2014 Oakland Raiders: Hard Knock Life


May 16, Alameda, CA, USA; Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will this be the year the Oakland Raiders finally let the cameras of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” into Napa?

Much like the late Al Davis, Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders have kept up the tradition of being a secretive organization who values it’s privacy.

Reggie is “Old School”, and comes from another organization in Green Bay, who also despised any unwarranted attention. The thought is…why add any undo stress on a team during the intense, competitive landscape of training camp.

While fans would love a behind the scenes look into their favorite team, the GM’s, coaches, and owner’s may have some reservations. There are several factors that come into play, but in my opinion the Oakland Raiders are in the best position in years, to be the face for the 2014 season of “Hard Knocks”.

A Platform for the Voice of the Raiders

Who are the Oakland Raiders? And what do the new Oakland Raiders represent?

These are questions that need to be answered when addressing fans, media, and sponsors alike, who unlike you and me do not follow everything Silver and Black.  As fans we can forget the business aspect to running an NFL franchise. Despite all of the fan support and loyalty, professional football is still a business first.

The spotlight “Hard Knocks” would bring to the Oakland Raiders could be just the incentive owner Mark Davis is looking for. “Hard Knocks” would be a chance to showcase his team in the post Al Davis era. A way to brand himself as the new head of the Oakland Raiders, while highlighting his father’s legacy.

The current Raiders are team struggling for respect, struggling for some attention, and struggling for a new stadium. Mark has been stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to stadium talks. Trying to build a stadium in Oakland, a city on the verge of bankruptcy, or having to sell the team, as the NFL seems to not want a “Davis” or the Raiders back in LA. Dont belive the hype or threats, Mark Davis can’t move the Raiders to Los Angeles without the NFL’s approval.

"“And, as noted, there are plenty within league circles who believe the NFL — which will very much control entry into this lucrative market — will be loathe to let Davis be the first man there no matter what, especially in light of all of their legal struggles in the past in that regard with Davis’s father, Al.” Jason LaCanfora, CBS Sports NFL Insider."

So what options does a desperate owner have? Well…build support by showcasing your team to the world. With “Hard Knocks” Mark Davis would have the opportunity to highlight the somewhat underrated job he has done since his father’s passing. Taking a struggling franchise and bringing it back to glory, a chance to market the Raiders as a great investment guided by a great owner.

Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Timing is Better than Ever

In previous years I understood the reluctance of the Raiders organization in allowing “Hard Knocks” into the building.

Whether it was a new head coach (which was often, and against the criteria for “Hard Knocks”), some fragile rookies, poor leadership, or just trying to keep a competitive edge, keeping the cameras out made sense at times.

But those days are past, it is time to reward the fan base after years of purgatory. Time to open the gates behind the shield, eyepatch, and cross swords and let the world in.

This coaching staff has been its most stable in years. Dennis Allen going into a critical third year, with much of the same support staff he began with. The few exceptions are veteran assistant coaches and coordinators like Greg Olsen and Tony Sparano who are respected in league circles. Outside of the Raiderette lawsuit, the organization has enjoyed mostly good publicity. Reggie McKenzie knocked the 2014 NFL Draft out the park, and has been praised this off-season, not only for the draft but also his free agent acquisitions. Reggie is a no-nonsense GM, who shouldn’t be afraid of the cameras.

With those off-season acquisitions you have a bevy of veteran leaders, who shouldnt be affected by the attention and cameras during training camp. The time is finally right, and the Oakland Raiders are capable and ready to welcome the worldwide attention “Hard Knocks” would bring.

Storylines, Competition, and More 

There is a reason “Hard Knocks” has been such a succesful show since it began in 2001. The captivating storylines have included, new rookies adjusting to NFL life, intense competition to make the team, head coaches/GM’s on the hot seat, family lives of players and coaches, contract disputes and of course the drama of players getting cut from the team. The 2014 Oakland Raiders would provide ample storylines to continue the tradition of this great documentary series.

  • The grooming of Derek Carr would highlight the series. His tutelage under the veteran Matt Schaub would make great television, as Carr could be an injury away from starting.
  • The London connection would be a great sub-plot, watching fellow “Brits” Jack Crawford and Menelik Watson battle it out opposite each other. May the best “Chap” win.
  • Charles Woodson, and what may be his final year in the NFL. The decision to keep playing and retiring with the Raiders.
  • “Bash Brothers” Khalil Mack and Sio Moore, learning from the veterans Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley.
  • Mark Davis getting a new Haircut????

Just a few examples, but the intrigue, especially for Raiders fans would be awesome.

Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders being selected by “Hard Knocks”, let alone the Raiders organization allowing a sneak peek into the Silver and Black is a long shot.

The Raiders may indeed hold off and continue their tradition of being a secretive organization, who will never seek outside publicity.

But the time may not be any better than now, for the Oakland Raiders to showcase to the world what has been brewing in Oakland. A new attitude, swagger, and discipline, built upon the legacy Al Davis, and always dedicated to a “Commitment to Excellence”.