NBC News’ Chuck Todd had author and New York Times ethicist Chuck Klosterman on his “The Daily Rundown” show this morning. I’m a fan of his writing, having already devoured his new book: I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and imagined).
Some of Klosterman’s villains are serious (Hitler and O.J.); others are less serious (The Eagles musical group). But my favorite chapter is on the Oakland Raiders. In reading it, I began to see some parallels with another organization I’m quite fond of.
For decades, the Raiders have owned the “nasty” brand, instilling fear (and hatred) in the hearts of their opponents. Even their uniforms are in on this conspiracy (as Klosterman notes, a study shows the Raiders have the most “malevolent overall appearance”).
None of this was an accident, but rather, an extension of the organization’s unorthodox philosophy. Speaking of which, Klosterman lists several “principles” the Raiders have consistently adhered to. Some of the things on the list (like “Draft for speed”) are interesting, but vanilla. But the list also includes things like: “Reward excessive physical play,” “Sign players that other teams are unwilling to accept,” and “Never police problematic off-the-field behavior.”
Some of this stuff reminds me of …The Daily Caller.
Klosterman goes on to explain that these principles “are purely ideological,” adding: “They represent the ethos of the Raider organization, and they’re the worldview of one man: Al Davis.”
Here’s how it impacted the Oakland players: “[I]f you wanted to be a histrionic crazy-eyed killer, that was fine–but it was just as acceptable to be the complete opposite (one example was Raider tight end Dave Casper, a well-educated eccentric who preferred fishing to partying.) Nothing was inflexible.”
My favorite part: “The Raiders were not villains because everyone on the team was a reprobate; the Raiders were villains because everyone on the team was intellectually free.” (bold mine).
Maybe this explains why — when it comes to press accounts, at least — we so often wear the black hat?