The shovel NFL commissioner Roger Goodell smashed into the dirt in Las Vegas for the Raiders stadium groundbreaking Monday looked quite familiar.
Oh yes, it’s the same shovel the commissioner buried the Raiders fanbase with!
Goodell and the machine that is the NFL deemed it “best for business” to extract a home game from Oakland to Mexico City back in February. Thus, the Raiders square off against the mighty New England Patriots South of the border this Sunday. That’s the same spot the league hit a jilted fanbase: Right in the family jewels.
“I don’t want to lose (the home games),” Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said. “The Raiders are a part of the NFL and it’s their decision to do certain things. We would love to play our home games here in Oakland. But that has not happened . . . we make our statements to the league, wishing to stay here in Oakland. It’s about the league, not about the Raiders.”
I say jilted fan base because there’s a sect of Raider Nation “irreparably” scorned by the impending move to Vegas. In essence, the groundbreaking Monday was just another swift kick to the … well, you know.
But relocation aside, losing a prime home matchup against arguably the AFC’s top team was nothing but a slap in the face to Oakland. Let’s get specific, an ice cold backhand pimp slap.
“It’s a competitive disadvantage, in my opinion,” Oakland Head Coach Jack Del Rio said. “One that we’ve faced the last couple of years and will face the next few years.”
Next … few … years? That portends in the Raiders playing “home” games abroad in the foreseeable future.
Don’t be appalled. This is how the league operates. If it makes dollars, it makes sense.
And Del Rio is accurate in a road trip to Mexico, despite being labeled a “home” game, is a disadvantage. The impediment is exponentially multiplied when its Bill Belichick a team has to contend with. Bill the Butcher had his Patriots stay in the high-altitude of Colorado to prep for the elevation in Mexico City. Already well-coached, New England will be well-conditioned. Not good odds for a Raiders team that is iffy on the well-coached, well-conditioned matters.
Couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room: Relocation. Being a military brat, I’ve got ambivalent feelings towards the impending move.
Do I dislike the team is leaving California? Yes.
Do I understand the NFL is a business, one that prefers to make as much money while spending the least amount of cheddar? Yes.
Do I understand Oakland’s reason to stand its ground and not broker a deal with the Raiders? Yes.
Am I upset Raiders owner took a $750 million carrot from Vegas to move the Raiders? No.
I’ve seen plenty of venom spewed about Davis being a beggar and taking a handout. So, you’re telling me you wouldn’t take that same “handout”? Morals and values are high ideals, but when it comes to the viability of your product and the willingness of those to help ensure it maintains, as a business person, you do what’s best for business. Even if the situation gets messy with the feels.
“It’s all about winning, and providing them with everything they need to win,” Davis said. “We’re the Oakland Raiders right now and we’re going to try to bring a championship up there. But in 2020, we’re going to be the Las Vegas Raiders, and we’re proud of that. But the fans are the most important thing to us as well, and they’ve been very understanding. There are a lot of people that may have their feelings hurt; they may feel hurt, right now.”
There were a bevy of Raiders legends at Monday’s groundbreaking. And I’ll leave you with words from Howie Long, a Hall of Fame Raider, who gave his blood, sweat and tears to the Silver & Black.
“Priorities 1, 2 and 3 were to keep it in Oakland,” Long said. “I think every player that’s ever played in Oakland would have hoped that it could have gotten done there. If you’re going to be upset with someone, be upset with the right people.”