The Raiders might stay in Oakland, and then again, they might not. No one really knows.
Relocations are never easy, but they’re a little easier when the franchise is lifeless or underperforming. The Raiders aren’t that. Granted, they haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, but they won seven games last year, this after winning just seven games combined in 2013-14.
With a team so young and so promising, will the possible relocation be a distraction?
Maybe, maybe not.
“You would think it’d be a distraction,” former Raiders head coach and four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Flores said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When I coached in 1982 when there was a big strike and we were moving to L.A. . . . there’s all kinds of distractions. But we did not let it get to us. When you show up, you go through that door, you don’t worry what’s going on outside that building. We only lost one game that year until we went into the playoffs, and the following year we won the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. The distractions are many, but (it’s) usually overhyped. Right now, reality is reality, and right now, the chances of going to Vegas are probably, I’d say, 50/50.”
Oakland has won five games or fewer in 10 of the last 13 seasons, but you wouldn’t know it from the energy in the locker room and on the practice field. The Raiders enter the season with sky-high expectations – perhaps higher than any non-playoff team from a season ago.
“You can feel it when you walk in the building there,” Flores said. “Everything is just so positive. Jack Del Rio brought a new attitude. The Raiders have kind of – I hate to say it because I’ve been a Raider almost all my life – almost have forgotten how to win and what it took to win and what the feeling was. You got to bring that feeling back because winning becomes a habit. It’s an attitude. The pride and the history behind the Raiders, there’s a lot of things that are going on this year that I haven’t seen in a long time, and hopefully they can back it up with the play on the field. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t. And this is a pretty good year to make that move. Denver is going to have some issues because of their offense. They don’t even know who their quarterback is yet. Their defense is still outstanding, so that will be an issue to worry about. Kansas City is very good, and San Diego is kind of up in the air. So it’s a good time to get strong in the AFC West.”
The Raiders are loaded with young talent. You know about Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but Khalil Mack has the makings of a transcendent player. The 25-year-old defensive end has 152 tackles and three forced fumbles through two seasons, not to mention 19.0 sacks, including 15.0 from a year ago.
Is Mack as unique and as transcendent as analysts say he is?
“Well, I don’t think it’s over-sell,” Flores said. “He still has to do it and he has to do it consistently, and so far, he’s done it and he’s done it consistently in his first couple years. He’s a very unique individual. When I first saw him, I walked on the practice field and I told the coach, ‘Don’t tell me where he is. Let me find him.’ It didn’t take long. These guys stand out, and he’s been that way ever since he walked through the gates of the Raider facility. Yes, I have to say he is, but having said that, he’s got to continue to do it day in and day out – because that’s the test.”