Hey, Broncos, are you ready for some football (in Las Vegas)?
Duh Rai-duhs are going to Vegas. OK, they’ve not moving to the City of Sin until their new home is built. Until then, franchise owner Mark Davis has the nerve to ask die-hard fans to support him in Oakland. After years of being the worst team in the AFC West, the Raiders are leaving when they finally get good. That stinks.
Stinks indeed. Oakland was one of my favorite road trips (this is about me!). I’m guessing I’m in the minority of folks who have no desire to travel to Las Vegas (no offense, Vegas). The move seemed inevitable, especially after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pretty much told the mayor of Oakland: “So sorry. Game over.” Davis is fooling himself if he truly believes the Raiders won’t be viewed as a lame-duck team in Oakland, and he’s fooling himself if he believes these next couple of years will fly by.
I love the Black Hole. Yes, it’s a dump. But the place has soul, filled with noisy people dressed in costumes. It’s the football version of Mardi Gras. Las Vegas is built out of plastic by the money of losers. Maybe the Broncos shouldn’t care. They now have the best home-field advantage in AFC West by far. For the foreseeable future, winning on the road against the Raiders, as well as the Chargers, should be easier. Jhabvala: I think the Raiders’ impending move will rev up Raiders Nation even more. I love the atmosphere there. But I worry the hard feelings of the team’s departure could make it too dangerous to appreciate. But the Raiders’ fan base is incredibly loyal, and Davis might be right in thinking it’ll follow the team to Vegas.
Here’s the danger for the NFL, and it’s as real as the damage concussions have done to players. The league doesn’t care about the welfare of fans, as anybody in St. Louis, San Diego or Oakland could tell you. The primary purpose of an NFL stadium is as a television studio, rather than a place for the community to gather. For a stack of chips in Vegas, NFL owners sold the Raiders’ soul. Rip out the hearts of fans too often, and they will stop caring about the league.
The NFL is about money and the money will always come before safety or fans, no matter what the league says or tries to do to make you believe otherwise. Just look at its history. Relocation is about money, and the Raiders’ exit from Oakland has made many owners even richer. For years the NFL and other pro leagues were adamant about not moving to Vegas because of gambling. But at the right price, anything is possible.
Labor union member Geraldine Lacy on Monday celebrates in Las Vegas after NFL team owners approved the Raiders’ future move. John Locher, The Associated Press