A Raider official, who requested that his name be withheld, said Monday the club has been told it will get "a favorable ruling" from the Navy, freeing Napoleon McCallum to practice full time and play football while remaining on active duty.
Raider Coach Tom Flores, heretofore noncommittal, said he was told the same thing "by a source."
"We were told a decision would be made by (today)," Flores said. "In the service, there is always proper procedure. I think they want another day or two to think it over."
Was his understanding that McCallum will be made fully available?
"I hope so," Flores said. "Full availability, that's what I hope."
The Washington Post, quoting unnamed Navy officials, reported that Secretary of the Navy John Lehman will make no decision until consulting the uniformed heads of the services, Admiral Carlyle A.H. Trost, chief of naval operations, and Gen. P.X. Kelley, the Marine commandant.
The Post reported that an option paper detailing various alternatives for McCallum has been circulating at the Pentagon but didn't reach top Navy officials. Instead, it was preempted by Lehman's decision to consult the uniformed heads.
A decision to allow McCallum to play this season would have dramatic ramifications for several parties, such as:
--The Raiders. Assuming McCallum would be finished after his 30 days of summer leave, they barely worked him at halfback. He had only two carries in the two exhibitions--for 15 yards.
If he does come back, he'll be busier. Raider officials give him a good chance of moving right up to No. 2 halfback, behind Marcus Allen.
--David Robinson. Not to mention a lot of bad NBA teams. Robinson, the 6-11 Navy center who is about to enter his senior year at the Naval Academy is the consensus best college player in the country. If the Navy makes McCallum available to the Raiders, it presumably would be prepared to make Robinson available to the NBA.
Robinson has an even more compelling reason for being loaned out. At 6-11, he is considered too tall for sea duty.
"As for the Navy getting something out of me," Robinson recently told the Post, "I think it's getting more (if he plays pro basketball) than it would if I was sitting behind some desk somewhere, with nobody thinking about me. I'm positive publicity for the Navy."
Not everybody is going to be celebrating.
The other 27 NFL owners are going to be cursing Al Davis once more.
Davis drafted McCallum, one of the nation's top-rated runners, with his third pick in the fourth round.
A Raider official suggested that Davis made himself available during the NBC telecast of the Raider-Cowboy exhibition so that he might mention on the air that the Raiders needed McCallum full time to keep him on the roster. Was this a signal to any wayward admirals that the two-days-a-week option wouldn't do?
The Atlanta Falcons' Eddie Meyers may have mixed feelings. Another Navy running back, he is completing his fifth training camp with the Falcons. He always had to go back after his 30 days.
McCallum returned three punts Saturday night, went home Sunday and was originally scheduled to report to the local Navy recruiting office Monday.
He was to report to the amphibious ship Peleliu today. If he turns up here, instead, the Raiders will take it as a good sign.
Raider Notes Marc Wilson sprained his right wrist in Saturday's exhibition. Coach Tom Flores said that if it stays sore, Wilson may play less against the New England Patriots Friday night. . . Other injuries: Cliff Branch pulled a hamstring in Saturday's warmups and was to have it X-rayed to see if it's torn. This is expected to prompt his retirement. Mike Davis' knee, which underwent arthroscopic surgery last season, is sore, and he stayed out of practice . . . The Raiders cut guard Kevin Belcher, who was on injured reserve last year; No. 8 draft pick Joe Mauntel, and No. 11 choice Randell Webster, along with free-agent kickers Kevin Potter and Scott Livingston. Cal State Long Beach halfback Martin Sartin went on injured reserve along with tight end Gene Branton and safety Gardner Williams.