and we lose the game," he sighed. "Unheard of."

Linebacker Kirk Morrison bit his lip and lowered his eyes.

"We put in the effort, had a great first half," he said. "I wish I could say ... I'm just going to keep fighting. That's how I am."

Running back LaMont Jordan again pleaded with everyone in the organization to find a mirror, do their part in fixing this horribly broken football team.

Yet Moss' cryptic tone, as well as subtle hints dropped by some of his teammates, can be taken as implication of something unhealthy within the organization. Something poisonous about the culture.

Moss' attempts to prod his teammate did not amount to pointing fingers at any particular player, coach, executive, owner, philosophy, predicament or environment.

What it did was strongly suggest that at least Moss believes the Raiders' problems can be readily identified — as soon as someone is willing enough, bold enough, to step out of the single-file line of decorum.

In other words, as soon as someone can formulate a challenge so constructive and rational and intelligent it can be accepted by all impact members of the organization — from owner Al Davis to the last man on the practice squad. 

Someone with enough credibility and job security to bring the kind of dynamic energy once supplied by Rich Gannon, the kind of searing commentary formerly offered by Charles Woodson, the kind of careful analysis typically generated by Tim Brown.

Why not Randy? He has the presence. Maybe he'll say what he believes needs to be said, say it in greater detail than he did on radio a few weeks ago.

If Moss thinks it should be said, and it probably should, who better than him to say it?

Monte Poole can be reached at (510) 208-6461 or by e-mail at mpoole@angnewspapers.com.