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You� re a good fit for Raiders, MeAngelo


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It seemed a departure from the man s makeup and objectives late last season when DeAngelo Hall said: I don t want to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league and losing every game. Money only gets you so much happiness.

How unfortunate when such pure thoughts get flattened by a Winnebago.

Hall is nearing a seven-year, $70 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. If the Raiders aren t the worst franchise in professional sports, it s only because nobody really counts them anymore. In the past five years, they ve gone 4-12, 5-11, 4-12, 2-14 and 4-12. That makes 19 wins. The Falcons in that same span: 35 (and a playoff berth).

This is where DeAngelo Hall ends his pursuit of happiness?

Now, there s no denying that Hall is a great athlete. He s almost as good a cornerback as he thinks he is. So logic says this potential trade makes the Raiders better and the Falcons worse. But given the state of the Falcons franchise, Hall was more likely to be an obstacle than an asset in the immediate future.

The Falcons will be generally devoid of stars next season. When a team doesn t have tangibles (players), it needs to make up for it with intangibles (effort, unity, chemistry). Hall only gets in the way not because he s talented, but because his words and actions have screamed that his priorities are elsewhere.

Coach Mike Smith preferred not to comment on Hall on Wednesday, partly because there s no closure, yet. But his philosophies and his values don t suggest a lot of overlap with the player who s likely headed out the door.

What people might not know about our defense in Jacksonville is we didn t have a lot of guys who got much publicity throughout the league, Smith said. We had a solid group of physically tough guys who enjoyed playing together. Even in Baltimore, we only had a couple of bell cows. We had a lot of guys who understood about the team concept. That s what we re trying to establish here.

Smith was an assistant with the Ravens before going to Jacksonville. The key to Baltimore s Super Bowl team, he said, went far beyond the Ravens great defense.

We had five games in which we didn t score an offensive touchdown, and we won three of those, he said. That s not just about the defense. It s about the defense, the offense and the special teams staying together. It s about the team staying together. There wasn t any bickering or players pointing fingers. Nobody spoke out. When we won the Super Bowl, it was a testament, not just to the athleticism of the team, but to the heart, the determination and the mind-set of the players.

It s a culture we need to establish here, starting next week with the OTAs. Everybody has to be accountable toward each other. When you have that culture, that s when you succeed.

Hall did not make the Pro Bowl last season. If only that was the biggest problem.

Before the season, he told new coach Bobby Petrino he wouldn t return punts or play snaps at wide receiver. (So much for that team concept.)

In the third game against Carolina, he melted down with three penalties totaling 67 yards (pass interference, personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct) that led to a touchdown and a loss. Then he yelled at coaches who dared to suggest he might want to calm down, leading to a $100,000 fine and being benched from the starting lineup the following week.

It s noteworthy that teammates were consulted before the discipline was handed out.

In a late-season Monday night game, Hall ripped the scab off the Michael Vick soap opera when he walked onto the field carrying a Vick poster and wearing MV7 under his eyes.

What was the purpose? To start a bonfire?

Two weeks later, while his teammates were merely trying to hold things together and finish the season, Hall held court for the media in front of his locker. Why? To squawk about his contract. But remember: It s not about the money.

Oakland is willing to part with two draft picks for Hall. At least the Falcons will have a choice of personalities to choose from.

Hall s future in Atlanta has been dead for some time. It needs to be. This franchise needs leaders and bonding agents. Hall has other objectives.

i like Coach Smith

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