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Make it Go Away, Mommy

Halloween has come and gone, but there is still plenty to "be afraid" of if you pledge allegiance to the Silver & Black.  And while our dear owner has been likened to this guy, it seems the culprit for this unrelenting madness is a monster of a different breed. 

Hey, if Chicago Cub fans can blame a goat for a century of ineptitude, why can’t the Raider Nation pin these last five-plus seasons on the departure of a head coach whose very nickname is a source for horror?  

"Chucky’s Revenge", anyone?



Yeah, I know, if it weren’t for Al, Jon Gruden may still be here.  But don’t you think the Tampa Bay coach has taken this voodoo thing a little too far?  I mean, a 48-21 whipping over his former club in Super Bowl XXXVII wasn’t enough to satisfy his thirst for blood?  Turns out that was just the beginning, or if you prefer, a prequel of what was to transpire in Raider Land.


And let’s not forget that things were bleak enough before Davis hired Gruden to steer the ship in the right direction.  In their first three seasons since returning to Oakland, the Raiders were 19-29, including 5-13 within a division they once owned.  Even the magic of their own turf was gone; the team was just 10-14 at home, with six of those defeats at the hands of the hated Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs.  When you consider that the 1995 club started 8-2, Oakland went 11-27 after such a promising return.  Their 4-12 mark in 1997 was their worst since 1962, and coupled with a 7-9 record the year before, the Raiders posted consecutive losing seasons for only the second time in thirty-five years.


Then came Jon.  And while he was only able to break even the first two seasons (back-to-back 8-8 records) and still struggled within the AFC West (just 4-8), there was a sense of purpose, and a feeling that great things were around the corner.  Indeed.  In the next three years- the last one with Gruden gone to Tampa- the Raiders went 33-15 (18-6 at home, 13-5 against their bitterest rivals), culminating with a dominating performance in the AFC Championship Game against Tennessee.  Now these looked like our fathers’ Raiders.


We all know what happened next, and the ugliness has only intensified since that blackest of Sundays on January 26, 2003.  Remember that 4-12 season in ’97 when you had to go back more than three decades to find a worse Raider team?  Well, following the Curse of Chucky, the Pride and Poise boys (ha!) have surpassed four wins just one time in their last five seasons, bottoming out at 2-14 in 2006.  And they are right on pace to finish with a dozen losses again this year.


Oakland has played exactly 88 games since the day Rich Gannon played catch with the Tampa Bay defense, and its record is a god-awful 21-67.  14-30 at home.  7-37 on the road.  And- cover the kids’ ears while you read this- 5-28 against the AFC West (2-15 in their own stadium!)


OK, so maybe it’s a wee bit silly to conjure up some sort of hex scheme, although we all know how much Raider fans adore their conspiracy theories.  But the record speaks for itself.  (Actually the record doesn’t speak at all, hence the problem).  And beyond those 89 games in hell (counting that fateful Sunday in San Diego), yes beyond the wins and (mostly) losses, is how far this once-mighty franchise has fallen in nearly every facet of its operation.  (Hey, but our punter is pretty good!)  Dysfunctional doesn’t even scratch the surface of what has happened to the team we can’t stop loving.


And as the losses mount, and the scene becomes more surreal by the day second, you can’t help but look back to see where it all began.  More importantly, you can only wonder when- and how- this horror film will end.


At this rate, Chucky is going to pass up Freddy and Jason for sequels.  But in Raiderville, unlike in Hollywood, the next movie is actually scarier than the one before.


Much scarier.