‘Twas the night before Christmas, and once again the Raiders find themselves battling on Christmas Eve in a divisional matchup against arch-nemesis the Denver Broncos. While on paper this is an unappetizing matchup, it carries greater significance because this might very well be the Raiders final game played at the Oakland Coliseum.
Much like Walter White’s journey in Breaking Bad, the Raiders relationship with the Oakland and Alameda politicians was never going to end smoothly – especially not after the recent lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland against the Raiders and the NFL to receive compensatory damages.
The lawsuit has triggered a cascade of events in which it seems at this point, inconceivable that the Raiders will play another game at the Coliseum. As it stands, the Raiders have pulled their 2019 lease offer of $7.5 million off the table and have since contacted a number of various cities and stadium management groups to explore home game possibilities for the Raiders next season.
San Francisco Raiders – For a Year?
It was confirmed on Friday that the Raiders have had discussions with the San Francisco Giants about using AT&T Park for the Raiders home games in 2019. The Raiders are in a bind because they have consistently told Raider Nation that they will be in the Bay Area until 2020 when they move to Las Vegas. To move outside of the Bay next year may be justifiable under the circumstances, but it would still be a slap in the face to so many fans that would no doubt be the biggest losers in such a move, by no fault of their own no less.
It would be an absolute public relations disaster for the entire NFL if the Raiders were to move temporarily to a ‘host’ city for 2019. Barring a move to Southern California where the Raiders have a large fan base already established, any other host doesn’t appear feasible (although Silver and Black Today can confirm the team is in active talks with San Antonio). This leaves the Raiders with few options for 2019. In a nutshell, in my view, they need to find a suitable stadium in the Bay Area. The Coliseum at this stage doesn’t seem to be an option for obvious reasons, leaving Levi’s Stadium, Cal Memorial Stadium, Stanford Stadium, and AT&T Park as possible options.
Mark Davis loathes the thought of sharing Levi’s with the San Francisco 49ers, even if it were for just a single year. Though that’s in all likelihood the NFL’s preferred option, it seems to be a remote possibility.
Cal Memorial Stadium is a nice possibility in theory because of its location in the East Bay, but it may not have all the necessary amenities and facilities that a standard NFL stadium requires. Also, the university has a long-standing agreement with nearby residents to limit the number of large-scale events in the stadium. As for Stanford’s stadium in Palo Alto, well Stanford doesn’t exactly need the rent money and from what I’ve been told, aren’t interested in the Raiders being a tenant in 2019.
That’s why I believe, it leaves the Raiders with one truly viable option: AT&T Park. It is a spectacular modern stadium that is in the Bay Area, while being in close proximity to the Raiders headquarters in Alameda. Football games have been played at AT&T Park this decade, though the configuration of the stadium means that both teams have to line up on the same side of the field. It’s odd, but there are ways of ensuring that it’s not an issue.
There was always something special about coming off the BART station and smelling that smokiness of chard barbecue in the air.
In fact, the biggest hurdle lies with the 49ers and the NFL. The Embarcadero location of AT&T Park lies within 49ers commercial rights territory. The 49ers with the NFL would have to give up these rights for 10 days next season to accommodate the Raiders. In theory, this should be a formality if it got to that stage, but, as the last decade and then some of the news surrounding a potential new Raiders stadium has told us, nothing is ever set in stone.
Bittersweet Monday Night Football
Whenever it happens, the Raiders leaving the Coliseum will be a bittersweet moment for many. Tailgating in the parking lots, where Raider Nation is one giant, dysfunctional family for five hours pre-game, has forged many friendships. There was always something special about coming off the BART station and smelling that smokiness of chard barbecue in the air. It meant that football was here, and with that, eternal optimism would abound in hope that the game that day would be revered in history like many of the others at the Coliseum.
It should be remembered that though much history and tradition is steeped in the Coliseum, that too is steeped in the entire Raiders organization. There is not a better organization in the NFL who are better versed than the Raiders at honoring their unique and great past. It’s why some 30+ years since winning a Super Bowl, fans still feel they were part of defining moments in the organization – even if they weren’t necessarily there.
It is said that the greatness of the Raiders is in its future, and thus while a large part of their history will be coming to an end shortly, there is a lot to look forward to. The NFL could put the Raiders on Mars and they’d find a way to sell out the stadium. That is the uniqueness of the Raiders brand. Possibly one last time tonight, if you’re going to the game, make sure to soak it all in, enjoy the tailgating and the game itself. If you’re watching on TV, no doubt there will be countless flashbacks from ESPN about some famous Raider moments at the Coliseum for you to reminisce and reflect upon.
For the Raiders to realize their organizational greatness, moving forward is necessary. Tonight should not be seen as a sad moment but one of excitement. In barely one week’s time, Las Vegas can officially say that the Raiders arrive next year, with a brand new state of the art stadium that will be the envy of the league.
New stadium, new revenue, fresh opportunities and – finally – an equal playing field with the rest of the NFL’s teams.
Yes, it is exciting. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and the Raiders are coming.
A Quote to Remember
“The Browns were Cleveland. The Colts were Baltimore. The Raiders are an ethos. They represent something besides a city: They are rebels, the anti-establishment, the team you cheered for if you were in a motorcycle gang, or just liked to imagine being in a motorcycle gang. For many fans, the appeal of the Raiders is not that they are the NFL team from Oakland, but that they are the Raiders, the outlaws, the rowdiest bunch in the most violent team sport.”
Michael Rosenberg on the Raiders move from Oakland and why it won’t negatively impact their brand.
A Tweet of Amusement
A lot on the line this week. The whole season comes down to this. Yes, I’m talking about the fantasy football championship round. Of course I’m playing Sunday!!! Theres no way I can let down the real ones who believed in me by drafting me!! Let’s get it!! ?? pic.twitter.com/6YntwS4lpD
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 22, 2018
1. The Raiders keep tonight’s contest a thrilling one but don’t execute in the fourth quarter, losing by no more than 10 points to Denver. Expect Derek Carr to keep his no-interception streak alive for at least another game.
2. Scot McCloughan will be the Raiders new top executive by the end of January. The talk surrounding McCloughan isn’t going away, and he didn’t exactly deny interest when asked about it recently.
3. Safety Erik Harris is going to get every opportunity to be a starter in 2019. In limited time on defense this season, Harris has been solid and a definite upgrade on both Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist.
7 Things I think:
1. It’s absurd that the Raiders did not have a single player named to this season’s Pro Bowl. Jared Cook, Rodney Hudson,and Kelechi Osemele were named as alternates, and there’s a good chance they’ll be playing given the vast amount of players electing to bypass to the annual event. Cook and Hudson have had stellar seasons, not just by their standard but around the league. Hudson is a perennial All-Pro center who should have been a Pro Bowl lock, while Jared Cook has been one of the best tight ends in the league all season. Osemele has had a down year but received the nod due to his past reputation.
2. The biggest Pro Bowl snub this year was rookie Colts linebacker Darius Leonard. Leonard is leading the league in tackles, leads inside linebackers for sacks with seven, and leads linebackers for forced fumbles with four. It further reinforces the notion that players need to have a name around the league to be recognized for what is essentially a popularity contest.
3. Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask had some interesting thoughts on what the Raiders should do for potentially their last game in Oakland. I think that the ideas have a lot of merit. A pre-game tailgate party featuring entertainment with Oakland’s finest such as MC Hammer would absolutely send the fans into a frenzy pre-game. I also think inviting the fans onto the stadium would be a nice touch, but it might not exactly be feasible. An alternative such as having Derek Carr address the crowd after the game in a similar vein to what Charles Woodson did in 2015 in his last game in Oakland, could be a fitting end to the Raiders last potential game in Oakland.
4. Renderings of a potential Raiders stadium in Oakland drawn up in 2016 have leaked on social media this week. The renderings in all likelihood were commissioned by the Raiders. It will be interesting to see what impact (if any) this has for the City of Oakland’s lawsuit against the league, especially when one of their key arguments was that Oakland never negotiated or attempted to get a stadium built in good faith with the City.
5. The hot takes surrounding the signing of quarterback Nathan Peterman to the practice squad is absurd. Sure, he’s a horrible player, but consider the situation. Backup AJ McCarron’s wife had a baby this week, which raises the possibility of him missing tonight’s game, leaving the Raiders without a backup. Hence, Peterman was signed to the practice squad as an emergency option. Of course, given the constant criticism of Gruden this season, this signing has totally blown up out of proportion, but any rational person shouldn’t see it that way. I’d be shocked if he’s on the roster for much longer than the next two weeks.
6. Tight end Darren Waller has a unique combination of size and speed that is extremely rare at his position. If the Raiders retain Jared Cook, pairing him with Waller could make for very interesting multiple tight end sets in 2019. Gruden has emphasized his desire of running the Raiders in a similar model to the New England Patriots, and the Patriots use a ton of multiple tight end sets. Gruden will no doubt have plenty of ideas to feature these players in 2019 if they remain on the roster.
7. Donald Penn’s ‘Shop With a Jock’ community run for the East Bay Community Center is the type of philanthropy that goes too far unnoticed in the NFL. For all of the talk surrounding players’ off-field indiscretions, there are a tremendous amount of players doing great work for the community. Penn has been a standout in this area for many years, and his latest efforts are no doubt going to bring smiles to many children’s faces on Christmas. It also reinforces the Raiders overall organizational commitment to their community. That includes the incredible amount of work their doing in the Las Vegas community two years before they arrive.