Something dawned on me as I watched a Thursday Night Football game last week between the Chargers and Raiders, possibly the last NFL game in Oakland. I don’t want the Raiders to move to Los Angeles.
It’s a weird sentiment to have being that I’m an east-coast guy with no particular ties to Oakland or any actual care about the Raiders.
There was that one team, in 2002, when they made the Super Bowl with Rich Gannon, Charlie Garner, Tim Brown, and Jerry Rice, that I liked, and I’ve bought the Madden football game every year for as long as I can remember, but besides that the Raiders are basically obsolete to me, until they aren’t.
Even to someone like myself, who’s never been to Oakland, there’s a mystique about the area that seems to fit the persona of the Raiders, especially when they’re good. The big, bad, black and silver, the black hole, the lunatic fans, and the tradition that outdates myself but lingers enough for me to know its there. If the Raiders move to LA, it won’t feel the same.
Yes, I know it happened before. Back in 1982, the team moved from Oakland to LA and stayed until 1995, even winning the franchise’s last Super Bowl there, in 1983. But I like to think I speak for most people when I say we recognize the Raiders more as an Oakland team than a Los Angeles one.
That doesn’t sound like novel concept until you consider the fact that I don’t feel the same way about the Chargers and Rams, who are also possibilities to move to LA.
I want to preface what I’m about to say by acknowledging the core fan bases of these three teams, none of which want their teams to move, understandably. I wouldn’t want the Giants to leave the New York area. That being said, I really don’t care if the Chargers or the Rams move to Los Angeles.
The Chargers have been in San Diego for all of most of our lives, but it’s nothing about the city of San Diego that particularly connects the team to it for someone like myself, and I assume for others. Maybe it’s because the team is generally underwhelming from year-to-year. Even when they’ve been good, I never really thought they were THAT good, and they always fell short of expectations. For some reason, the team’s on-field success or lack thereof affected the perception of its connection with the city, although I’m sure it’s there for people actually living in the area. But outside of San Diego, and maybe the AFC West, who really cares if the Chargers leave?
The Rams have actually had the most recent success of the three teams, winning the Super Bowl in 1999. But even as transcendent as “The Greatest Show on Turf” was, my mind never fully made a connection between the Rams and St. Louis. Actually, even though I was just seven years old the last time the Rams played in LA, I’ve always kinda felt like it was an LA team. Maybe it’s from seeing Eric Dickerson highlights, or because older people still mistakenly slip and call them Los Angeles. I feel like they should be the first team of the three to consider a move to LA. The Raiders should be last.
As we all know, however, these moves will have less to do with franchise tradition and history and more to do with politics and money. Unfortunately, it looks as though Oakland is the likeliest to lose its team. My Giants don’t often play the Raiders, so my fan interest won’t change much, if any at all, but I think many share my sentiment that the Raiders don’t belong anywhere else.