ALAMEDA (AP) — While the Oakland Raiders stretched before the start of practice, a voice could be heard over the usual musical soundtrack on the loudspeaker.
It was Al Pacino in the role of coach Tony D’Amato in the 1990s film “Any Given Sunday” giving his famous “inch by inch” speech before a playoff game.
In it, Pacino talks of the team sticking together and fighting for every inch because the margin of error in any game is so small.
It was an apt message for a team that has opened the season with nine straight losses and has dropped 15 in a row dating back almost a year.
The architect of the message was receiver Brice Butler, who also picks the team’s music through his self-created alter ego “DJ Duffle Bag.”
“Duffle Bag last night was thinking about something that could get the guys minds off things,” Butler said Thursday.
“I just thought about ‘Any Given Sunday’ and Al Pacino. Duffle Bag liked that. Duffle Bag put it together and went to see Brice Butler.”
On Wednesday, Butler used music as his inspiration, playing songs such as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”
The speech wasn’t universally praised as some players found it more of a downer than an inspiration.
“That did the reverse effect for me,” defensive lineman Antonio Smith said. “It was depressing. I remember that movie. They had to bring that up.”
While interim coach Tony Sparano doesn’t always agree with the musical selections his young players make, he does like the fact they are seeking deeper meaning.
“I wish I did have some control of the music to be quite honest with you,” Sparano said. “That is one of our players who picks those things. It’s kind of nice he picked something with a message. I don’t have anything to do with that. If I did, we’d be listening to Frank Sinatra.”
Butler said Sinatra could join the rotation later this year if he can find a hipper version of one of the songs.
Sparano has used his own motivational ploys since taking over from the fired Dennis Allen after Oakland’s 0-4 start. Before his first practice as interim coach, Sparano had the team bury a football as a symbol of putting those first four games in the past. He also tinkered with the practice schedule and moved players around in the locker room to create a different vibe.
The Raiders played their best game of the season in Sparano’s first game before losing 31-28 at home to San Diego. Four more losses have followed, including a lackluster 41-17 defeat at home to Denver last week, extending Oakland’s losing streak to 15 games.
“Every season doesn’t go the way you planned it,” receiver James Jones said. “You have obstacles that you have to overcome every season. Some seasons are better than others; this season we’re in a dogfight.
“We understand that and the only people that are going to change that is us. We have to climb our way out of it. We have to scratch, we have to claw, we have to do whatever we have to do to go out there and get a win.”
NOTES: CB DJ Hayden (groin), RT Menelik Watson (concussion) and FB Jamize Olawale (shoulder, hamstring) returned to practice. ... CB TJ Carrie (ankle) did not practice after being on the field on a limited basis Wednesday. ... DE Justin Tuck (neck), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) G Gabe Jackson (knee) and TE David Ausberry (foot) also did not practice.