Oakland Raiders Big 3 Era Begins With Cooper, Carr, Mack


The Oakland Raiders’ trio of franchise prospects brings excitement to the Raider Nation. [Photoshop: Evan Ball]

For too long the Oakland Raiders have been identified by an eccentric owner, financial crisis, or personnel incompetence. Sure there’s been a fun draft pick or two every few years. We’ve had a couple of over-the-hill free agents join the team for a year or two. Of course, we even had the return of The Godfather himself, Charles Woodson. However, the reality is that expectations have gotten so low, so painfully desperate, that Raiders conversation clings onto the tiniest of glimmers of light as hope for the franchise. Now the narrative can be flipped-turned upside down.

Think about what makes a team iconic and marketable. It’s all about a set of superstar personalities. Montana/Young and Rice. Brady and Belichick. Kobe and Shaq. An iconic core of talent, which can achieve lasting success. This is something the Raiders finally have.

The Raiders are in a position which few professional sports team enjoy. They have a shot at a Big 3. Not a single marketable face, or a cool duo – three. While they may not have done the massive WWE style announcement of the situation (like a certain Miami basketball team), they can still benefit from the branding and image change. There is now a superstar linebacker, a promising young quarterback, and a universally lauded rookie wide receiver donning the Silver and Black. All three of these players have a legit shot at being a marketable, talented, widely-praised NFL personalities – along with being studs on the field. This changes the game entirely for Raiders fans and media alike.

“Oakland gets to be the land of the rising stars. The Warriors have the Splash Brothers. The Raiders have AC/DC and the Mack Attack”

Raiders-related conversation no longer has to be dominated by whether an 8-8 coach should have been fired, a potentially pro-bowl running back can stay healthy enough to meet the mind-blowing potential we all knew he had (“You’ll see next year, I promise…”), or how much more promising the team looks now that X draft bust is gone or Y aging free agent has joined.  Those stories will have their place, at the edges of the larger Raiders conversation.

Oakland gets to be the land of the rising stars. The Warriors have the Splash Brothers. The Raiders have AC/DC and the Mack Attack. The Raiders get to be cool again. Okay, well… Raiders imagery was never uncool, but the organization was considered a joke. So were the Warriors a few years ago.

In the 2011-2012 season the Warriors won 23 games. It was Mark Jackson’s first season as coach. Stephen Curry was dealing with injuries. Expectations were low. However, it was the start of the current era of Warriors excellence. Despite going 23-43 (lockout-shortened season), it was a clear turning point for the franchise. People saw what they were capable of achieving and they’ve been on the way up since then. Most importantly, that was the year the narrative about the team started to change.

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This is quite possibly that year for the Raiders. With several disappointing seasons behind them, it’ll be time for everyone to open their eyes and see what the Raiders are capable of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not contending they’re going to win 10 games. They don’t have to. They just have to deliver some hard punches and put the league on notice that this Big 3 is a force to be reckoned with.

A nationally recognized Big 3 would do wonders for the team. It would sell merchandising and tickets, thus raising the value of the brand. It would attract talented free agents, who might look forward to the opportunity of seeing their stat line improve playing next to Mack, catching passes from Carr, or avoiding double coverage opposite Cooper. It puts more Silver and Black highlight plays on SportsCenter, raising the overall profile of the team. The Raiders marketing team needs to lean into this concept hard. Put the Big 3 front and center on every poster, in every press conference, and every press release possible. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often.

All that’s left is for the Raiders to win. With Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper leading the way the wins feel all that much more possible. If Head Coach Del Rio and the Big 3 can get past five or six wins this season the league will do a double-take. The conversation will no longer be, “How did the Raiders blow it this time?” Instead, Raider Nation will be happily grinning as we repeatedly hear, “Did you see what the Raiders pulled off last week? Don’t sleep on the Raiders.”