By Ann Killion
November 03, 2009

The exit door is open once again at Raiders headquarters. The path out is greased for Tom Cable.

On Monday afternoon, the Raiders released a statement regarding the new crop of ugly allegations against Cable -- that he has a history of physical violence against women. And the gist of the statement is the Raiders might soon be on their seventh head coach in nine seasons.

Al Davis has fired coaches for far less. Usually, the losing record is enough. Cable has that, too -- his team lost in San Diego and heads into the bye week at 2-6.

But Cable also has disturbing charges of violence swirling around him. On the heels of the accusation that he broke the jaw of assistant coach Randy Hanson in a training camp incident in August comes a far more serious set of allegations. Cable's ex-wife and former girlfriend accuse him of hitting them in the past. Cable has admitted to hitting his ex-wife, though the details of the abuse differ, and he denied the other allegation.

It's one thing to have a physical altercation with another man in the testosterone-fueled world of the NFL. But it is a far different, far more disturbing thing to be a man who hits women. It's unacceptable to leave such a person in a position of leadership.

The Raiders acknowledged that by releasing a statement, complete with some Raiders-only bizarre twists. "Over the last few days, we learned of the allegations made against Coach Cable and we are, of course, aware of his response thereto," the Raiders stated. "In conjunction with the League office, we will undertake a serious evaluation of this matter.

"We wish to be clear that we do not in any way condone or accept actions such as those alleged.

"There have been occasions on which we have dismissed Raider employees for having engaged in inappropriate conduct. For reasons of privacy, we kept the basis for those dismissals confidential. We endured public opprobrium for the dismissals, all the while knowing our basis for them was appropriate."

That last point was the required bit of Raiders paranoia and defiance, as was an additional statement released by the team questioning the motives of the news source.

You can't have it both ways: taking the charges seriously and accusing the news source of disseminating lies and innuendos, especially when two women were willing to be interviewed on camera. But the overall message is clear: Cable is on very shaky ground.

During last season's bye week Lane Kiffin was spectacularly fired. His transgression, besides losing, was being insubordinate. Cable is not insubordinate -- he can spout platitudes about the Silver and Black with the best of them. However, the former offensive line coach may have a past that is unacceptable.

When Davis -- at his infamous Kiffin-firing press conference -- was about to announce Cable as the replacement, he leaned over and asked someone else for some background on Cable. The microphone picked up Davis saying, "I don't know that much about him."

No one did. He wasn't vetted for the job. Cable was an anonymous football lifer who stumbled into a head coaching job because of the weirdness of the Raiders situation. A year later, he's a public pariah. Whether all the charges are true or not, the damage to his reputation is done.

First, a subordinate alleged that Cable assaulted him. Though the D.A. didn't think he had enough evidence to bring a case, it's clear something happened in a meeting room that left Hanson with a fractured jaw.

Hanson is pursuing a civil lawsuit against Cable, which likely has a connection to the new accusations. Hanson's lawyers will want to prove Cable has a pattern of violent behavior. Two women from his past say he does.

One, his first wife, Sandy, said Cable hit her 22 years ago. Cable admitted he did, saying he "slapped her with an open hand" after learning she had committed adultery. Sandy Cable quickly released another statement saying there was no adultery and that he punched her with a fist.

Cable's former girlfriend Marie Lutz said last January he hit her when she came, uninvited, to his house and found Cable with another woman. Cable denies that charge.

Cable's second wife cited physical abuse in her divorce papers, but contradicted that statement through her attorney.

It's all very ugly. And the league is right to investigate the charges. The NFL addresses the issue of domestic violence annually in sessions with its players. Sheriff Roger Goodell can't very well look the other way if a head coach has a history of physical abuse. The league can't perpetuate an image that it tacitly endorses violence against women.

The Raiders may do the right thing and fire Cable for cause, even before a league investigation is concluded. If so, before Davis hires his seventh head coach since 2001, he might want to do some background research.

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