ALAMEDA (CBS / AP) — Nearly all NFL coaches and players have some sort of ritual they go through before games, whether it’s wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music or eating the same meal.
Hue Jackson treats himself to a pedicure and manicure.
The Oakland Raiders coach has been following the same routine for several years now, but it only became public Friday when photos of Jackson’s pre-game ritual appeared in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine.
First, his players found out about it and jokingly ribbed their coach. Then it was reporters who had their turn, presenting a laughing Jackson with a copy of the magazine during his daily meeting with the media.
“I have taken it today,” Jackson said. “That got out pretty fast. The whole team busted my chops.”
If the Raiders, coming off back-to-back blowout losses, are feeling any pressure, they’re sure not showing it and neither is Jackson.
Oakland is one game behind Denver in the AFC West after seemingly being in control of the division three weeks ago.
But the Broncos have continued to roll behind quarterback Tim Tebow while the Raiders followed their season-high three-game winning streak with consecutive lopsided losses to Miami and Green Bay.
Injuries and a lack of consistency on both sides of the ball have played a big role in Oakland’s fall.
The Raiders offense got a bit of a boost this week with the return of rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore, who had missed three games with a foot injury. But they’re still without running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver Jacoby Ford, who were both ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Lions.
It’s the seventh consecutive game McFadden will miss due to a lingering mid-foot sprain, while Ford will sit out his fifth straight.
Moore, who is third on the team with 24 receptions and is averaging 17.1 yards a catch, was limited in practice Friday but is expected to play.
“It helps because obviously he’s a playmaker and he knows how to make plays and can make plays,” Jackson said. “It gives you another weapon that you haven’t had at your disposal. It helps, but by no stretch of the imagination is he going to be the key to winning the game by himself.”
A win Sunday against Detroit would be Oakland’s eighth of the season, matching its total from a year ago. It would also stop the Raiders’ recent slide and keep them in the playoff hunt in the AFC.
Oakland hasn’t won more than two games in December since winning the AFC championship in 2002 and is 9-28 in the final month of the year over the past eight-plus seasons.
The Raiders are already 0-2 this December, prompting talk that they may be crumbling under the pressure.
Jackson’s photos in ESPN The Magazine proved that at least the coach is staying calm—and clean. The pictures, taken Nov. 26 on the day before Oakland hosted the Chicago Bears, show a relaxed Jackson getting a manicure and pedicure while wearing a Raiders sweatshirt.
“Team building, that’s what that was for,” Jackson joked. “It was unfortunate they got me at that time. It will never happen again.”
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)