Raiders Football 101 workshop for women has great benefits | NevadaAppeal.com

Raiders Football 101 workshop for women has great benefits

Rhonda Costa-Landers

Learning the fundamentals of football in the NFL holds great advantages for women who want to know the hows and whys.

When the Oakland Raiders held their seventh annual “Football 101” workshop for women – also a fund-raiser for the Alta Bates Summit Foundation – more than 120 women got to be up close and personal with a few of the finest Raiders talking about those fundamentals on Tuesday at the Raiders’ team headquarters in Alameda, Calif.

“Thank you ladies, for helping out a worthwhile cause,” said Dawn Roberts, a marketing executive with the Raiders organization. Roberts has helped coordinate the event every year.

The foundation offers treatment for low-income women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The fund-raisers have earned more than $120,000 the first six years. Each workshop has been a sell-out.

Emceed by Renel Brooks-Moon, the voice of the San Francisco Giants and a hardcore Raiders fan, Brooks-Moon got the women started by chanting “Rai-ders” as she sauntered onto the stage.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” she said in response to a deafening chant.

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Raiders head coach Norv Turner took a break from working on Sunday’s game plan against the Denver Broncos to address the crowd.

“We started good, but we’ve not been so good the past couple of games,” Turner said of the team’s performance.

“But keep looking for good things, we’re going to keep growing. Those losses don’t change the excitement of Raiders football in my mind.”

With that, Director of Player Development Willie Brown, 1967-78 defensive back and 1984 Hall of Fame inductee also greeted the women and thanked them for continued support of the team and breast cancer awareness, as did former Pro-Bowler Lincoln Kennedy, who retired last season and now offers post-game commentary for the Raiders, as well as Morris Bradshaw, an executive with the team and former wide receiver for the Raiders from 1974-81.

First out for the Raiders to discuss special teams was wide receiver/kick returner Carlos Francis. Francis monitored a film clip against the Buffalo Bills and described the job of the front line, middle men and those who create a “wedge” for him to run through after receiving the ball.

“Right here, after these guys make a wedge, I hit the crease and run for my life,” Francis said. “Then, after you make a 35-, 40-yard return like I did here, you head to the sideline and talk trash.”

Francis is in his rookie season and was acquired in the fourth round of the draft out of Texas Tech.

Safety Stuart Schweigert, a rookie from Purdue University came out to talk about defense and how they are responsible for spotting run and pass plays and how to stop each of them.

“The defense looks at the stance of the offensive line,” Schweigert said. “If they’re all the way down, it’s a run play. If they’re like this (heads up, body at half-position), it’s a pass. The difference is, if they’re all the way down, it takes longer to stand up and protect the quarterback. So they start out at the half-position. When it’s a run, they need to stay low and push the defensive line back to try to let their runner get through.”

Schweigert explained his position at safety is to defend wide receivers and tight ends. The safety is positioned in the middle of the defensive field while the other safety is up to five yards behind him, in case a pass play goes deep.

“When that long-ball goes through for the offense, it’s usually me who has to hear about it because I let it happen,” Schweigert said. “Otherwise, I’m in there to break up the play.”

First-round draft pick Robert Gallery, a rookie offensive tackle from Iowa took command of the stage to speak about offense. It was not difficult to notice his 6-foot-7, 320-pound frame.

Gallery said NFL Draft Day was his greatest wish come true. He admitted he didn’t have a particular favorite team growing up in the Midwest, but is honored to play for the Silver and Black.

“The job of the offensive line is to keep the other guys away from our quarterback,” Gallery said. “Because if you turn around and find him on the ground, that is not a good thing. Someone’s got to answer for that.”

Gallery also described the role of each offensive lineman and where they are in relation to the quarterback. Gallery replaced Kennedy who retired after the 2003 season.

After the workshop, the women were given a tour of the weight/conditioning room, physical therapy area and the locker room.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Fish also spoke to the women, who explained the players have 14 weeks of workouts prior to the NFL season, which is another 17 weeks. He also advises players on diet and weight conditioning.

Attending the workshop from Carson City were: Cleo Costa, Leni Manning, Rhonda Costa-Landers, Nancie Pitts and Laura Hill. Costa, Manning, Pitts and Costa-Landers are members of the Carson City Raiders Booster Club.

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.