Aug 12, 2014; Oxnard, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson (24) at scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys at River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
ESPN’s polls of late haven’t been kind to the Oakland Raiders as after a SportsNation poll confirmed every state in the US feels that the Raiders will move from Oakland, a poll of NFL players taken by ESPN revealed that the Raiders are the least desirable franchise to play for in the NFL.
ESPN polled 82 players, who came back with the majority of players picking the Raiders as the least desirable franchise to play for at 23 percent of the votes. Topping the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars despite being located in the Bay Area and having the mystique of being one of the league’s most infamous franchises.
"The Raiders are the least desirable team to play for in the NFL, according to an NFL Nation Confidential survey posed to 100-plus players on the following question:“The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”Of the 82 players who answered, 23 percent named the Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (19 percent), Cleveland Browns (16 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars(9 percent) and Green Bay Packers (6 percent). These are tough times for the Raiders, who have endured 11 consecutive nonwinning seasons and last reached the postseason in 2002 — the season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed them in the Super Bowl."
ESPN also contacted current and former Oakland Raiders, who all defended the franchise. Including Jacoby Ford, who backed up comments made by current locker room leaders Marcel Reece and Charles Woodson who all feel that the poll doesn’t tell the true story of what happens when players come to play for the Silver and Black.
“I think people have a certain persona of the Raiders,” Ford said to ESPN. “When you’ve actually been in that organization, you know how it is. That statement isn’t true. I’ve been in that organization. Anyone who came to the Raiders, it was always, ‘I always wanted to be a Raider.’ They love the silver and black.”
Woodson feels that the poll is a bit skewed based on conversations he has had with people around the league, some who have told him they would love to come put on a Raiders uniform.
“I’ve never heard anybody that said they didn’t want to play for the Raiders, so that’s pretty shocking,” Woodson said, again to ESPN. “I think you’ve got to take the attitude that if you didn’t want to come here, it doesn’t matter anyway. Over the years, I’ve known and talked to countless players that said, ‘Man, I would love to come play in the silver and black.’ So I think that poll might be kind of skewed.”
Marcel Reece had the strongest opinion on the matter as the current flag bearer for everything Oakland Raiders, saying that not only does he feel that those who said they would never want to play for the Raiders are lying to themselves along with claiming he would play for “half of what they pay me” to stay in Silver and Black.
"“The most hated team in the world? The first thing that comes to mind is the Oakland Raiders. The bad boys. The black sheep of the NFL. And it’s not really a negative thing because we don’t do bad things. We’re not the team that’s having the most arrests in the NFL, or the DUIs or the drug cases or throwing the big parties. But we just have that stigma around us.“If guys really would be honest with themselves, and think about when they were little kids, or when they wanted to be tough guys, or they wanted to play football, what team did they think about? Or what helmet did they want to put on? What colors did they want to put on? What shield did they want to represent? I can guarantee you that 80 to 90 percent of true lovers of this game — lovers of competition and have passion for this game — would say the Oakland Raiders.“I would play for this team if they paid me half of what they pay me, and I have taken pay cuts to stay. I guarantee you, if half those guys would have the opportunity to come play for this franchise, they’d be on board. They’d get it.”"
There are drawbacks to playing for the Raiders, namely a lack of hope for winning Super Bowls along with the dated Oakland Coliseum, which hasn’t prevented the Oakland A’s from building a star studded roster in recent seasons. Winning cures all, but the Raiders players have a point that a poll of 82 players does not represent what the entire league would feel as a whole. Playing in California for a franchise with a storied history is arguably better than spending your days in Jacksonville or in the harsh Buffalo winters after all. Whether or not the whole league shares the same feelings as the 82 players polled is a story for a different day, but don’t expect those who have played for the Raiders to buy into the notion that Oakland is the least desirable destination in the NFL.