August 25, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Fans in the Black Hole cheer during action between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Lions 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Media vs. The Oakland Raiders: Same Old Bias Makes for a Same Old Offseason

This column was submitted to JBB by Nick Rangel, a fan of the blog who sent us a rant on Wednesday afternoon about his take on the bias in the media against the Oakland Raiders organization. Editor Chase Ruttig edited the piece and this is his rant. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Going out of your way to take a shot at the Raiders is like making a John Bobbit joke. Or doing a Sarah Palin impression. Or saying “talk to the hand.”

It’s tired. It’s over done. And most people don’t even know why they do it. There is no need to go out of the way to kick a team when they’re down.

It’s not just the fans getting in on this. Somewhat bafflingly, the press takes as many shots at the team as the long suffering Raiders fanbase. While I don’t agree with it, I get a fan taking a shot at the Raiders, but despite the fact that the Raiders haven’t done anything to the press (other than maybe not historically indulging its entitled and inflated ego), despite the fact that every single fanbase has elements of idiocy and violence (more on that later), the press continues to act like the Raiders have killed somebody and deserve to rot in hell.

Where is the objectivity in the press? When did we allow them to wrap their bias into an editorial bastardization of reporting? If the Raiders have a QB core that stinks, write an article about why they stink. If there’s a logical, reasoned argument for why they are in a state of stinking, bring it.  The Associated Press did it.  It can’t be that hard.

The phrase “the same old Raiders” shows this bias and attachment to Oakland as a dysfunctional franchise, they see the Raiders as the criminals of the NFL, a outlaw franchise that plays in Oakland of all places. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen in the last 18 months that use some derivation of that term. Say what you want about the Raiders, but don’t say that if you want me to believe you are a responsible journalist.

Mr. Davis has passed away. His son hired a new General Manager – first in team history. The team is rebuilding, ditching the bad attitudes and contracts. In fact, some of those bad contracts were ditched only months ago. This is not the same old Raiders. This new era in Oakland is in its infancy, and it remains to be seen what will come of it. Regardless of where it goes or where the press think its going to go, calling them the “same old Raiders” is an ignorant reference and is stereotyping the Raiders organization and its fans in a harsh and biased manner that no other team is subject to. If you are a reputable member of the press using that term, I’m calling you out.

For example, the Raiders recently fired their PR director, and the press cried, “Same old Raiders!”

Really? PR guy Zak Gilbert perpetuated the notion that Al Davis ruined the Raiders in his final years, and we’re surprised that the SON of Al Davis has a problem with this? This story was never officially corroborated, but assuming this is the case, how was anyone surprised? Find me the employer that’s cool with his head of PR feeding the press negative stories about his/her dad.  Or find me all the PR directors who have been fired without a single piece of speculation.

Want to tell me the Raiders have a history of poor decisions? Maybe they do. But who made those decisions? That’s correct. It’s Al Davis and he isn’t around anymore. See how that works? If you agree that they made bad decisions, then you agree that those decisions were made by a man who passed away years ago. So it can’t be (and isn’t) the “same old Raiders.”  If we’re just looking at the single incident, which is what a responsible member of the press would do, we see a really simple explanation for a really simple event. A guy lost his job because he disrespected the memory of his boss’s late father. Simple. (Note: I know that there was a segment of the press that believes this was a “signal” to Reggie McKenzie, but the majority of the coverage implied that the move was indicative of a lack of change within the organization.)

So what persists from the organization that the press loved to hate? Year to year, what about the Raiders makes the press so delight in knocking them down? It’s a new owner, with a first-time GM, without the old CFO, with a whole new set of players and personnel, with an almost totally different front office. What persists? The stadium? Does the press hate the stadium? (Yes, they really do hate the stadium. But that’s not the issue here.)

What’s the one thing that persists? There’s the fans. Those minority fans. The ones with the darker skin.

We’ve all heard it a million times over. We’ve heard about how awful Raider fans are. We’ve heard about those fights you’ve seen at the stadium. We’ve heard plenty of asine references to thugs and gangs and freaks.

Tell yourself whatever you must to sleep easier, but if you think the Raiders are the only fanbase with this issue, you’re naive and mistaken. There are thugs and drunks and boneheads at every NFL game, behaving badly and compromising the fan experience.  If you think the Raiders have a significantly larger percentage of bad fans, your information is wrong. Or you brought a pre-existing bias to the argument. There is nothing you can point to that would support your theory. In fact, check out this report:

“Last season, the 49ers had 3415 incidents, including 23 felony arrests, 201 fights and 630 ejections from the stadium. Raiders, Broncos, Packers, Patriots and Cardinals fans had comparable, although slightly lower, crime figures at their respective home games.”

Yes, Oakland has a smaller attendance. That isn’t a difference maker and doesn’t change the fact that Oakland fans aren’t any different from other NFL fans. There’s a high incidence of thugs and drunks and boneheads everywhere.

The Oakland Raiders are an organization in transition, one that started from scratch when its patriarch passed away less than two years ago. They are an organization with a fanbase not unlike others in the league. If nothing persists from the organization that the press hated for the last 20+ years, what is left to hate about the team?  Is there some sinister spirit that haunts the Coliseum or the uniforms that turn the team into a deplorable group of men deserving of the vitriol coming from every major media outlet?

I challenge the press to explain this. I challenge the press to challenge my accusation that this happens. Many would deny that their dislike of the team affects their reporting. Prove it. Get a reputable professor of logic and/or journalism involved. Call my bluff.

I challenge the press to report on the Raiders – and ALL teams – objectively. Sure it might take a little more time and energy to think before you write, but its your job. Leave the editorializing to ESPN, leave the bias at home. Fans don’t get paid. You’re professionals. Act like it.

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