ALAMEDA -- Word began to filter out Wednesday afternoon that a resolution between the NFL and its locked-out referees was imminent. And while nothing was official at the time, the Raiders were asked about it following practice.Following, then, a sampling of thoughtsCoach Dennis Allen: "Whenever they get the officials back, thatll be good."Quarterback Carson Palmer: "As players we cant really focus on that or worry about that. Weve got enough to worry about just with studying the game plan we got today and finishing up through the week."Running back Darren McFadden: "I'll be glad to see them out there."Defensive back Michael Huff: "Dammit. I like the replacement refs."Huff quickly broke into a grin: "Nah, either way, whether we're out there with real refs orreally, it's football. I know Green Bay's not excited about the replacement refs but, I feel bad for them but whether they're back or not, we're still going to go out there and play football."Huff was then asked what he liked about the replacements, the Raiders' penalties being down, was he able to "get away" with certain things? Besides, a year after averaging 10.2 penalties for 84.9 yards per game in setting single-season records for penalties (163) and penalty yardage (1,358), the Raiders were averaging 4.7 penalties for 34 yards through three games with the replacement refs."I can't say on film," he laughed again. "Nah, either way, between the lines it's football so I mean the real refs call things different from the replacement refs so I don't really, I don't know. Whoever's out there, it's football, so we'll just play."Jokingly told he was a cheater, Huff still smiled: "Ah, if you're not cheating, you're not trying. Isn't that what they say?"
Marshawn Lynch took some time to agree on contract terms with the Raiders. The Oakland native formally joined the Silver and Black a day before the NFL Draft, which served as a soft deadline for his commitment to unretire and join his hometown team.
The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by Lynch since acquiring his rights from Seattle on April 26, starting with unbridled enthusiasm upon signing his new contract.
He reported to the Raiders offseason program in tremendous shape despite being out of football in 2016, and has been a full participant in workouts he was apathetic towards in Seattle. Lynch has also fit right in to the Raiders locker room culture since joining the club.
“He has been great,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He has been great in meetings. He has been great on the field. He’s going well in terms of his physical progress. He’s doing quite nicely and we think he’s going to be a great help on the field.
“Off the field, he has meshed very well with the team and is already entrenched as one of the guys. It’s going well with him.”
While it took some time to navigate a complex acquisition process, McKenzie said it went relatively smooth.
“Prior to getting him, I had no setbacks thinking he was not going to be able to get here,” McKenzie said. “My communication with Seattle and Marshawn’s people was great. Everyone indicated that he wanted to play. That’s all we needed to know. The fact he wanted to be a Raider was icing on the cake. We went through the process and got it done. He’s excited, and so are we.”
The Raiders now have a deep running back group. Lynch’s physical rushing style is the focal point of an attack that also features smaller, elusive rushers Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Those guys will run behind a productive offensive line considered among the NFL’s best.
LAS VEGAS -- The public board that oversees the proposed stadium where the Raiders want to start playing in 2020 on Thursday unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the facility after months of negotiations that were affected by the sudden exit of an instrumental financial backer of the $1.9 billion project.
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority board was running up against a deadline to approve the lease to avoid delaying the team’s relocation by a year, as NFL owners gathering next week in Chicago plan to take up the document. It addresses various aspects related to the 65,000-seat stadium, including insurance, repairs, maintenance, naming rights and a rent-free provision.
“We got to the finish line in time, but we didn’t start real well, and obviously, that kind of set off some events,” board chairman Steve Hill said after the meeting. “We lost six weeks in the process, but we made up for it, the Raiders made up for it, and we are here today where we need to be.”
The six weeks were lost after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project just days after the first draft of the lease agreement, which included a $1 annual rent, was unveiled in January. The billionaire’s move sent the team searching for $650 million to fill the financial gap he created.
The team ended up securing a loan from Bank of America. Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million through a room tax increase, while the Raiders and the NFL all along have been expected to contribute $500 million.
The document approved Thursday to the cheers of workers in the Laborers Union and others is conditional upon other agreements being reached between the team, the board and other entities. The team would not pay rent under the 30-year agreement, but it would have to contribute to a fund that would cover capital expenses that come up as the facility ages.
The agreement also gives the team the right to name the stadium and prohibits any type of gambling in the premises.
Next on the board’s priority list is an agreement that would allow the football team of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to use the facility. The team also has to figure out parking options for the stadium that will be built near the Las Vegas Strip, west of the Mandalay Bay casino-resort. The land they recently purchased is not big enough to accommodate the one-spot-per-four-seats county requirement.
Raiders President Marc Badain said the design for the stadium has been finalized, but renderings will not be unveiled immediately.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” he said after the lease was approved. He added that the team has heard from entities interested in the stadium’s naming rights.