Once more, as in the early days under John Madden, there is a curiosity as to how closely Al Davis gets involved in the Oakland Raiders' short-range tactics and overall strategy, if at all.
The question was put to Don Coryell of the San Diego Chargers, obliquely. Whom does Coryell study when he prepares to play the Raiders, Davis or Tom Flores?
"I believe, I assume, Flores is the coach. I may be wrong. I assumed the same with Madden. Last week, when we looked at the films of the Raiders against Cleveland, not once did Flores' -- or Davis' -- name come up."
Flores didn't have to field a question about the extent of his authority as coach under Davis, the general managing partner.
Someone did ask Flores if he enjoyed "the side show" of the controversy between Davis and Charger owner Gene Klein the last couple days.
"All I know is that my boss (Davis) wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the team's chances of winning on Sunday. Maybe Klein is a little nervous from being in the AFC championship game for the first time in 15 years," Flores said.
The one-time quarterback of the Raiders sounded like his own man when he opened his news conference by saying: "First, I'm excited as hell to be here in only my second year as head coach. I'm overwhelmed, since we were picked to win only four or five games this season."
He called the playing conditions in Cleveland on Sunday "atrocious" and said the Raiders would have beaten the Browns by a bigger score than 14-12 if the field had been in good shape.
Coryell said, "This is a new experience to get this far," but "I don't see any pressure on our team. The players are acting just as they did before. Everyone is laughing and relaxed."
That matched the sentiment John Jefferson expressed earlier today.
Jefferson, the acrobat who doubles as a wide receiver for the Chargers, said the mood of his team is "sort of relaxed." And, unless he is a consummate actor, he was a good example of how his teammates are approaching the game.
Asked if he thought the Raiders had wet the field when the Chargers played in Oakland this season, he said, smiling broadly: "It was pretty slippery. I know it didn't rain."
Kellen Winslow, asked if the Chargers had signed anyone to replace injured fellow tight end Gregg McCrary, replied, "We just converted a couple offensive tackles," quickly adding, "I am just kidding."
Winslow, who often is split wide, lining up in a slot or even as a wing back, said, "I think I have changed the concept of what a tight end can be. I didn't play football until my senior year in high school. I didn't even know what a tight end was. I quit football as a sophomore; I became disenchanted with two-a-day workouts. I still am."
How does he grade out as a blocker?
"I get the job done," he said. "I don't knock anybody down or kill anyone, though I am about 240 pounds. You don't have to do that anymore."
Can the Raiders stop San Diego's passing game, now that the Chargers will be unable to use two tight ends (McCrary is out with a back injury)?
"San Diego's passing can be stopped only be San Diego," Winslow said. "We'll use an offensive tackle for double-tight end situations. If I went down (from an injury), we would bring in another wide receiver or a running back." He added that no running backs were being used at tight end this week.
Winslow said he patterned himself after Jackie Smith, the retired St. Louis Cardinals tight end, "because he was the first who was big and fast. He was my idol."
Quarterback Dan Fouts said Winslow was catching 40 percent of his passes against nickel (five-man) defenses. Other teams usually take out their tight end and bring in a third wide receiver in those situations.
The Raiders' best weapon against the pass is Lester Hayes, the cornerback who has 17 interceptions.