OK, Raider Nation.
It’s time to rise up - by staying home.
The NFL has shown plenty of arrogance over the years, but the idea of the Raiders playing up to three lame-duck seasons in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas might be its worst nose-thumbing yet.
No reason for the good folks of the East Bay to stand for it.
Those season-ticket renewals? Throw ‘em in the trash.
When the Raiders take the field next fall at the Oakland Coliseum, go on a picnic. Take a hike. Attend a play. See a movie.
Anything but give another dime of your hard-earned money to an owner who couldn’t care less about the team’s loyal, passionate fans or to a league of billionaires who are only concerned with fleecing communities out of every last dollar.
If you want to make sure others join the cause, add this to your social media posts: #BoycottTheRaiders.
“Like I tell people, ‘If my wife leaves me, I’m not gonna continue sending her flowers,’” quipped Ray Perez, one of those colorful Raiders fans who populate the Black Hole on game days.
For those who haven’t kept up with the latest developments in “As the NFL Moves” - and, granted, all these franchise shifts are starting to run together - the Raiders filed paperwork Thursday asking the league to approve their proposed move to a new $1.9 billion domed stadium in Sin City.
Only one problem.
They haven’t picked a site for the new facility, much less started construction. Groundbreaking could be at least a year away.
In the meantime, the Raiders and their mercenary owner, Mark Davis, have decided that’s not a major stumbling block.
They’ll simply stay in Oakland until their new stadium opens in Las Vegas, probably in 2020, apparently with the expectation that tens of thousands of people will still be willing to support a team that’s already got one foot out the door.
This plan goes beyond arrogance.
It’s downright narcissism.
If Davis and the rest of the league can pull themselves away from counting their money, they might consider a bit of a history lesson.
In 1996, Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams received approval to move his team to Nashville. But, like Las Vegas, the Tennessee city didn’t have a suitable stadium, so Adams announced he would play two more seasons at the Astrodome.
Not surprisingly, the people of Houston decided they had better things to do than support a team that had deemed their city unworthy of having a team. Five of their eight home games drew less than 28,000 fans to the 60,000-seat stadium. The season finale was attended by a mere 15,131 - the smallest crowd in the Oilers’ 36-year history. Adams knew it would only get worse the next season, so he got out of his lease a year early.
Also worth considering: After the Browns announced their move to Baltimore during the 1995 season, the Cleveland fans became increasingly unruly, culminating with a home finale that resulted in empty seats being torn from the aisles and tossed onto the field, restrooms and other facilities being vandalized, and several fires being set in the stands.
And let’s not forget baseball’s Washington Senators, who after announcing they would move to Texas after the 1971 season, had to forfeit their final game when angry mobs stormed the field in the ninth inning of their final game in the nation’s capital.
Certainly, if the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas but attempt to play three more seasons in Oakland, they could face plenty of problems dealing with a fan base that is already known for its rowdy behavior. They should probably consider the course taken by the Chargers, who just last week announced their move from San Diego to Los Angeles even though their new stadium won’t be ready until 2019. In the meantime, they’ll play at a 30,000-soccer stadium.
Perez, who goes by the nickname “Dr. Death” when in full Raiders regalia, won’t be attending any more games in Oakland - or anywhere else - if three-fourths of the NFL owners approve Davis’ plan.
“No way I’m giving him another dime,” Perez said Friday in a telephone interview. “I’m done with football. I’m done with the NFL.”
Well, not exactly.
As a season-ticket holder, Perez has already gotten his renewal forms for next season. By the first of March, he’s got to pay a 25 percent deposit or lose the seats he’s had for seven years. Not so coincidentally, the NFL is expected to vote on the Raiders’ move after that deadline has passed.
So, Perez does intend to purchase his season tickets for one more season. But if the team gets the green light to move, he plans to sell his seats to opposing fans. And, then, he’ll be gone for good.
Why support a team that shows so little regard for those who actually pay the bills? Why support a league that already allowed two teams to move to Los Angeles in the past year and will likely sign off on the Raiders proposal?
“The organic fan bases in the NFL, places like Dallas and Green Bay and Pittsburgh and Oakland, we made the league what it is today, because of our loyalty,” Perez said. “Now, they’re making the league a billionaire conglomerate. They don’t care about us.”
Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
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