While Falcons rebuild, Raiders remain in turmoil

OAKLAND, Calif. - DeAngelo Hall is quickly becoming an old pro at handling off-field turmoil in the NFL.

After dealing with the Michael Vick dogfighting case and coach Bobby Petrino's in-season departure last year in Atlanta, Hall has been front and center for the circus that has been the Oakland Raiders this year.

When owner Al Davis fired coach Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30 in a lengthy news conference that featured an overhead projector and the detailing of the friction inside the franchise, Hall was the only player to watch it in person.

Even though it was a day off for players, Hall stood in the back of the room listening to what Davis had to say. Despite all the allegations of lying and insubordination, Hall said the situation in Oakland pales in comparison to what he went through with the Falcons.

'I don't liken this situation to anything that happened in Atlanta,' Hall said. 'Atlanta was a whole different kind of beast. This is relatively on smooth street right here compared to what we went through down there.'

That's more of a reflection of how dysfunctional things were in Atlanta last year than any smoothness in Oakland this year.

Hall gets the chance to see his rebuilt old team take on his struggling new one today when the Falcons (4-3) visit the Raiders (2-5).

'Football is fun again for those guys and the schemes are player friendly,' Hall said of his former teammates.

That's a big change from last season. The madness started when Vick, the franchise quarterback known for his ability to escape all sorts of trouble on the field, was caught up in a federal dogfighting investigation that he eventually pleaded guilty to, sending him to prison.

Then with three games left in his first season as coach, Petrino rushed out of town to take a college job at Arkansas, leaving his former players to call him a 'quitter' and a 'coward.'

That's what makes this season's turnaround in Atlanta so remarkable. The Falcons have already matched last season's win total as general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith have pulled off an amazing overhaul.

Hall's wish for a trade was granted when he was sent to Oakland in the offseason for a draft pick. The team also signed free agent running back Michael Turner, who is third in the NFL in rushing, and drafted quarterback Matt Ryan, who has been especially impressive as a rookie.

SideBar: Falcons at Raiders

When: Today, 4:15 p.m.

Where: Oakland

TV: Fox