This could be the darkest hour for Tom Cable. He stands squarely at the crossroads staring the San Diego Chargers dead in the face. In one direction is a dead end where Al Davis awaits holding a pink slip. In the other direction is a faint glimmer of hope.
Just which way Cable guides his men remains to be seen Sunday.
13 consecutive losses to the hated SoCal rivals have put this traditional tilt into the Black Hole. Lost in a six-year abyss of Charger dominance is the pride that once filled Raider Nation whenever Charger week rolled around.
Way back in the day, when Jim Rome was working for the San Diego based Mighty 690, Friday on a week just like this turned Rome’s show into a three hour long smack-off between Raider and Charger faithful. Forget about whatever the hottest topic was in the sports world, there was a heated rivalry game to be played Sunday.
Now, there is nothing to discuss.
Raider Nation can’t continue to run the “show me your Super Bowl rings” smack any longer. That routine is tired…true…but tired.
Likewise, Charger fans can’t pull the “Got blackout?” card anymore. That San Diego bandwagon loses members by the minute to the point where they too have to trot to local sports bars to drink away their powder blues due to local TV blackouts.
This Sunday’s contest has much at stake.
While the Kansas City Chiefs have taken the AFC West by storm, there is still a distinct feel that their bubble will eventually burst ala Denver one year ago. This division is still very much up for grabs. With the Raiders facing the possibility of being out of the hunt before playing their first divisional foe, this Sunday might as well be the Super Bowl.
If Oakland is going to shock the world, then it will be in classic Raider fashion.
A journeyman backup playing quarterback. A team fielding more and more second stringers each week due to injury. A head coach with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
These are the moments Raider Nation lives for. Cheering on a cast of misfits and castoffs playing the role of David seeking to slay Goliath.
We could talk about the stats, dissect the match-ups and even delve into the schemes. But this will come down to one thing and one thing only: Pride.
Nnamdi Asomugha is among the few that were actually on the field the last time the Silver and Black stood victorious over the Bolts. While the feeling might be fleeting it is still there.
No, a win over the Chargers won’t solve many of the problems that plague this once proud franchise. But by snapping a 6-year drought a great pride will be reawakened and a once dark past will give way to the potential of a bright future.
On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders will take on the San Diego Chargers in a game that will be played in front of a sparse crowd. No sellout equals another blackout. But that doesn’t matter. When you’re playing for pride you don’t do it for the fans, nor for your family, not even for your coaches. You do it for yourself and your teammates.
It is time for every man in the Raider locker room to take pride in wearing the Silver and Black. It is time to take the hearts of those non-Lombardi trophy winning Chargers. It is time to return to the essence of Raider football.
Forget everything else. Only one thing matters.
Just Win Baby!