Thursdays With Raider- To Live And Die In L.A.


Editor’s Note: Yeah I know it’s Saturday, a week with Dennis Erickson, a Utah Basketball Win and Valentine’s Day, not to mention young Raider’s engagement put me behind.

Raider Thoughts

Before I get to some old business, why don’t I take care of some new business.

News came out of Alameda this past week that the Raiders are going to tarp off the top deck of the east side of the Coliseum (pejoratively called Mt. Davis) to reduce capacity to somewhere around 50,000 or so.  To put that into a poignant perspective, that’s only slightly higher in capacity than Rice-Eccles Stadium.  Yep, welcome to my world.  But since you get this weekly glimpse into the deep and heretofore unknown neurons and crevasses of my cranium, and since I don’t feel like bringing up the Great Marcus Allen Debate right now, I better rehash the other issue that perpetually divides Raider Nation.

Former Raiders offensive lineman Frank Middleton made a comment once that, truthfully, there are two types of Raider fans: Northern California Raider Fans and Southern California Raider Fans.  As the very vocal portion of the fan base that wholeheartedly supports a move back to the City of Angels is firmly entrenched in the latter category, one can imagine the horror on my face when “those people” cluttered up my Internet with “see, this team belongs in LA”.  Fortunately for me, I am old enough to remember when the LA Coliseum had to reduce capacity (“tarping off” just seems very A’s of us) to 67,000 for essentially the same reason as it is going to be attempted again in Oakland.  Once Al couldn’t get a stadium of his own built in LA (the league wanted a second team in the stadium he wanted to build in Hollywood Park and the proposed site in Irwindale was going to be financed using junk  bonds), it was back to Oakland in time for the 1995 season.

Keep in mind here that we went with a third party marketing organization for ticket sales and the PSLs that you had to buy for the mere privilege of even buying season tickets when we moved back to Oakland.  Believe me, mention the abbreviation OFMA (Oakland Football Marketing Association) and you will have a fight on your hands.  Also keep in mind that it took until about 2006 for us to come to our senses and market this team ourselves, and that if you really want to take my analysis, we have had attendance problems regardless of whether we play in Oakland, LA or the Moon since about 1986.  As I see it, there are three ways this can go:

1. Raiders share the new stadium in Santa Clara with the 49ers.  Those of you who don’t have any real attachment to this part of the world may think this is a great idea.  After all, it works out great for the Giants and the Jets, so why not the Bay Area franchises?  The thing you have to remind yourself of here is the fact that unlike the New Jersey franchises, there is a LOT of bad blood between the two franchises.  Niner fans don’t want to share their shiny new toy with the red headed stepchildren in the East Bay and I for one don’t want whatever genital cooties that may result from watching a game in their place.  In any event, some sort of bribe will have to be paid to the 49ers for that to happen and Al is probably rolling over in the mausoleum he is buried in at the mere thought of that happening.

2. Lease at the Coliseum is renewed and the tireless work of building somewhere in the East Bay begins in earnest.  Raiders CEO Amy Trask has stated publicly “we want to stay” and I don’t have any real reason to not believe her.  The problem here is that by NFL owner standards, Al’s son, Mark, is a pauper.  So the money that would be needed to build a new facility is going to have to come from someone else, possibly from another rich person, possibly from the taxpayers, and likely a combination of the two.

3. Lease isn’t renewed after the 2013 season and we move back to LA.  Here is one caveat among the many: as a temporary place to play before the new Farmers Field is built and ready to go, there are only two viable options: the Rose Bowl and the LA Coliseum.  The people who operate the Rose Bowl have said on a few occasions that they would be happy to house an NFL team…except the Raiders.  And since USC just signed a long term lease to play at the LA Coliseum, they would if memory serves have the right of refusal to not allow anyone else to play there, even temporarily.  To further add fuel to it, every time I read an article by NFL writer Sam Farmer from the LA Times about a team moving to LA, there always seems to be a “please bring back the Rams and no way do I want the Raiders back.”  Hey, trust me, LA Times commenters, the feeling is mutual.

Obviously, all bets are off if Mark sells the team, which would make him an instant billionaire overnight and he would likely not have to worry too much about inheritance taxes, but in any event, that is the wild card in all of this.  If Mark sells, moving back to LA becomes almost inevitable.

(By the way, if you aren’t following LA Times NFL writer Sam Farmer on Twitter or reading his stuff, you are missing out.  Maybe the most underrated NFL writer/analyst/reporter, etc. out there.)

Some old business:

–I have written and/or tweeted before how creepy I think recruiting is.  When I get the hairy eyeball–as my Mom often says–from people about this, I still can’t get the thought out of my mind that we are all sitting around on a Wednesday in February for fax machines to receive letters of intent on where 17 and 18 year old kids want to go to school.  That just seems to me like a case of whacked out priorities.    I have no problem whatsoever reading up on who we end up getting in each recruiting class after its all said and done, but I don’t have the spare time anymore to follow the constant wandering of the mind and heart of a teenager.  Believe me, I was a basket case at 17, imagine if I had some kind of talent that people cared about.

That having been said, I do like the fact that we are still getting kids out of Texas, since I had the impression that would evaporate once we went to the PAC.  The Houston area in particular has been good to the football program over the past few years–Brian Johnson, Jereme Brooks and Brandon Burton are just a few of the luminaries–and I am sure the recruiting experts in the fan base will be more than happy to fill me in on why that pipeline is still around.

–Did you have the impression that the Oregon game was going to slip away from us on Saturday?  I’ve seen it all before, unfortunately.

–Frankly, I was sort of nervous that Dennis Erickson was going to end up on this coaching staff, because anytime you enter into a relationship with that guy, it never ends well.  Look around at anywhere he has been.  Wazzu, Miami, Idaho, the Seahawks, the 49ers, even Wyoming where a lot of the people where I lived have nothing nice to say about the man, and you would think they had used up their non-nice words on Colorado State and BYU.  And at this point, the last thing this university needs is a messy divorce.

–I am trying not to go out of my way to say the Warriors are heading to the playoffs, but then this piece over at Grantland reminded me that we all of the sudden look like a normal, stable, awesome NBA franchise.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to sift through other people’s marriage proposals so mine won’t be memorable for all the wrong reasons,

Mac Thoughts

Ok I’m going to start with Dennis Erickson here only because I’m excited like a 14 year old boy who has just been bought a beer like Dennis Erickson.  Now I had your initial reaction.  And then I thought, you know what our football team needs, a breath of fresh air and good kick in the ass and I gotta say this brings both, even if the air smells like Dewars and stripper perfume.  And yes we may have made a deal with the devil, but its the Pac-12 and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  Wonder what Tark is doing and if he’d like to assist the basketball team.

As for Utah Basketball, here is what tells me we’re going to lose, the second I let it slip into my head that we might win.  It started a year ago in Tucson, when with 6 minutes left I thought, you know we could do this, and then the next second I thought, you idiot you ruined it.  But outside of that no Utah Basketball this week, I’m drunk on Dennis Erickson, which might actually be possible.

As for Golden State, I ask for your reaction to this.

I also look forward as a Sonics fans next year to defending or bitching about DeMarcus Cousins.  Not sure which way to go on that.  Also they have to trade Jimmer.

I also must agree with you that recruiting in a weird thing and I wish I didn’t care so much.  I’m not sure what else to say, but the day Utah lands a #1 guy I’m going to do a jig, remind me to google, how to do a jig.

As for the Raiders back to LA, there was this NFL map that colored fan areas based on Facebook research and it showed that No Cal has become largely Niners land but So Cal was Raider town.  Maybe a move back to LA would be the best thing.  Of course Alex Spanos in San Diego has done all he can to kill his franchise to get to LA so maybe they should have a bare knuckle fight to see who gets the territory.

Finally, do you remember the name Randy Welniak?  Wonder what he’s up to.

Raider Thoughts

Over on Twitter, I took the great risk of stating my agnostic stance on the whole Dennis Erickson hire and luckily no one noticed.  I love it when I take a controversial outlook and nobody gets offended.  Best part of my day.  However, I know you are in a very good mood and all, so let me throw in some other bullet points on this and you can feel free to talk me into this working out:

–While this isn’t like re-hiring Craig Ver Steeg or Tommy Lee, something about this just might make me one of those “fire Ludwig” kinds of fans, and I don’t want that.

–This still doesn’t change the fact that we still might not have the type of team that can win as much as 8 games, let alone beat USC or Arizona State or Stanford or Oregon for that matter.  Erickson can’t really make us a 10 or 11 win team can he?

–Quoting my own tweet, “I have a bad feeling about this”.  And my bad feeling has to do with the fact that I think we just might be setting ourselves up for some disappointment.  So if this hire has you thinking Pasadena, I would advise you to not do that.  I still would be relieved with an 8 or 9 win season this year, and nothing other than results on the field will change that for me.

Here is one aspect of that Facebook data that I’m reasonably certain hasn’t been factored in.  Most of us Raider fans may not have advanced degrees, but we can troll the Internet with the best of them.  Annoying and spamming your timeline with Photoshopped photos of Ice Cube is one thing, buying tickets that are going to be of the non-affordable variety is quite another.  Former Charger DT Marcellus Wiley made a taunt once that “Charger fans have more aggregate income than Raider fans”.  Nothing says “look at me, I went to Dartmouth” quite the way that does.  But anyway, if Wiley is right, who is to say that the new Farmers Field won’t be half empty in a decade?

I have the compromise to this Oakland v. LA thing.  The University of Arkansas has a deal where they play four of their games each season in Fayetteville and two games in Little Rock.  Now, if that’s the case, why not play six games in Oakland and play two in LA every year?  Assuming that the Rams don’t come back or Spanos doesn’t end up moving the Chargers there, this seems like the best way to settle this once and for all.

Were it not for the fact that I am getting married this year and that I could really use the hundred bucks that jersey fetches for to rent a tux or send invitations to anyone and everyone I have ever met in my life, I would probably get this futuristic looking Warriors jersey.  There is, of course, the possibility that envoy one in the NBA will laugh at us for doing something so out of the ordinary, but the last time I checked any publicity is good publicity.

Before I hand it back to you, do you think anyone would really want Jimmer except for maybe the Jazz?  I just don’t think you’d want to pick up Gordon Hayward for a guy like Jimmer, and I don’t know what self respecting NBA groupie would go after a dorky white guy like Hayward.  My fiancée went after a dorky white guy, so there is something to be said for us, I suppose.

MAC Thoughts

Let me say this, Dennis Erickson has seen it all.  I’ve mentioned elsewhere that when he brought his three WR one back offense to Wyoming, it was like looking at magic.  I didn’t know you could put three WR’s on the field at the same time.  It was a miracle.  The things the guy knows are offense and the Pac-12 having spent most of the last decade as a coach here.  Now take away the outside head coaching duties, let him just think about offense and how to get us Pac-12 wins, and well, lets just say I’m a little moist.

But I will admit, this is a deal with the devil.  But maybe that’s how you roll in the Pac-12.

The thing is, whomever that LA team is, they better win fairly quickly, because LA fans turn their back on a loser pretty quickly.  I mean hell, its a Clipper/Angel town for God sakes.  Maybe both the Raiders and Chargers play 1/2 their games in LA for five years and the team with the best attendance gets the city.  And what about Jacksonville, I mean that team has to move soon and aren’t we out of NFL cities?  Maybe Buffalo goes to Toronto and the Raiders move to Mexico City and play at Azteca.

Speaking of your recent engagement, congrats.  Hopefully you can get this right on the first try and not need a redo like myself.  I was also going to offer some question popping tips, but nice work getting that done on your own.  Finally, I realize the bachelor party will be sober, but it must happen, so I await my invitation.  I know this chick in Nogales who has two mules and a chicken, its really something.

I figure Gordon Hayward must be knocking chicks down left and right in Utah as it’s the capitol of girls who dig dorky white guys, mostly because its all that is around.  As for the new Sonics owner, I hope they hire a solid GM as that seems to be the key in the NBA.  Or force Stern to rule the OKC team has to be sent back to Seattle and force those hillbillies to watch the King-Sonics.

But at the end of the day, I’m very very bullish on Utah Football, we have QB’s and an O-Line, a guy who threw the ball when it wasn’t cool and we’re going to a 3-4.  The world is our oyster baby.  Also I watched the movie Ted on DVD.  Crazy Funny.

Raider Thoughts

Perhaps this is the wrong comparison, but do you think Erickson was the Urban Meyer of his day?  I compare your shock and amazement at a 3 WR set after years of the option from the Former Wyoming Head Coach Who Shall Not Be Named to the 2003 Utes and how I wondered just what the hell kind of an offense that was.  Performance wise, that isn’t exactly valid, but how much do you think his season in Laramie impact how well the Pokes did in 1987 and 1988?  I’ve wondered about this for a long time, but since I was all of 5 years old living in California at the time, I am deferring to your expertise.

You are absolutely right, LA sports fans are notorious for not being loyal through thick and thin, but if you think about it, that’s basically the same script of the Raiders previous sojourn in LA, wasn’t it?  Consider:

1. We had won a Super Bowl just before the move to LA, and most of that team was not only intact, but guys like Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Mike Haynes were added either via draft or trade.

2. The Raiders won the Super Bowl their second season in LA, just like the Dodgers won the World Series in their second season in Los Angeles.  Pretty easy to build a fan base when you win right away.  Just ask the Colorado Avalanche.

3. Us being a “Hollywood” type of team just never seemed to fit, save for the whole NWA/Ice Cube rap game sort of thing.

Here’s another anecdote for the fire.  Back in 2011, a large group of Raider fans met the team’s plane when they landed in Oakland after the Texans game which of course was the day after Al died.  Well, normally a team would have things curtained off so that the players could walk by unfettered.  But this time, the fans that were there–there had to be close to 1,000 or so–got to mingle and hug the players and enjoy that moment with the players and coaches.  As I read about that, the first thought that came to my mind was “this would never have happened in LA”.  I think there is something to be said for the Raiders having a much more familial mindset, similar to that of the Green Bay Packers.  Something that’s a lot more close knit, basically everything that Los Angeles is not.

Another round of thanks from yours truly is in order for all of you who congratulated me on my engagement.  But since you referred to watching “Ted” on DVD, I took one for the fiancée and watched the first two Twilight movies.  Bear in mind here that I think the lynchpin of any relationship is that at some point I’m going to have to watch a film like Twilight.  As the fiancée is giving me a play by play account of the plot, I keep thinking to myself “man, I’d kill to have an old Chevy truck like Bella had”.  After I told this to her though, she just sighs and says “only you, dear”.  Maybe it’s my time in Wyoming that lead me to drool over such Chevrolet awesomeness in an uber chick flick?

Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind a good Arizona road trip, if for no other reason than you can sit through 9 innings of a Giants/Diamondbacks game with me.  Or if all else fails, there is a potential meltdown that may occur after a disaster of a Sharks game like this one against Columbus on Monday:

Believe you me, one of the many benefits of being attached is the fact that I don’t have to suffer through inexplicable losses to the worst team in hockey.

MAC Thoughts

I’ve always wanted a 50’s era Chevy pickup.  In fact when my wife is making fancy doctor money, I think I might buy a restored one, mostly because I can’t fix stuff.  As for the rest of the Twilight stuff, I’ll simply say I thank the lord its not my wife’s thing but I won’t judge because we have to do what we have to do for the women we love.

Also an Arizona roadie would be a good time.  You should see if you can make it for the Utah-Arizona game next fall.  Arizona is lovely this time of year.

I’ll finish this segment with a humorous story for our readers.  Raider and the future Raider sent their save the date out via the Facebook.  I went to put my name down and then I tabbed into what looked like an address field.  So I wrote Tucson, AZ.  Little did I know that would change the address for the entire wedding.   And then shall we say, hilarity ensued, except of course for the future Mrs. Raider who now dislikes me and for Raider who was forced to talk her down.

Yep that’s how I roll with the ladies.