Sticking to the Script versus the Chargers + One Last Goodbye/Homecoming

The Oakland Raiders have to beat the Chargers this week. There is not much to play for this week for either team as both AFC West teams are virtually eliminated from the playoffs. You might even argue that a win here would hurt the team’s draft pick.

However, the Raiders are still a young team. They got to teach their young players that you beat those Bolts and the AFC West no matter what. That is what Raiders fans want, because we hate those long-time rivals. It is also a message that makes business sense if the Raiders want to build a contending culture.

Think about the Pats. They make the playoffs every year partly because their division has been so bad.

Speaking of scripts, we know how this game goes. Chargers special teams or Philip Rivers makes an error that costs the Chargers the game. The Raiders just need to keep themselves in the game so they can capitalize on that error, whatever it is.

That will be challenging with Jacobs and a couple of starting offensive linemen missing the game. That’s why we will once again turn to Derek Carr. The past couple of weeks showed us Carr is not our only hope. However, it is not all his fault.

We also got to see the coaching step up. The Raiders have been so bad in the second half and part of that is coaching. You must adapt and make adjustments or you will get your chain snatched.

One More Awkward Goodbye

Not to mention, this homecoming and a goodbye. The Raiders played an era in Los Angeles. They almost built a stadium where the Rams are building a stadium. They almost linked up with the Chargers to build a stadium. They won a Super Bowl in the Rose Bowl. They reportedly sold 10 percent of their tickets in Vegas too.

“We were born in Oakland, and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said by phone this week per the L.A. Times. “But there were some great years in Los Angeles that will also be part of our DNA, and we’ll never forget that.”

Davis also talked about what he learned from the L.A. Raiders and their efforts to relocate:

“I learned a big lesson in L.A. when we were there the last time,” said Mark Davis, in a column this week about the Raiders return. “I was ready to return because I understood the difference of how we approached it when ‘Just win, baby’ was good enough.

I get that Davis is saying it isn’t enough to just show up in a new market and say we’re the NFL team, we’re winning and please support us.

However, Davis is omitting what his fan base wants most. That is winning.

It is not called a commitment to mediocrity or just stan baby. Raiders fans have always been about winning, whether you’re a Panther or Hell’s Angel. Black or White, Raiders Nation always been about winning.

We are all desperate for success, especially in our modern era of draft busts, stadium rumors and coaching mediocrity. It’s been almost twenty years. This decade is going down with the 90s as the only two eras the Raiders did not make a Super Bowl. Damn.

So the Raiders got to do right by L.A. by closing it out with a win even if they couldn’t do that in Oakland. Here is a few exerts from my op-ed which tied Southern California Raiders fans to their neighbors in the Bay.

We all are sad and feel for Oakland because we know what it is like to watch them leave, we know what it is like for the NFL to ignore us even though we did nothing right and we know what it is like to be in a market without the NFL. Here it is modified to just the blog and opinion part:

Oakland is Home Even For L.A. Raiders Fans

Raiders fans in Oakland aren’t the only ones sad about the Silver and Black leaving their home in the East Bay. Fans from neighboring Southern California know what it is like to lose the Raiders too.

Since the Vegas rumors emerged I’ve taken the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland here and on various blogs. Yet, I’ve always tried to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders. 

Why do so many people across my region follow a team that hasn’t given them a real reason to in almost two decades?

More importantly, would this community follow a team that broke their heart to another new frontier when they have other NFL options, the Chargers and Rams, in closer proximity? 

Oakland is Home

The Oakland Raiders played their final home game in the East Bay on Sunday. It was the day we were dreading since the Silver and Black announced their future plans for Las Vegas a few years ago. 

An already sad occasion got worse when the team lost in the final seconds to a playoff irrelevant Jaguars team. Fans booed, threw trash and showed their disdain for a garbage product that has the audacity to leave them for greener pastures. 

There is no doubt the East Bay will miss the Raiders the most. I’ve always said Oakland is Mecca for Raider Nation. That won’t change. 

Oakland paid for that team to return from L.A. in the 90s and they are still paying for it. The city inspired the team’s names, color and attitude. That community supported the Raiders through their worst decade ever, the 2010s, despite all the constant relocation rumors. 

However, the team leaving their home will be felt throughout Raiders fans, including those fans in the team’s former place of residence, Los Angeles. Oakland is the foundation. 

Since the Vegas rumors emerged I’ve taken the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland here and on various blogs. Still, I’ve always tried to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders and how the presence of two NFL teams, not the Raiders, changes their lives. 

Most of the marketing about the Vegas Raiders surrounds its proximity to both the Bay Area and Southern California. In fact, the stadium’s name rights owner Allegiant Airlines plans for major promotions in those markets to get fans too Raiders games. Vegas is even closer to for Los Angeles drivers L.A. because it is only a 3-4 hour push depending on traffic.  

That doesn’t mean Los Angeles is jumping for joy that their neighbors in the Bay are losing their team to another state. Many forget the Badasses won a Super Bowl XI in the Rose Bowl as the Oakland Raiders. Others forget they are L.A.’s only Super Bowl Champs as the winners of Super Bowl XVIII. You might also remember the current site of the Rams and Chargers SoFi stadium was almost home to the Raiders first

Still, Raiders fans in L.A. and Southern Calif., know what it is like to lose their favorite team too. Many people like me didn’t even know what it was like to have an NFL team until a few years ago. 

Southern California’s Connection to the Raiders

A column from the New York Times in 2016 went into the disappointment Raiders fans felt when their team would not return to L.A. because the Rams and Chargers got selected:

“But while Rams fans seemed to go into hibernation during the team’s absence, Raiders fans continued to wear their colors. They remained drawn to their team’s brash play and menacing image even though its performance on the field was often uninspiring. Many Raiders fans in Los Angeles remain attracted to the team’s mystique — its silver and black colors, the pirate logo, the team’s longtime owner, Al Davis, who died in 2011 but who in his prime strutted the sidelines in leather and snubbed his nose at the football establishment.”

An L.A. Times article by Dylan Hernandez described the Raiders return to L.A. in the 2018 preseason. Hernandez said Raiders fans outnumbered Rams fans at least three to one.  

The 19-15 loss was the Raiders first game the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in almost 24 years. 

“Even when the Rams ran out, they were booing them. It definitely made us feel right at home. Truly appreciate them. Wish we could’ve won a game for them.” Former quarterback EJ Manuel said after that preseason game.

Former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was at that game too. McKenzie spent his first four years in the NFL as a Los Angeles Raiders linebacker. 

Gilbert Manzano Review Journal said you could hear Raiders fans answer when the P.A. chanted, “Whose house?”

“It just tells you how strong Raider Nation really is,” McKenzie said after that game. “Once a Raider fan, you’re always a Raiders fan. They bleed silver and black.”

“I think the combination of Oakland and L.A. will migrate to those games (in Las Vegas),” McKenzie said when he was still G.M. “I think we’re going to get a true Raiders fan base.”

Head Coach Jon Gruden said it was awesome being back in Los Angeles too. 

“(The Raiders) have history here, a championship history here. There’s still a lot of fans that remember those teams, and rightfully so.” Gruden said after the 2018 exhibition versus the Rams.

Even more recently, a L.A. Times article recently described the L.A. Coliseum or Dignity Healthy Sports park as places where you will see all kinds of team jerseys including Raiders jerseys.

Columnist Arash Markazi wrote that the city has plenty of NFL fans, but many might not call the Rams or Chargers their favorite.

Arash adds: 

“It’s not an indictment on Los Angeles as an NFL city but rather an indictment on the NFL’s failure to understand Los Angeles.”

L.A. will always be a part of the Raiders story whether the NFL recognizes it or not. That’s why it is so sad to witness them ripped from our neighbors in the Bay. 

A article from Marc Sessler said it well: 

“And while all this history unfurled successfully for a time in Los Angeles, nothing we imagine and feel about the Raiders would have been possible without Oakland — oft-drowned out by the lights and call of San Francisco, but cut from a cloth utterly unknown to any other gridiron home-front.”

I will always take the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland. However, I will also always try to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders and how two present NFL teams, not the Raiders, changes their lives. 

Nothing Like Oakland

For over 20 years. Los Angeles had no football team. That is not something I wish on my future generations in the Bay. Those circumstances make you vulnerable to Cowboys and Patriots fans because anything is better than rooting for the 49ers. I felt a similar disdain for the Chargers despite their proximity. It was in my blood. 

I chose the Raiders and never regretted it despite the constant Sunday headaches from bad play. Every Raiders tailgate I’ve ever been to in Oakland is among the best days in my life. The people are one of a kind. Having a place where you’re not the only weirdo Raiders fan is an epic experience. 

That will always be in Oakland. There’s nothing like it. You can find it in L.A. if you seek it out. Something similar might grow in Vegas but it won’t be the same.  

Don’t feel too bad for L.A. We have two teams for just about every sport along with Hollywood and tons of entertainment options, including close proximity the Strip and Las Vegas. 

Yet, all of that is not enough for Raiders fans in L.A. to forget about our Raiders whether they’re in Oakland, Vegas or L.A.

You can find just the original reporting portion updated here.

Leave a Reply