There has been a boatload of debate concerning many different topics; The hiring and job performance of Reggie McKenzie, the firing of Hue Jackson and replacing him with Dennis Allen, Reggie allowing DA to hire Greg Knapp, the PBS vs the ZBS, Pryor vs Palmer, and the latest of the debates revolving around the hiring of Greg Olson. The only thing we all agree on is the firing of Greg Knapp and that we want the Raiders to win.
Since we do agree on Knapp being fired and we definitely also all agree that we want the Raiders to win it is possible that we can agree at times. However, we must find what possibly may be the real question or concerns that divide us when speaking of the new direction the Raiders are heading. There could be an underlining cause of all those heated debates that is separating the Raider Nation like almost never before and it is important to find it.
Have you ever noticed when someone comments their opinion about one of these possible concerns that there is often an extremist position that members take? There is even an over abundance of phrases like hater, quit whining (moaning or bitching of course often replace the word whining there) and of course the ever popular STFU! I'm not singling anybody out here, its just a reference to a few phrases that have become the norm when discussing the issues I want to speak of.
I know we enjoy some bickering but when you notice many S&BP members bashing each other completely out of character you start seeing a trend that could be leading us to some sort of civil war amongst Raiders fans. At some point you have to stop and ponder what is really going on here. We can't be this divided about all of these issues without something much bigger driving our emotions.
To give us a better idea of what may be causing this divide I find it important to look back at the development of the Raiders franchise and their image. Since the 60's there have been many smaller identity changes that have happened to the Raiders and its important to look back at them:
Early 60's: The "Pirate" image, and the "Silver & Black" was created by Al Davis as the symbol for the franchise.
Late 60's: The "Mad Bomber" leads a team of smash-mouth bullies that played just slightly out of control creating the start of the Raiders on field personalty.
1982 --The move to Los Angeles: Now this was a major change in image, not in the way the team played, but rather the image of a Raider Jersey on the street. A more vicious side of the fanbase is introduced to the world. Some schools even banned Raiders gear because they had become associated with LA gangs.
This was probably the first time that many Raider fans found themselves being thought of as criminals specifically because of their Raiders fanhood. Since a Pirate image is also in a way a criminal image, some fans embraced this new persona of criminality. Some fans fled to other teams due to not wanting to be affiliated with that image, and some of us just said "whatever" and "to each there own".
1995 -- The move back to Oakland: A new image begins to form, basically overriding the gang affiliation image although some of that gang image lingers to this day. This new image is the "Black Hole" image. A bunch that is wild and crazy, dressed up somewhere between Mad Max and Pirates of the Caribbean. Whether you like it or not, no Raider fan can honestly say that this group doesn't love their Raiders.
When Jon Gruden showed up on the scene a few years after the move back to Oakland all Raider fans whether "Blue Collar" or "White Collar" became united. Between Gruden & the Black Hole there seemed to be something for each demographic to hold onto and agree that this was what "The Raider Way" was all about, "Diversified and Unified." Also, a lot of youthful fans embraced the "Chucky" image as it depicted Grudens facial expressions, and his tough & nasty attitude during game time, and was a mainstay of the Raiders true identity.
With Al in his final years (RIP) we never lost our identity, just a lot of respect from our peers. This in large part was because Al kept tight control of his pirate ship. Maybe he was the figure of the Raiders for so long that he didn't want to embrace the idea that his beloved team would one day be without him. It was too late for AL to train a replacement because his football genius even as old as he was he was still better than most.
Al Davis at least always felt his actions were in the best interest of the Raiders. Which brings us to today's topic:
What does the new Raiders era mean to you?
I believe that we all are facing a Raiders identity crises if we don't come up with some sort of compromise about how far is acceptable. What changes are we willing to agree need to be made and what changes must both sides compromise for the good of the fanbase? To be honest, this is the first real call out I've seen on what could be the biggest image change "The Raider Way" has ever had and therefore we haven't seemed to bring this topic to light yet.
Before the season started I did a post on which Raider era/decade everyone became a Raider fan in, and surprisingly it turned out pretty equal. I will just assume for our sake that we have parity amongst all ages since an age group doesn't automatically symbolize an agreement in philosophies. This may prove to be a much more complicated and complex effort than anyone could have foreseen so please bare with me as I pioneer through this process.
A lot of what we have seen over the last 10 "tears" has prompted an assorted amount of remarks, suggestions, accusations, and outright judgements towards the Raiders organization in general. To make it even worse this mutiny of the old ways have come from every graphic of the fanbase. Bay area fans, out of area fans, new fans, old fans, other team's fans, our ex and present players, and last but certainly not least the mediots. All of those demographics have some people clamoring for this "New Era" amongst them and turning their backs on the ways of Al Davis.
As a matter of fact there has been so much talk about "The New Direction" of the Raiders that you would have thought that someone somewhere might have thought to ask us Raider fans what we thought. Since nobody seemed to have asked that yet I feel the need to ask it myself.
The funny thing is I never once heard Al Davis talk about considering any need to change. Maybe I didn't hear about it or maybe I wasn't listening, or just maybe he honestly felt that it didn't need changing. Perhaps he just thought we needed better leaders that understood "The Raider Way" but failed to manage to find those needed leaders before he passed on.
In any case I'm beginning to get the feeling that a lot of people have wanted wholesale changes to happen to the Raiders image and standards for awhile now. What I personally believe is behind that desire doesn't matter, but what does matter is whether it was the majority of Raiders fans that wanted this change. I believe Raider Nation deserves to know whether or not it was the core of the Raider fan base that wanted this new era or not.
Did we collectively express our need for a complete makeover, a wholesale change in the way we play ball, and a cleaner image? If so, is it really what the fan base wants or is it just because we're having a tough run of mediocre years? It could be that some are taking advantage of the void of power and coercing an unsure Mark Davis that it is the best thing for the Raiders, even if it isn't.
The most annoying stance to me is when people say that the only way to bring the Raiders back up to an elite team level again is to change the way the Raiders do things. The Raiders never changed the ways they did things under Al because that was who they were as their identity, and I don't understand how that way is now suddenly not good enough for some fans. It is completely foreign to me because the way that Raiders did things is the reason I became a fan of theirs to begin with and when done right is definitely adaptable to the new age of the NFL.
These suggestions might sound good to some but not to me. I don't care if its somebody saying it to me elequently in person, blogging it with their computers, or the damn Mediots saying it. To me it all sounds wrong and skirts the lines of blasphemy. I'm pretty sure that after witnessing some of the most boring play we ever watched our Raiders play, it doesn't really look that good in reality either if your being honest to yourself.
The highlight of the year for me was Tommy Kelly brawling with Andrew Whitworth of the Bengals. That was the closest the team came all year to showing there was still part of "The Raider Way" left that made me care so passionately for this franchise. The Raiders under Al Davis were the team that would punch you in the mouth and laugh about it, and at least Kelly still embraces that.
The "New Era" to me means disregarding the history this franchise was built on to fit what others believe the NFL should be today. The Raiders are not the Patriots, the Packers, or the damn Niners, and to me they never should build their team in the mold of any of those teams. What does the "New Era" mean to you? If you disagree is there a medium ground that we can come to in compromise?
I humbly ask the fans out side Raider Nation to not vote for obvious reasons. However, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments..Thank You
Note to S&BP members*
Since there is no way to exclude all votes from outside Raider Nation, and I feel it is important that Raider Nation S&BP members know what our sentiment is alone, could you just A or B in the comments (without judgement) so we can at least tally up S&BP sentiment also. Neither one is right or wrong, it just says which way each of us might be leaning towards about all the changes being made right now.
Marcus Krause edited.