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2003 Oakland Raiders: The Kings of Disappointment

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Y'all know the 2003 Oakland Raiders—aka the dumbest team in America. They cornered the market on diminishing hopes. They were the kings of disappointment, and now it is official. ESPN released a list, compiled by Sean McCormick of Football Outsiders, of the top 10 most disappointing teams of the past 25 years. And you know who is at the top. Jump over you are feeling brave or just a little too upbeat....

Individual players get old, but it's unusual to see an entire team grow old overnight. Then again, most teams don't open the season with a 38-year-old quarterback, receivers who are 37 and 41, a trio of over-30 running backs and an assortment of defenders pushing 40. The Raiders clawed their way to a 2-2 start, but they looked slow and brittle, and the precision in their offense was gone. Then the wheels came off, as Oakland lost eight of its next nine games on the way to a 4-12 finish. The downturn in performance was dramatic and across the board, with everything from run defense to pass rush to pass protection affected. The Raiders' pass offense DVOA declined 51.1 percentage points in 12 months. For a team built around the pass, it was a catastrophe. Oakland let go of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice at season's end, and Rich Gannon lasted only three games into 2004 before suffering a career-ending neck injury. The worst period in Raiders history had begun.

Ugh...that was painful season. But, you know what? It is not all that painful to read. As we have seen that "worst period in Raiders history" is over. This squad still has a lot to accomplish, but the culture of ineptitude, disaffection, apathy, desperation and bewilderment that began the moment Barret Robbins decided to go to Mexico has finally passed.