Vegas, (just win) baby, Vegas!
The NFL owners have made it official, and the league is about to see its third move within two years. The Oakland Raiders will soon be no more, and the silver and black will have a new home in the shadow of Sin City’s sun scorched strip.
The vote came in at Monday’s owner’s meetings, and it was a relatively predictable outcome to anyone who has been following this story over the past few years. Raiders owner Mark Davis had made it clear that he was dissatisfied with the somewhat low rent status of the O.Co Coliseum, and made an attempt to move the team to Los Angeles back when the Rams’ bid to do so was accepted in early 2016.
Davis stated at the time that missing out on L.A. was “not a win for the Raiders,” and from then on the writing was very much on the wall that the team was likely to leave the Bay Area. Certain proposals that would allow for them to do so were put forward, but Davis didn't see any of them as genuinely viable. As a result, the black hole will be moving yet again under the Davis family.
Mark’s father Al, the legendary leading man of some of the more famed Raiders’ teams moved the franchise back and forth between L.A. and Oakland a few times, before finally settling them where they have been for the past 22 years in 1995. Regardless of how enticing an NFL team in Vegas might seem, it does need to be said that this is an unfortunate end to the relationship between the highly passionate Oakland fans and their beloved team.
The move is especially rough when considering the timing, because despite their 2002 Super Bowl appearance, the Raiders have largely been a laughing stock since their return to Oakland. The fact that they are about to pull the plug on that experience just as they are seemingly set up for success for the next decade is almost cruel.
However, what is interesting about that is with a stadium still needing to be built to accommodate the team, the Raiders are expected to remain in Oakland for another year or two at least. It is unclear how this will work, as the players may be galvanized by a motivation to win a championship for the fans before they leave. Or the fans could completely (and understandably) turn their back on the franchise, which could totally take the wind out of their theoretical sails.
The last time something like this occurred, a 1995 Cleveland Browns team that had Super Bowl aspirations fell apart mid season, all culminating in a sad and sometimes violent goodbye (not that I'll ever complain about that). Regardless of whether something like that happens, it needs to be said that the Raiders and Las Vegas are an almost perfect match.
The renegade mentality of the organization should fit perfectly with a city devoted almost entirely to base human instincts, and the transient nature of it’s citizenship fits well with a franchise that has struggled to find a home over the years. We’ll see how in fact this plays out in the field over the years, but for now this partnership is a pretty interesting proposition.