Aside from being the highest ranking woman in the National Football League, Amy Trask carries a much bigger burden these days. She’s at the forefront of helping to reshape the public persona of the Oakland Raiders and their infamous fan base.
Now those of us that have actually been to a Raiders game or 20 in our lifetime and have seen first hand the good and bad of Raider Nation. We know full and well how distorted the public view can be. Sure, there are misfit members of the Nation that use Sundays as an excuse to work out their personal problems. But that is true for any fan base. The recent tragedies that befell the Battle of the Bay only furthered many of those misinformed stereotypes.
Trask has been given high praise by many for the nature in which she’s responded to the league’s concerns over the years. But that is an internal matter. When it comes to the Raiders much of what occurs goes on behind the scenes.
Trask is looking to change that in some ways.
Now that doesn’t mean we’re all of a sudden going to be privy to Al’s private conversations on who he’s got lined up to be the next head coach. But it does mean the Raiders aren’t going to allow public silence to give way to public perception. Trask continued to stick up for her faithful fan base by releasing photos of a families enjoying Sunday’s game at the Coliseum and issuing the following statement.
“Now, those of you who regularly attend our home games know that this is not aberrational — it is the norm. That said, in light of the recent attention on the family friendly nature of sports facilities, I thought it important to send some new photographs — from our most recent game.
“None of these pictures were taken in our Club Sections or our Suites — these are fans throughout the stadium, enjoying time with family and friends — no matter the age, and no matter the team of choice. We all know that perception is not always consistent with reality — please use these photographs when helping others form opinions — and please remember that our commitment to a safe, secure, fun and family friendly environment is unwavering.”
Some will argue this is all propaganda but since when is that not the case with any franchise as public as the Raiders. Still, the fact remains that Trask has to protect her franchise and defend her fan base. Whatever you may think of the move it is the right thing to do. If the Raiders don’t start making a case for themselves nobody will.
As proud as I am of Trask and the Raider brass there still remains a vital step to be made. The Oakland Raiders must, in a very public way, speak out against violence at NFL games. For all the profiting Al Davis has done by banking on the fringes of establishment it’s time he steps forward and draws a clear line in the sand. What happens on the field is simply a matter of grown men doing their job. Once time has expired, all parties involved go back to their lives. For fans to take anything more away from the game other than the fact that it is a game is where the problems occur.
This is good for Oakland’s public image but more – much more – needs to be done to ensure senseless tragedies at meaningless games no longer occur. The Raiders cannot control every fan at every game but they can certainly make the effort and that will help them much more in the long run than photos of happy children in the Black Hole.