The NFL has approved the Raiders’ relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Tim Brown, who spent 16 years with the organization – seven in Los Angeles, nine in Oakland – has mixed emotions.
“The phrase I’ve been using is I’m happy/sad,” the Hall of Famer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m happy that this organization has finally found a city that would build them a new stadium. They tried in L.A., couldn’t get it done. They tried in Oakland for over 20 years, couldn’t get it done. Finally, someone has agreed to do that. For that, I’m very happy. But obviously it’s sad because, again, the Raiders are moving, and they’re moving out of the city that everybody thinks they belong in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to come up with the funds to build that stadium. You must have a new stadium to compete for free agency and all that kind of stuff. The Raiders have never had that, as far as I’m concerned, and for them to have that opportunity is great.”
The Raiders went 12-4 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They’re finally good again, and now they’re leaving.
Raiders fans have to be somewhere between irate and inconsolable.
“Well, I think you’re going to have some folks that are going to voice their displeasure, simply because they won’t be able to drive down the street and see the team anymore,” Brown said. “They’re going to have to jump on the airplane or drive or do whatever in order to make that happen. I know that’s very frustrating to people who have supported the Raiders for all these years, but they have to understand that it is not the Raiders’ fault in this deal. Not that you want to fault the city – I’m sure there’s blame for everybody here – but the proposals that were given just weren’t good enough to put the Raiders in a positive situation if they did build the stadium back in Oakland.
“But look, the one thing I know about the Raider fans is they are full of resolve,” Brown continued. “Nothing has ever come easy for Raider Nation and for the Raiders’ organization, so I think from that standpoint, yes, I think initially there’s going to be a lot of emotions. I could see some boycotts the first game or two this year – unless this team is really, really good – but I think eventually they’re going to do what they do. They’re going to find a way to support this football team.”
Still, Brandon Tierney believes that fan anger will be palpable and that the Raiders’ final home game in Oakland, which should be in 2018 or 2019, will be a dangerous atmosphere. In fact, he thinks the national guard might be needed.
“I don’t believe so,” Brown said. “I really don’t. I’ve had the opportunity to deal with these guys pretty closely for the last almost 30 years. The one thing I know is they will listen to the right person. If the right people in front of them encourages them to not do certain things, I think they will certainly listen. Now what I think is incumbent upon the Raider organization and players the next couple of years is for them to get into the community and let these folks know how much they have appreciated them and will appreciate them in the next couple of years. That’s something that is not an easy thing for the Raiders because that’s not something the Raiders do as far as really getting deep into the community and doing things of that nature. I think they have to do that, but I have a lot more confidence in Raider Nation than maybe you do simply because I’ve dealt with them (for so long).”
“This is not something that the Raiders’ organization is necessarily good at, reaching out to the community and things of that nature,” Brown said. “When I was there my 16 years, if the players didn’t do it themselves, the Raiders didn’t do it. Yeah, they did a deal with the Boys & Girls Club, but as far as being there every day and doing things in the community, I think it’s going to be a little tougher for them. They got to get it done now because I believe what Brandon is saying: They will turn this place up if (the players) snub their nose at them, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to be gone in two years, so forget you guys.’ I think they have to really go over and above to appreciate these fans.”
The Raiders moved from Los Angeles to Oakland in 1995. Their next move, however, will be infinitely harder for the fan base to endure.
“The great thing about leaving L.A. was people in L.A., they don’t care,” Brown said. “They’ve got so much going on. But leaving Oakland is certainly going to be a lot tougher, no doubt about it.”