Despite the Mixed Emotions, Lott Is Still a Raider at Heart : Pro football: Jet defensive back takes shots at former team, but has fond memories as he prepares for Sunday's game at Coliseum.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

New York Jet defensive back Ronnie Lott, often called the hardest hitter in football, took shots at his former club, the Raiders, on Wednesday.

Specifically, he didn't like:

--The treatment of running back Marcus Allen.

--The performance of quarterback Jay Schroeder.

--And the style of defensive backfield coach Jack Stanton.

So Lott is glad to be out of here, right?

Not exactly.

He returns to face his former teammates at the Coliseum on Sunday with a lot of good feelings as well.

His respect for Coach Art Shell remains intact as does Lott's positive feeling about wearing the silver and black, perhaps for eternity. Should he be fortunate enough to be voted into the Hall of Fame some day, Lott told Newsday on Tuesday, he might like it to be as a Raider.

After a decade in San Francisco that included four Super Bowl victories and eight of his nine Pro Bowl selections, Lott figured he was coming home to Los Angeles, where he was an All-American at USC, to finish his career.

But by his second season as a Raider, some things had soured.

Allen, his close friend and fellow Trojan, was being used only as a third-down and short-yardage back. Allen said publicly that his lack of work was linked to his longtime feud with owner Al Davis.

"I wanted to win," Lott said, "and I felt like, at the time, we weren't playing our best back.

"As a player, you question that, but every player questions every move that happens."

Was Allen's treatment a factor in Lott's decision to leave?

"It enters into your mind," Lott said, "because he's a great friend and you just have a certain respect for him.

"It (the Davis-Allen feud) created a situation where it was tough to concentrate, but also, at the same time, when we were 0-4, Marcus was the person that stepped up. He was the only guy who really tried to create a situation where we'd get a win."

Schroeder's inconsistency at quarterback (11 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions) was also difficult for Lott.

"It was frustrating because I felt we lost some games because of the quarterback situation," Lott said. "I felt that we lost some games because we weren't playing our best players. You feel like you could win just about any game and yet we were behind before the games got started. . . . I mean Jay's just an OK guy and you've got a quarterback (Jeff Hostetler) now."

But Lott had his own problems on defense with Stanton.

"It seemed like we always had conflicts," Lott said. "It just didn't seem like he approved of some of the things I did. It was tough at times trying to communicate with him. . . . It was a struggle."

When Lott's comments were passed on to Stanton, the 31-year veteran of the coaching fraternity responded by saying of Lott: "I respect him as a player. I think he showed great toughness and always gave 100%.

"Maybe he was a little oversensitive. He did a lot of things I really liked. He worked very hard. He tried to improve every day in practice, which a lot of players don't do. They just (try to) get through. . . . He wasn't that way.

"Now we didn't always agree on all the techniques each of us wanted to use, but you're going to have that as long as you have an instructor and a guy receiving (instruction) who has a lot of experience and success. . . . I think sometimes we were both bullheaded."

Shell wanted no part of the controversy.

"I don't want to get involved," Shell said. "Every player can't get along with his coach. That's the nature of the game. You don't have to get along with everybody to perform. . . . You perform because you want to do it and because it's your job."

A year ago, Stanton got into a dispute with Elvis Patterson that resulted in Patterson body-slamming the coach.

When Lott became a free agent in the off-season, he looked around. There were rumors that he'd return to San Francisco, but he discounted that talk Wednesday.

"That was the furthest thing from my mind," he said, still feeling underappreciated in San Francisco. "I'm a football player. I'm not going to go there to take a couple of laps around the stadium and wave my hand and that's the kind of thing I felt was going to happen there."

But even though he headed east, he left his heart in Los Angeles rather than San Francisco, troubles and all.

"I was going to finish my career there," he told Newsday, "and possibly go into the Hall wearing silver and black. That's still a possibility."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
56°