Taiwan Jones proud to be a Raider on many levels

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Taiwan Jones proud to be a Raider on many levels

Suiting up in the Silver & Black is a dream come true for Bay Area native Taiwan Jones.

"You feel so fortunate to get drafted in your home town," Jones said.

And being a native of Oakland has made one of the Raiders' most recent community outreach projects that much more meaningful to Jones, who is a product of the Oakland Unified School System.

The running back attended Morris E. Cox Elementary in East Oakland, and had his eyes on the Raiders even as a kid. Now it has come full circle for Jones, as the Raiders have initiated a movement to give back to the school system, and the boys and girls who have big dreams just like he did as a child.

The Raiders launched a project this spring that allows individuals and businesses to assist Oakland public schools through their season ticket purchases.

"It's kind of ironic," Jones said, recognizing what this would have meant to him, and now knowing he has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids that are in a situation he remembers well.

"To be able to help give back and to see the Raiders help give back, I really appreciate that and I encourage others out there to do the same," Jones said.

Raiders fans can do just that. For all new season tickets purchased and paid for in full from May 1 to June 30, the team will donate 10 percent of the gross ticket purchase price to the Oakland Unified School District.

"We are thrilled to announce our newest youth and community based initiative and we are delighted to assist the Oakland Unified School District," said Raiders executive Amy Trask.

And for one young Oakland professional, it's hard to put in to words the magnitude of a program like this.

"It means a lot," Jones said. "I went to those schools, and those schools really need the support of others, so I really appreciate what the Raiders are doing for these schools."

And although Jones expressed to me the importance for the fans to get involved before the June 30 deadline, he made it clear that his efforts won't stop with this single event.

"Anything helps," Jones said, "going back and seeing the kids or giving them money for their programs... we really appreciate it... A lot of people watch TV and look up to the NFL so when the NFL (has) a chance to give back, I know kids really appreciate that."

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

The Raiders were clearly frustrated by Thursday night’s proceedings. A pivotal game against Kansas City didn’t go as planned, moving the Chiefs ahead in the AFC West with three games to play.

Few thought the Raiders would be able to win a game played two time zones away, in the bitter cold, on a short week. Players and coaches certainly did. They left Kansas City believing they could’ve and should’ve won.

Tackle Donald Penn wasn’t thrilled following this missed opportunity, and articulated how the entire team felt.

“My mindset is that I’m pissed right now,” Penn said. “I’m pissed. We had control and we gave it to somebody else.”

Records are now even at 10-3, but Kansas City has a tiebreaker in hand following a season sweep. The Raiders dropped into the wild-card pool and are currently the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

Those facts would only matter if the season ended today. It, you know, doesn’t. That makes the where-are-they-now exercise purely academic, with time for things to change.

“We will continue working,” running back Latavius Murray said. “Like Coach (Del Rio), ‘What we want in our goals and what we’re after, those things are still out there for us.’ We won’t let this determine who we are and what we want to accomplish."

Kansas City can win the division by winning out. They have home games against Tennessee and Denver before wrapping the season at San Diego, teams with a combined 19-17 record and two pushing for the playoffs.

The Raiders have a tough slate ahead, with a game at San Diego, home against Indianapolis and at Denver to end the year. That trio has an identical record to K.C.’s slate, with two common opponents.

So, with that in mind, the Raiders-Chiefs competition will continue through season’s end. How each team fares will determine the AFC West, although Denver shouldn’t be counted out quite yet.

That should make for a fantastic finish in a talented division that should qualify at least two teams for the postseason.

That also means the Raiders and Chiefs might meet again in the rivalry that will define the season for both teams.

“I feel pretty confident that both of our teams will end up in the playoffs,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There are still three games to be played. We’ll see how it ends up. They have the leg up right now, and did enough to win both games this year. For now, that’s all there is to the story. They’ve earned that. We’ll just have to get back on the right track next week.”

The Raiders may be down, but they definitely aren’t out of the division race. Thursday’s game was heavily hyped and rightfully so, but losing wasn’t a death sentence. A strong response could claim the division title or, at the very least, provide positive momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Raiders and Chiefs could meet again in January, when it truly matters most.

“There is a potential to play again,” quarterback Derek Carr said, “which is awesome.”

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Editor's Note: The above video is from Nov. 6, 2016.

As we consider with the distance and clarity of the new day the latest developments from the City of Oakland in the attempt to attract the Raiders to stay where they are, we are reminded of one very important thing.

The Raiders STILL aren’t a part of these talks. Haven’t been, don’t want to be, and unless put in a bind won’t consider it.

In other words, what we have here is a deal between a city and a developer to buy land and build something FOR NO INTERESTED TENANT. Why this has escaped most people is an amazement, but there we are.

So I am now willing to predict a third potential outcome for this slow-motion train to nowhere: The league kicks the can down the road, putting off making a decision on the fate of the Raiders until one of these deals gets sweetened to its liking.

Now, back to the hilarious present.

The only intriguing thing about this new term sheet between the City of Oakland (throw-weight, $200 million) and the Ronnie Lott-fronted Fortress group (throw-weight: $175 million for the land as a starter) is that it exists at all.

But it isn’t a deal that seems to be attracting much notice from the NFL, the Raiders, or really anyone else. It is Empty Gesture Theatre, and frankly, it probably shouldn’t be anything more than that. Cities have been screwed into near-bankruptcy pandering to sports teams for decades, and both Oakland and Nevada deserve better -- though people don't often recognize what they deserve.

Now let’s reiterate the problems here:

The Raiders desperately want to leave. Mark Davis believes his best chance at future glory is in Nevada, and nobody has been able to shift him off that position, even though he has apparently been told as recently as two weeks ago that he does not yet have the 24 votes from his fellow owners at present.

Oakland has neither the money nor the political will to make a proposal that will dazzle the Raiders into staying. Mayor Libby Schaaf has committed the city to $200 million in infrastructure costs and no more, and part of the time-honored stadium soak is that a city throws in a lot more money, either through bond issues, tax increases, free land or a deal with the concrete guy. That cities shouldn’t even be in this business has dawned on Schaaf, and she really wants out of this deal is a regular tenant who will see to it that the taxes are paid in regular installments.

The NFL is frustrated that Oakland isn’t playing the city’s traditional role as a sucker. It doesn’t much like the Fortress people, either, which is still slightly more benign than its view of Las Vegas Casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who is still a linchpin of the Vegas deal even though he threatens to leave.

In short, Oakland provided no particular reason to have the owners look more kindly upon it, at a time when they want a reason to reject Vegas on market-size grounds. It is in many ways the Carson-v.-Inglewood fight of 11 months ago, in which the league’s owners had to decide on the site they liked (Inglewood and Rams owner Stan Kroenke) against the guy they liked (San Diego Changers owner Dean Spanos).

They voted the money, as you knew they would. The Rams are building in Inglewood, and apparently will joined, albeit with great reluctance, by the Chargers, who were rejected with great vigor by the voting citizens of San Diego last month.

Now in this scenario, the Vegas deal is the one with the short-term money but the long-term danger signs, while the Oakland deal has the market size but not the money or the will. And in the Oakland deal, the league doesn’t have direct leverage over Davis to modify his level of franchise control, which it very much wants to happen sooner rather than later.

So the other 31 owners can either accept one deal they don't like, another deal they don’t like, or give it another year in hopes that some deus ex machina will appear and make the decision for them. Typically the NFL at its most powerful had the outcome cemented ahead of time and just acted, but this is not the NFL of 20 years ago. It has been reactive throughout, letting events come to it, in exchange for which it now has two unappealing options with which to deal.

So I would expect the NFL to consider its options and delay a decision yet again. It wants neither Adelson, Fortress, the Oakland plan or the Vegas market, so it is most likely, barring some radical change in the current equation, to wait for a more clement time to strong-arm its desired conclusion upon everyone.

In the true spirit of NFL Christmas: Ho ho ho, and hands up, suckers.