Former Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who got his start in Oakland as the offensive coordinator, has resurfaced in that role with the Bengals.
Only a day after getting the job, Jackson was talking publicly about his former pupil.
“You guys know how I feel about Darren McFadden; he’s still one of my favorite players,” Jackson told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco on Friday, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “What a tremendous talent. But I really like my little guy Gio [Bernard]. He had a real good season. But I don’t think you can ever have too many good backs.”
The Bengals acquired Bernard with one of the draft picks that Jackson sent to Cincinnati for quarterback Carson Palmer. Now, the Raiders could try to get a draft pick or two from the Bengals based on the argument that Jackson’s comments amount to tampering.
“Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy,” the league’s Anti-Tampering Policy states. Jackson’s statement could be viewed as a violation — especially if the Raiders could supplement his public comments with proof of direct communications between Jackson and McFadden in which Jackson directly or indirectly suggests that the Bengals could be interested in signing McFadden.
“I would have to be around him again but I think it’s still no different with Darren,” Jackson said. “Darren is still a downhill runner, he’s a one-cut runner. He has the ability to split out and catch balls and do those things but I think, with any football player, you’ve just got to build their confidence and let them know you believe in them and create an environment for them to be as good as they can be and normally good things happen. And I don’t think it’s any different with him.
“Somebody’s going to get a really good football player here in the future if he doesn’t stay there in Oakland and I just wish him the best.”
The damage to the Raiders comes from the possibility that, as McFadden and his agent eventually ponder Oakland’s pre-free agency best offer, they’ll have knowledge regarding the contents hiding behind Door No. 2. Even if the Raiders don’t want McFadden, they hold his exclusive negotiating rights until March 8. No other team is permitted from suggesting that it has an interest in McFadden before then.
Even if the Raiders don’t allege that Jackson’s comments amount to tampering, he was dancing too close to the line. That kind of candor could make it harder to Jackson to become a head coach again, and to keep the job if/when he gets it.