OAKLAND -- Of course, a million times of course, a preseason pep rally should be full of optimism.But Sunday's Raider Nation Celebration outside of the Coliseum which drew an estimated crowd of 7,500, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, also had a dose of angst. A year has yet to pass since Al Davis passed away so this new era and regime has many fans just as excited as they are anxious about what general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are bringing to Oakland, under the watchful eye of Mark Davis."I've been gone too long," McKenzie, who played for the L.A. Raiders from 1985-88, told the crowd, whipping it into a frenzy. "I'm back with the real team."A shot at the Green Bay Packers, for whom he worked since 1994? Hardly. What else is he supposed to say?The rest of the afternoon had just as many feel-good moments from the Raiders. A sampling, then:Shane Lechler: "Though Al isn't with us anymore, we're going to carry on the commitment to excellence."Khalif Barnes: "We need you (the fans) like ebony needs ivory."Allen: "We're going to put a product on the field, Raider Nation, that you'll be proud of."It starts with Monday night's exhibition opener against Dallas.
PHOENIX – The Raiders hope to play the next three years in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas. They were approved to relocate on Monday at the NFL owners meetings, but can’t leave right away because Las Vegas doesn’t have a suitable temporary NFL venue.
The Raiders have team options on one-year leases to play at Oakland Coliseum during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and are expected to do exactly that. Owner Mark Davis said he’s open to negotiating a lease to play the 2019 season there as well before moving into new Vegas digs in 2020.
The Oakland Coliseum authority may not grant that request.
"I would say to you with the highest level of confidence, my opinion and recommendation and that of my board members, I don’t believe there is any appetite for a third season (in Oakland),” director of the Oakland Coliseum joint powers authority Scott McKibben told USA Today.
McKibben said hosting a Raiders game is a financial loss for the JPA.
If the Raiders can’t reach an agreement to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019, they have other options in the Bay Area, though none is ideal. They could play at Cal’s Memorial Stadium or use Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as a last resort in the Bay Area, sources told CSN California reporter Scott Bair.
They could renovate UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium – locker room and security upgrades are mandatory – though the Raiders would prefer to avoid that route.
PHOENIX – Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith has been banished from the NFL for over 16 months now as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled on Smith’s reinstatement application and it’s hard to imagine movement coming soon on that front after a pair of recent run-ins with the law.
He was reportedly involved in a domestic incident and was questioned by San Francisco police last month. Then he was a passenger in a vehicle that hit an unmarked police car on March 10, an incident where the driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Smith seemed out of sorts when interviewed by media after emerging from a San Francisco police station.
Smith’s banishment states he can’t have contact with Raiders personnel outside the director of player engagement, a stipulation head coach Jack Del Rio has criticized in the past.
He did so again Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, saying it’s unfortunate the organization can’t support Smith during difficult times.
“It’s a little bit frustrating to not be able to be a part of the process,” Del Rio said. “My feel is that I could help him, but the experts know. The experts don’t allow that. We have to follow the rules.
“It does get frustrating to not be able to help a young man and provide support and provide structure. Somebody else has to make those decisions. It’s just out of my hands.”
The Raiders can’t petition for greater involvement, and are therefore in a wait-and-see mode regarding their troubled, yet talented player.
“He has to get himself together,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “(Smith’s status) is totally on the league office. They know more than what we know.”