Last Monday, as we all know, NFL owners overwhelmingly threw their support behind the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas in a 31-1 vote. Now, just over a week later, the dust has settled, but that doesn’t mean fans in or near Oakland have come to terms with their beloved NFL franchise being unceremoniously pulled from under them. Again.
Since the announcement, the Raiders’ front office has been engaged in a PR campaign that paints a picture of widespread fan satisfaction over the move. In truth, the reaction has been far more dichotomous, with many angry fans taking to social media to voice their frustration.
No one will be able to completely relate to emotions that Bay Area residents will experience over the next few years as the transition takes place. Many Oaklanders have already declared that the Raiders have “lost them forever,” according to CBS Sacramento. This is entirely understandable, especially as many of these fans have already gone through the teams relocation once before.
Though fans anger and frustration is valid, turning away from the team now may not bring them the peace of mind or resolution they seek. Raiders fans have remained amongst the most loyal and supportive group in the NFL despite a brutal stretch for the team and I believe they owe it to themselves to stick with the players that don the Silver and Black, even if the owners and their city have left them high and dry.
1) After a decade of suffering through mediocrity, the team is finally a contender
Before last year’s 12-4 season, the Raiders hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. The team’s record over those 13 non-winning seasons was 63-145. Several unsuccessful coaching tenures coupled with countless terrible draft choices culminated in the franchise’s biggest all time gaffe—taking JaMarcus Russell with the 1st-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft that included Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Willis and Adrian Peterson.
Now that the franchise has an able architect in Reggie McKenzie, a proven leader in Jack Del Rio and a trio of young talent in Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, Raiders’ fans deserve to enjoy the team’s long awaited success.
2) The players themselves had no say in the team’s relocation
Raiders’ fans have a lot of targets with which to direct their anger. Mark Davis chose dollars and cents over loyalty. The City of Oakland only expressed their interest in keeping the franchise once it was clearly too late. The NFL showed very little resistance in relocating the league’s third franchise in the past two years.
One group that should harbor no blame whatsoever is the team’s players.
Derek Carr put his body on the line last season time and time again, front-flipping the team into a triumphant return to playoff contention. Carr and other Raiders’ players have represented Oakland in a sport that evokes all-out carnage and it doesn’t make sense to burn their jerseys for their role in a decision that they had no part in.
3) The taxpayers of Oakland dodged a $750-million bullet
It will come as little consolation for some Raiders fans—the tailgating, face painting, wear-spiky-shoulder-pads-to-the-game type—but forcing taxpayers to foot a $750-million bill for a football stadium is absolutely absurd. Whether fans love or hate Mayor Libby Schaaf after the fallout of the relocation announcement, she now has a much less obstructed budget with which to operate. This means more fund allocation for things like infrastructure and health care.
Unfortunately for the people of Oakland, Mark Davis simply didn’t have the deep pockets that Stan Kroenke had in securing private financing for the Rams’ Inglewood stadium. Such an arrangement might’ve been possible in Oakland if Davis did, or if he was willing to take on a potential silicon valley partner, but it’s not entirely incomprehensible that he wasn’t willing to do so, which would’ve lessened his grip on the team—even if Raiders’ fans will loathe him for it. His recent claim that he tried to make this happen in 2013 will likely fall on deaf ears at this point.
At the end of the day, in the world that exists outside of football, the city of Oakland and its citizens might not be worse off for saving themselves $750-million. It’s just one caveat, but it is an important one.
4) All of America knows that the Raiders will always be Oakland’s team
In the NFL, only a handful of teams have transcended the middle and bottom tiers of the league and achieved legendary, folkloric status—the Patriots, Packers, Cowboys, 49ers, Bears, Steelers, and, unequivocally—the Mighty Oakland Raiders. People across the country understand that the Raiders’ fans have been robbed of their legendary franchise and that there was nothing that they could do about it.
So moving the team to Las Vegas, putting them in a shiny new stadium and calling them something different isn’t going to erode decades of history. John Madden being carried off the field after the teams ‘77 Super Bowl win. Rich Gannon’s MVP campaign at 37-years-old. Al Davis patrolling the sidelines for decades in his signature sunglasses. Just. Win. Baby.
The illustrious history that the team and its fans has shared is something that can’t be taken away, no matter what. It’s a bond between the warriors that don the Silver and Black and the fans that howled in the Coliseum year after year and no owner, league or incumbent city can break that bond.
Will you still support the team once they move to Las Vegas?
This poll is closed
Yes, but I’m not from Oakland