Oakland Raiders: Damned if They Do, Damned if They Don't

Dec 27, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; General view of an Oakland Raiders helmet at press conference at Oakland Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 27, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; General view of an Oakland Raiders helmet at press conference at Oakland Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Life is rough as Raiders fan. It’s been a long time since the team has been relevant or had respectable play on the field.  When you’re down, you’re expected to rise up and keep going.  It seems this franchise cannot catch a break. Everything is scrutinized and turns out to be bad press. Hell, not even the Raiderettes can escape the ire of the media. Unfortunately for the loyal fans of a storied franchise, it’s not always easy to keep your head up when every move your team makes is seen with disdain and mocked regardless of how positive the efforts are.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not all in all the time for buying into what the Raiders do. I have questioned my choice of NFL wardrobe and my commitment to the Silver and Black over the last couple of years. But after analyzing the moves more thoroughly, I stay loyal and move on from my idea of using my Raiders gear for wash rags.

This past weeks start of  free agency saw no shortage of Raider bashing at its finest.  First, it was the big “mistake ” that the Raiders made by cancelling Rodger Saffold’s contract because of his failed physical with the teams doctors. To me,  the bigger mistake would have been to go through with the contract and be stuck with a player with a history of injuries and overpaying for said player.  But of course since it’s the Raiders cancelling the contract, it looked as the ludicrous, dysfunctional thing to do. I don’t know about you, but if I buy a high ticket item and get home and realize that said item is damaged, I’m turning back around and asking for a refund. I don’t know, maybe my common sense is getting in the way. But lets just pretend that Saffold does get signed and gets that big contract. Guess what the headline would have been? ” Raiders Sign Injury Prone Lineman to Big Bucks – Same Old Raiders”. See what I did there?

Another point that became fodder this past week was the fact that the team was not able to keep their most valued players in Jared Veldheer, Rashad Jennings and Lamarr Houston. While I liked Veldheer, early reports circulated that the team did make an offer before free agency started, but it was Veldheer who exercised his right to seek employment elsewhere. Good for him. Good luck blocking for Carson Palmer again in Arizona. As for Houston, the media points out that he led the team with six sacks last season and that number somehow made him elite. In actuality, six sacks is middle of the road and Reggie McKenzie was not going to shell out for that. The Chicago Bears were willing to pay however, and Reggie was more than ok with that in the end.  Another early head scratcher was the re-signing of Darren McFadden. While I like Run DMC, I thought it was totally off base to retain an injury prone back who the team already knows all about. Then I read the breakdown of the contract and I was ok with it, because it’s such a low risk move by McKenzie the way the numbers add up. McFadden may have turned many of Raider Nations most loyal against him because of his injury history but the truth is, watching him makes you hold you your breath for two reasons, he could bust out a long smooth run to the end zone or he could get hurt and be out for 4-6 weeks. But for me, for him to take a big cut and to stay with the team, that speaks volumes about his commitment to the team. I’ll give him lots of credit for that and can’t wait to hold my breath again this coming year. Now – when it comes to Jennings, that’s where I disagree. In my opinion, Jennings more than earned his chance to get a long term deal with the team and I have no idea why the team would let him go and sign with the Giants. All these moves of existing players were looked at with a raised eyebrow by the majority of the media. No surprise there.

Moving on with the additions of Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley and Antonio Smith. Because these players chose to sign with the Raiders, instantly the Negative Nancy’s  were  quick to label them as past their prime, old,  injury prone players looking for one last paycheck. Forget the fact that none of them broke the bank or committed to long-term deals. While their age may be a hindrance down the road once the season starts, I doubt it, that doesn’t mean they’re not productive. As a matter of fact, Tuck racked up 11 sacks last season and Woodley wrapped up five of his own in just 11 games. Same sack number for Antonio Smith. Put that into context with Lamarr Houston’s six and I think these players are an upgrade even if they are older than Houston. Like that old saying goes “age ain’t nothing but a number”.  But still, the media would have you believe that these moves are all destined to be busts and once again bad for the team.

Last on the list is that wonderful number of sixty million. Now that the Raiders have all that money to spend,  the Debbie Downers were questioning as to why the team hasn’t spent it all yet in the first week to load the roster. So let me get this straight -Under Al Davis, if the team over extended and spent big money on a free agent, it was laughed at and ridiculed. Now the opposite is happening and  the team doesn’t spend it, the team is once again being laughed at and still being ridiculed.  Man, the mainstream  media is so fickle.

To wrap this up, the Broncos made some splashy additions in the past week. By splashy I mean 100 million dollars tied to Demarcus Ware, Aquib Talib, and T.J. Ward.  While this is a lot of money for just three players, not once did you hear about these moves being seen as busts. Instead, Ware gets the “veteran, with something to prove” label instead of the “old, injury prone, cashing in ” moniker bestowed to the Raiders players signed.  Talib  and Ward were apparently worth the big bucks and signing bonuses because the Broncos are going all in as Dream Team 2.0 and this has to be the team destined for a ring next year. I do recall Dream Team 1.0 in Philly a couple of years ago not fulfilling that obligation. But of course, because it’s not the Raiders making these large commitments to buy a title, it’s all good and the Broncos have earned themselves a golden ticket in the eyes of the media. I remember before Al Davis died, he was trying to do the same thing and somehow that “old, senile grandpa who had let the game pass him by” was just doing things the Raiders way. LOL said the media. Funny how you don’t hear that from the media now that it’s the Broncos employing that very same tactic. I guess the game hasn’t passed by John Elway, he’s an innovator right? Hardly, unless you count being part of losing six Super Bowls innovative. I guess the main stream media is right after all.

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Tags: 2014 Free Agency Darren McFadden Denver Broncos Jared Veldheer John Elway Lamarr Houston Oakland Raiders

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