When I think of the Raider slogans I do not think of "Just Win Baby" first. I always have and always will think of "A Commitment to Excellence" first and foremost. It is my favorite slogan in all of sports for its simple yet eloquent idea. Its all good and well to win anyway possible, win big or win small, win pretty or win ugly. I don't care how it happens so I completely agree with "Just Win Baby", but it just is not as poetic and beautiful as "A Commitment to Excellence".
Being committed to excellence is what every one of us should strive for. If you try for excellence every time and fall short, you still might end up being pretty good! What was missing throughout our entire time of toiling away in obscurity during the dark days was that commitment.
Players simply just did not care anymore in that era. They punched in their time cards and took their exorbitant paychecks home and never gave two cents about the Oakland Raiders and the man paying them. Not everybody I suppose but there were more bad apples than good for far too long.
Those times are gone now. We still have the bitter taste in our mouths but the days of Raider players not caring are over. The days of more criminals than upstanding citizens wearing Silver and Black are over as well. Our team recommitted ourselves to excellence, and that happened before the passing of Al Davis.
I love what Reggie is doing and he has taken it a step further, but it started again with the original true Raider Al Davis. Reggie would have started the overhaul either way because he believes that character is important, but the purging had already begun by the time he took the controls of our beloved franchise.
Al stopped caring only about winning when he decided to allow the release of Jamarcus Russell (who appropriately wore the number 2, being as he was a giant number 2). The moment he OK'd that decision was the moment we returned to "A Commitment to Excellence". It took a couple more years for the team to recommit to it too, but Al knew he had to get back to that idea before he left us.
Despite Ro-Dumbo's legal battles and DHB's unfortunate DUI arrest, our team really is becoming a team with top level character guys. Darrius himself is actually a great example of excellent character, even though he made a mistake that was just plain ignorant to make. The NFL has a free ride program so none of these players should ever get in the car and drive while having been drinking, but mistakes do happen.
I will forgive DHB a lot easier than a 250+ lb linebacker feeling he needs a gun to make a point. Seriously, your not big and intimidating enough already?
Every team is going to have players make mistakes though, no matter how high of character you incorporate into your team. No matter what you still are completing your team with humans, and humans make mistakes. There is no doubt in my mind that this team has more players devoted to family, religion and the team than I can ever remember. Reggie is making a point to go after mature men to add to our team.
The first step towards excellence is promoting it among your players and letting them know that it is what is expected of them. You need to hold them to a higher regard than what we had been for far too long of a time. Now we have strong willed coaches and a GM that understands that it is not just adding a lot of people that can run, but also people that are football players that love the game.
It is exciting times as a Raider fan and it is great to see us get back to that beautiful slogan. "A Commitment to Excellence" starts with each player's heart. We are now expecting maturity and intelligence from the players we decide to allow the privilege of wearing our Skull and Crossbones. It is a new time and a new way for the Raiders.
It is a renewed Commitment to Excellence with each and every player that makes our roster now needing to know that excellence is what we want from them. We are the Oakland Raiders and WE EXPECT EXCELLENCE from our players, our staff, and the Raider Nation as a whole. When we get back to that mind set then we can get back to winning.