The torrential nonsense that was emitted with the announcement of the NFL owners’ vote on the fate of the Mark Davis Raiders was as embarrassing as it was predictable. It’s as though everyone involved and watching had forgotten what this was about from the start, and became a chase for rabbits that didn’t exist.
But that’s what you get when the National Football League and politics commingle – a cavalcade of lies, half-truths, shaded half-facts and nitwit hysteria that . . . well, that explains everything we need to know about what passes for entertainment in America in 2017.
So let’s do a random tour on everything that was said Monday, so that we can see that nobody cornered the market in disingenuous, silly or just plain idiotic.
- Mark Davis, thanking Sheldon Adelson for his “vision.” What he meant to do was thank Adelson for shaking down three quarters of a billion dollars from the State of Nevada. Adelson didn’t thank him back for finding out that his power play to get a potentially controlling chunk of the franchise was dead on arrival in the league offices after he’d gotten the money committed, and that he’d been used, no doubt the way he’s used plenty of others.
- Roger Goodell: “We’re all disappointed for Oakland and their fans.” No he isn’t. He’s mad that they elected someone who wouldn’t cave in to the league the way those good citizens in other cities and states do.
- City councilman Larry Reid, in full snittery, said he not only would never wear any form of Raider gear again (and who cares?) but would talk to the Oakland city attorney about forcing the Raiders out of their two years of lease options and make them play in Santa Clara. Fine, except that any lawyer will tell him that would probably die in court for 2017 and 2018, and would be at best a coin flip to 2019, and not only that, the 49ers don’t want the Raiders any more than the Raiders have wanted them. Dead issue, Lar’. Political posturing. Don’t bring it up again.
- Davis, saying his father would be proud of him for taking the team to “the entertainment capital of the world.” He would have been much prouder of the fact that his son showed a single-minded devotion to getting out of Oakland to the point of being embarrassed several times before he got what he wanted. The old man almost surely didn’t think the boy had it in him.
- Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross, the only dissenting vote, saying “My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted. I want to wish Mark Davis and the Raiders organization the best in Las Vegas.” Ross voted for the Rams’ move to Los Angeles a year earlier, and he couldn’t be less interested in “the best” for Davis or the Raiders.
- Everyone who mentioned how Oakland would never help Davis build a stadium. Oakland didn’t have a spare $750M, then or now, and neither did Davis, which is why other people scared up almost all the money for the Vegas project for him. Plus, it isn’t a city’s job to help a private company scare up financing, it’s the guy who runs the private company. Davis’ problem was that getting money costs money, and the only thing he had was the team, with which he didn’t want to part.
- Schaaf: “I am glad we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unwarranted demand that we choose between our baseball and football franchises.” The first part is what she can proud of. The second is a red herring, a merely ancillary part of what the league actually wanted – control of the stadium and land surrounding it. Schaaf decided not to do business with people she didn’t trust and came to loathe, and the league decided not to do business with a city that didn’t have money and wouldn’t knuckle under to any and all extortionate demands.
- Schaaf continually describing the Oakland plan as “viable,” when viability depends in considerable part on another party being interested in what your definition of “viable” is. Neither the team nor the league wanted any part of the “viable” plan because they defined “viable” as “give us everything you have, and we’ll work out the rest of your stuff later.” The plan was affordable, but it was never actually viable.
- Schaaf saying (“Our fans) deserved better.” In the world of cutthroat money-hunting, nobody “deserves” anything. It’s what you can carve from the flesh of your opponent. Oakland didn’t own the Raiders and neither did their fans. When you call a team “we,” you really mean “they,” and let this be the reminder your parents should have provided for you 35 years ago.
- A’s president Dave Kaval saying how disappointed the baseball team was to learn that the Raiders were leaving. A baldfaced lie, this. The A’s are absolutely giddy about the prospect, and have been waiting for it to happen for nearly a decade. If they could get the permits, they’d have a parade down Broadway tomorrow.
- The NFL moving three franchises in 15 months as some sort of horrifying development that will destroy the traditions that made the league powerful. Please. These guys had no problem with moving the Rams or the Raiders, and only objected to the Chargers leaving for L.A. because they’d done their good pal Dean Spanos a favor by giving him an option to move and were floored when he took them up on it. No good deed goes without a knife in the ribs, and all that -- especially after the Rams killed L.A.’s buzz for football in less than a year. The league goes where they think money is, and woe betide the team that is looking to relocate if the league every finds out there is money on the sun.
- Vegas as the massive vice farm that will lead players down a path of perdition, but nobody mentions that a player can get into trouble in new York or Chicago or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Boston or Indianapolis. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted, “Coaches are already discussing how they'll handle their travel when they're on the road in Las Vegas. Likely staying away from The Strip.” How far away? Laughlin? Henderson? Bisbee? El Paso? By that logic, coaches facing a road game in Miami ought to house their teams in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
- 49ers’ general manager John Lynch getting his swing at the piñata by saying Monday, “Raider fans, we're open for business. “Come and jump on our train.” Whispering in a graveyard is always a bad look, especially so soon after reminding us all that the Raider fan base is “too special” to ever feel comfortable tailgating at The Louvre . . . err, Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers no more want the Raiders than the Raiders want them, which is part of how this escalated even before Al Davis died.
- And finally, anyone who used the word “bittersweet” about any step in the process of taking a rich legacy’s property and taking it somewhere else. If you’re a player, you know the business requires accepting movement. If you’re a fan, you know the business requires understanding that your team is never actually yours. And if you are a media member, you got to spend a whole day passing on myths and nonsense and calling it wisdom . . . and that’s nice work if you stomach it.
PHOENIX – The Raiders were approved to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas on Monday by a 31-1 vote of NFL owners.
That doesn’t mean they’re leaving anytime soon. The Raiders plan to play two, possibly three more seasons in the East Bay before heading out of town.
The Raiders have one-year team options to play at the Oakland Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and plan to exercise them both while their Las Vegas stadium is being constructed.
Their new stadium won’t be ready for football until 2020, leaving a limbo year in 2019 without a temporary venue.
“If the fans would like us to stay there,” Davis said, “we’d love to be there for that and possibly talk to them about extending it for maybe 2019 as well and try to bring a championship back to Oakland.”
The Raiders are staying in the Bay Area because the Las Vegas area does not have a suitable venue to host NFL games. Sam Boyd Stadium hosts UNLV games, but would need upgrades, especially to the locker rooms and stadium security to host Raiders regular season games. There are talks of the Raiders playing a preseason game there in coming years.
The Raiders could play the 2019 season at other Bay Area venues, including Cal’s Memorial Stadium and Levi’s Stadium. Davis has been adverse to playing in the 49ers’ home park, but may be willing to using it as a temporary venue.
Much of that depends on fan reaction to permanent Vegas relocation. If attendance is down or fans are hostile, the Raiders could look elsewhere for temporary digs outside the Bay Area as soon as 2018 by sprucing up Sam Boyd. The Raiders need to build a practice facility in Nevada as well before moving there permanently.
If fans continue to support a rising squad expected to compete for a division and conference titles over the next few seasons, then the Raiders could stay put.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the Silver and Black will be the Oakland Raiders as long as they play in the Bay Area. The Raiders would like to stay there a while, though they can bail if things don’t work out.
“We’re still the Oakland Raiders and we are the Raiders and we represent the Raider Nation,” Davis said. “As I said earlier there’s going to be some disappointed fans and angry fans. It’s going to be up to me to talk to them and let them know why, how and what has happened. Hopefully we can work things out and work together for the future.”
Davis said any season ticket holders jilted by this move can receive refunds on deposits already paid.
“If any fans who have given season ticket deposits want refunds, we’d be happy to do that,” Davis said. “Well, not happily, but we would do so absolutely.”