In today’s NFL, fines, suspensions, and legal processes populate NFL headlines. While improved technology has gradually impacted privacy, NFL players still find a way to make bonehead decisions. Ask Johnathon Manziel. When this topic arises, why do the Oakland Raiders enter the conversation so easily? Instead of our franchise being labelled storied, we’re labelled thugs and criminals.
Outside of The Only Nation, the Raiders are the butt of all jokes. If anyone missed the video that showed a Chiefs fan making fun of a man in a Raiders jersey for almost 7 minutes, you need to view it. The Raiders fan took it like a man and never retaliated. Now, it might have been because he was riding solo in Chief country, but nonetheless he represented his team well. I wanted to get everyone’s attention regarding this topic because this is truly a problem. As we transition into a new era of Raiders football, it’s time to move past the jokes and the perception that Raiders fans and players are criminals and thugs.
- Jordan Trask
First and foremost, I wish I knew how certain stereotypes even came about. When you look across the league today, there are plenty of teams that have more troubled players than the Raiders. Sure, we had some feisty players in the 1970’s but I don’t think they cheated the game. I’m not sure how you can attend the AFC Championship 5 years in a row (1973-1977) and enter the 80’s without any type of respect.
Secondly, I’m trying to figure out the lack of respect in general. The Raiders are one of the most represented franchises in Canton, OH. (Pro Football Hall of Fame) Apparently we were so dominant at one point that it impacted other team’s fans and their future generations. People love to watch us fail, and if you’re a fan of Oakland then it seems as though there is a prejudice against you as well. I have relatives that apologize to my wife because she’s married to a member of The Only Nation. But why? What’s so funny?
Even with a dominant past, our franchise has faced an ongoing uphill battle since the 1970’s. Not only were our players labelled and hated, they couldn’t catch a break to save their life. From the immaculate reception all the way up to the tuck rule, Oakland hasn’t been able to attain any type of benefit of doubt. Why? What would the perception of Raider Nation be today if we had 5 Superbowl rings instead of 3? Again, the problem is, I don’t think this opinionated prejudice would be any different and here’s why.
It’s been easy for my generation to poke fun at Oakland. Winning hasn’t been a common verb in a Raider sentence. But, as far as losing goes, you have to consider the following: The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. The Buffalo Bills haven’t even been to the playoffs in 14 years. There are teams in the NFL that haven’t even won a Superbowl.
How many winning seasons have the Lions even had? To answer the question, they’ve had 1 since 2000. Speaking of criminals, search Aaron Berry and Titus Young. Now, I love the NFL, and the point of this post isn’t to bash other organizations… The purpose of this article is to repair the perception many have of our own organization and The Only Nation. People love to hate the Oakland Raiders, just as we’ve hated to love them over the last decade.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, our fan base revolves around loyalty, determination, and doing what is necessary to win the game. Just because we’re passionate doesn’t mean we’re irrelevant. On Tuesday, during NFL Training Camp Live (NFL Network) Solomon Wilcots was enjoying himself while discussing his opinion of the best division in football. His argument was pinned against the AFC West as he stated the Oakland Raiders aren’t even relevant in the NFL anymore. He had a good laugh when discussing the Raiders and made sure he reiterated his opinion numerous times. Why? He projected the Bucs winning the NFC South and becoming one of the best teams in football. Is McCown really better than Schaub? What gives Tampa Bay a better chance at improving their 4-win record? They didn’t have a roster overhaul like the Raiders did. Does Solomon possess the common perception of the Oakland Raiders as well?
- Jordan Trask
Acquired players and draft picks as of late have let us down. Players have came to Oakland and died before, we have to admit that. In the past, we’ve signed great players like Randy Moss, Deangelo Hall, and Richard Seymore but their main objective was to get paid, not win football games. Many people say their level of play matched the level of the organization, but instead, they disrespected Al Davis by not leading his team. Most of them failed miserably, and we should blame them for tarnishing the Raider image instead of letting the NFL blame Oakland for ruining the player.
Every time the Raiders sign a veteran, that veteran is compared to past players that fizzled into the Black Hole. But why? Did Brett Favre win a Superbowl in New York? Did Jerry Porter dominate in Jacksonville when we let him go? How did David Boston turn out in San Diego? I’m just saying… The media slating the Raiders as losers and a team that only signs poor talent is just as preposterous as predicting 10 wins for the Washington Redskins after they didn’t improve their last place defense and brought in a wide receiver that’s going to cause friction with Pierre Garcon.
The new regime let players like Stanford Routt, Wimbley, DHB, Michael Huff and Brandon Myers go and die somewhere else. The Raiders have been laughed at the past 2 years even though half of their salary cap was being directly deposited into these “dead” players bank accounts. There’s never a legitimate excuse for Oakland because of the perception of other NFL fans. A lack of draft choices and money wasn’t a good enough excuse for the Raiders either.
In the meantime, Dennis Allen has created a culture that is being overlooked because of their win column.
Penalties aren’t as common and I can’t remember the last Oakland Raider that was suspended. I haven’t seen fights on Sundays. I haven’t read about Oakland players using enhancing supplements to gain an advantage. I haven’t seen DUI’s, drug reports, or domestic violence. I’m not watching a player brawl during the 3rd day of training camp. Our players are focused, determined, hungry, and most importantly, professional. So why does this stereotype continue?
Yea, we had stints with players like Rolando McClain, but there’s a reason he isn’t a “Raider.” Just like Russell, he never was a true Raider. We aren’t seeing those types of players lately and in my opinion we never really did. Every team “misses” on a player every once in a while, but it’s not what we should be remembered by. If there’s one stereotype that’s legitimate, it’s players being overpaid by a desperate owner in Al Davis in order to bring the Raiders back to relevance. The best way I can make sense of this is the fact that NFL fans tabbed Richard Sherman as a criminal and thug for displaying passion for the game of football.
The Oakland Raiders should be known for their passion for the game of football as well as their passion and desire to win at any cost. You see, the tune is changing in Oakland, and no matter how bad certain NFL fans want to continue to laugh at the Raiders, it’s going to be very difficult for them to continue doing so. Either way, it hasn’t stopped members of The Only Nation from wearing the shield with pride anyways.
Raiders fans are some of the most knowledgable fans in all of sports. Dare to be different and sit down and chat with one. They may know more about your team than you. Raiders fans respect NFL teams, but not after they’ve listened to trash talk for 45 minutes. Not only have Raider fans endured the last 11 seasons in general, they’ve endured the insulting instigation, hate, and judgement since deciding to boast Raider Nation for life.
The silver and black jerseys with a low smirking pirate on the helmet need to be overlooked. We aren’t real pirates everyone. The passion that Raider Nation has for their team needs not to be taken out of context anymore. We’re not criminals, we just know what loyalty and dedication means.
As the seasons change and we tip the brim of our feathered hats, let us remember who we really are… And let us hope the rest of the league can understand why labeling us as outcasts has caused animosity for decades. Discontinue this trend and you will see a better National Football League. Enjoy our passion as it may lead to an improved fan base of your favorite squad.
Due to the title, this article will gain a lot of readers that hate the Raiders. They love to see the silver and black at the bottom.
Just remember, the NFL wasn’t the NFL until the Raiders jumpstarted a merger that began an emergence of one of the most feared teams in all of sports. It doesn’t make us thugs… We’re not cheating the game, they just can’t stand the thought of us returning to dominance. Don’t anticipate the last 11 years being a common theme.
Those 11 years of patience will be felt throughout the NFL when the team of the decades returns.
Follow me on Twitter and be courteous in the comment section. -Jt