Raiders owner Al Davis

Autumn Winds of Change For The Raiders

Raider Nation, believe it or not, this is the beginning of a new era for the Raiders, their fans and NFL in general. Like any new age, it is out with the old, and with that, mentalities will change. I’m not just talking about location either. I am talking about the league and their crony referees blowing games. Let’s look at the most important rivalry in the history of the franchise, shall we?

Raiders vs NFL

The tension goes back to the Raiders inception, when they joined the AFL. It worsened once Al Davis took over and kept the NFL on their toes. Some back-stabbing by Lamar Hunt, and back-peddling from other owners brought the leagues merger.

Make no mistake though, Davis had them scared and deserves a lot of credit for the merger due to his managing force of the AFL, which was a threat to the NFL. They sought out other owners, probably knowing deep down Davis was going to bury them. At the end, it worked, and he became known as public enemy #1 to the NFL.

He embraced that role and like a true Raider, he took what he wanted, when he wanted and built his empire by bringing in like-minded men and spit in the face of the league every chance he got. His philosophy: hit them and hit them hard.

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That philosophy brought a lot of fear and respect along the way, but it also brought a lot of pain for his brand. Davis’ main goal was a new stadium, his own stadium, and he relocated twice to get as close to that as possible. He had opportunities, but there was no sharing, the man was set in his ways. Davis created the Raiders mystique, he owned it, and he breathed it. All his players and all other personnel and family looked up to him because of it.

Rock Bottom

However, Davis’ prestige and respect seemed to decline along with his sanity. Barring a few good years, the Raiders have hit rock bottom in the 21st century. They were robbed by NFL officiating in back-to-back seasons, which led the owner to trade away his young gun coach, Jon Gruden, only to see him and the Buccaneers crush the Silver and Black in Super Bowl XXXVII. After that, Davis threw money away left and right trying to bring in talent on their decline and thus, the Raiders were known as the free bank for a few years. Some players came just for the check from the crazy owner, others came just for the team’s reputation. Then, that crazy, iconic owner passed away, and the Nation paused.

There was a questionable future on the horizon; was it to remain in Davis’ name? go corporate? In due time, rumors were squashed and Al Davis’ son, Mark, was taking over.

The Legacy Lives

As the younger Davis took over, he was known for not having the same football mind as his dad, which was a good and bad thing depending on who you spoke with. I still think he knows a lot more than most people in the business, he was bred for it. He did what was right, he stepped back and consulted others on bringing in a general manager to clean up the team while he dealt with the business side. Then, he tried to find solutions to fix the problems in Oakland, but the city was not willing to play ball.

He toyed with the idea of going back to Los Angeles but the league was not receptive towards it. Eventually, there was compromise, and Las Vegas was set to be their new home. To me, it just fit, Sin City, home of the Raiders.

Even though the younger Davis seemed to be getting along better with the league, their officiating crews still found unprecedented ways to screw the Raiders over during games, which can be seen as one of the reasons Raiders did not make playoffs in 2019, albeit a minor one, because they could have overcome it. However, it still feels like some things will never change.

Turning The Page

I believe the NFL’s war with the Raiders died in Oakland. It was not beneficial for the league to see them make the playoffs but would’ve have been great for their fanbase. It would have helped Oakland too, which is not something the NFL is interested in, that ship has sailed. Now, the Raiders are on the league’s radar, they need Las Vegas to succeed so I expect them to call off the hounds and allow them to just play the game without referee interference. The Nevada market is too rich, the NFL wants in on that and will make it work. It has gotten to the point it feels like wrestling; they should just add an “E” at the end, for “Entertainment”, because it does seem too scripted at times.

The Autumn Winds of Change

While I believe the NFL’s main war with the Raiders is over, the feeling will not be mutual. This is going to continue like the WWE; the league is Vince McMahon, Las Vegas is Stone Cold Steve Austin. There were times they got along and worked well together. Then there were times the owner was taking a stunner and setting up the backroom against Austin. Love it or hate it, it’s entertainment and we will tune in because we don’t know what is going to happen, even though they probably already do.

Believe it, winds are changing, the page is turning and the Raiders will be back at the top in the near future. I’m not saying the NFL is going to help them get there. What I’m saying is they will not stand in their way because they need them to succeed.

Fans will still be yelling about refs on Monday morning. That won’t fully change but I don’t believe they will be as common as they were. The autumn winds are changing.

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