Goodbye to MY Oakland Raiders

March 27, 2017. Darkness hovers over my sports fandom.

The NFL, spurred on by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, approved the Oakland Raiders relocation move to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Raiders.

excuse me while I tend to some digestive discomfort

The Raiders.

The Raiders.

You say that name and you automatically think, Oakland.

And if you don’t, who are you?

*

In all seriousness, the Raiders are Oakland. You see it in their fan base: passionate, tough, hard-working. In other words, they care.

As is the nature of sports in today’s world, the Raiders don’t care about them in return. “Raiders” in this context means Mark Davis.

Full disclosure: I am a life-long Oakland Raiders fan. Back in 2014, I wrote about the state of the team and how I thought Davis should sell. Although they returned to the playoffs this past season and are on an upward trajectory with a talented core of players, I still think Davis should have sold the team.

I didn’t like his leadership, particularly in light of the departure of former team CEO Amy Trask. Trask, who had been with the organization for decades, wouldn’t leave without good reason is what I thought. She may say it was “time” or she wanted to “pursue other opportunities”, which she has done.

But, my instincts told me there was more to it.

Trask was (and still is) fiercely loyal to Al. Although I disagreed with some (many) of the decisions Al made over the years, there was no denying his passion for his team: The Raiders.

Mark Davis is no Al Davis.

*

Mark Davis is doing what’s best for Mark Davis. In his best Al Davis-impression, he is uprooting the team from its home, its fans, its core and heading to (greener) $$$$$$$ pastures in Vegas.

I’m sure the people of Vegas will love it, initially. Businesses will love it too. Incoming fans might love it…until they see how much more everything costs to stay in Vegas. That $750 million Vegas & the state of Nevada are ponying up for a new stadium has to come from somewhere, right? Taxes upon taxes levied at out-of-town visitors.

You don’t just go to Vegas.

You do Vegas – or so I hear.

Gambling, shows, cuisine, other unmentionables that I don’t know about – it all adds up, financially. Now tack on the astronomical cost of hotels to pay for the stadium? Yeah, that’s not blue-collar. That’s not the Raiders.

That’s Mark Davis.

*

Let’s not forget all of the other events that will take place at this fancy new stadium. The Raiders only have eight home games, plus two preseason ones. 10 dates for NFL football. What about the other 355 days of the year?

Vegas will probably be more successful than other cities with NFL stadiums at luring top-level sporting and entertainment events. According to LasVegasNow.com interest is already heating up, “Events at the stadium would fill hotel rooms all over the city during the slower months and they are already in talks with Europe’s top soccer teams to come here.”

European soccer clubs? Nope, that’s not my Raiders.

Take a team out of a city and the owner changes the name. In my heart of hearts, the Raiders will always be Oakland, the city of my birth.

But, when I step back and look at this scenario with no emotional attachment, I ask myself one question: Why do teams have to use a city/state in their name at all?

Sure, it’s tradition and all, but in today’s day and age where teams relocate like what we’ve see in the NFL (three in the past 16 months), why do teams need to have the city/state as part of the name anymore?

Yes, Steelers fans, I can hear you now. The Steelers will never leave Pittsburgh. Sorry, but the Rooneys won’t always own the team and if they do, who’s to say they’ll have the business sense of the current crop?

Never is a long time and life is unpredictable.

*

Cliches aside, at their highest levels, sports teams are loyal only to themselves in business. If a better business option is available, they will take it.

The Raiders.

To me and so many other Raiders fans, they will always be the Oakland Raiders. But, teams don’t owe fans any loyalty in business. Those who choose to do so, well done. You don’t have to, but you do. You try to operate in good faith – keep it up.

Even when they moved to Los Angeles, I still cheered for the team because they were the Raiders. There was always a possibility that they would return, so it didn’t make sense not to root for them. I was thrilled when they did as that where they belonged.

Now, the Raiders are leaving again. Returning will be out of the question – they’re gone.

As long as they are in Oakland, I will cheer for them. How can I not when they have players like Deek Carr:

As for when they arrive in Vegas, well, I don’t know how I will feel. It’s disappointing right now, sure. But, anyone who says they know how they will feel in a few years (next year?) time, is either fooling with you or fooling themselves.

This move is yet another notch in my move away from sports team fandom. I “loved” the Raiders because they were the city of my birth – the first team I ever cheered for. Growing up in Arizona pre-Cardinals, there was no NFL team to cheer for.

The Oakland Raiders were my team. 

They were my first “sports” love.  

Like first loves in life, you don’t forget your first sports love. It’s forever embedded in your memory. Perhaps for some, they still have that connection to it. The passion and emotion is still strong after decades together. Others aren’t so blessed. Just ask St. Louis, San Diego, Hartford (NHL), Atlanta (NHL), Seattle (NBA), Vancouver (NBA)…

Still, some try to reunite with that first love, even when they’ve made it clear…they don’t want you back. It’s hard to let that first love go. 

Deep down, Mark Davis doesn’t want Oakland Raiders fans. He wants Raiders fans.

No city.

No allegiance.

No love. 

Even when in L.A., I never left my Oakland Raiders fandom. 

But now, it’s leaving me.

***

CadChica Sports

Life Lessons from The Book of Amy Trask

The Book of Amy Trask

Just write, baby.

I could hear the voice of Amy Trask, channeling Al Davis, telling me to write. Write what, you ask? Write about the emotions and struggle I felt during and after reading her new book, You Negotiate Like A Girl (written with Mike Freeman). Emotions? Struggle? From a book? Yeah, read on…

*
Leadership

Journey to Leadership

 

When I reached that last chapter, I knew the journey was coming to an end. But, I didn’t want it to end. I felt as though I was reading about a part of my life that I never knew before. As a lifelong Oakland Raiders fan, I felt as if I was peeking into something I shouldn’t be — the man who represented the Raiders, Al Davis.

Represented doesn’t even seem like the right word, does it? Al Davis was, and in some ways still is, the embodiment of the Raiders. In my formative years, he seemed both brilliant and disconnected. Maniacal and innovative. Rebellious and…well, let’s just leave it there.

Here I was reading about Davis from someone who worked closely with him, Amy Trask. Trask was the Raiders CEO at the time of her departure – the first female executive in the history of the NFL. She worked her way up through the organization the right way – with hard work, determination and passion for the organization.

But, what impressed me most about Trask wasn’t just how she handled the relationship with Davis. That, in itself, was no easy task (She always tried ‘not to f— it up!’). No, what impressed me most was – is – her outlook on work and life. In many ways, it surpasses many of the leadership books written by so-called experts, gurus and motivational speakers.

  • Listening Skills – “Reasoned and reasonable arguments intended to problem solve can be valuable. I don’t believe, however that such arguments should ever include ad hominem attacks.” (excerpt from chapter 7, “Get the Sandwiches”)
  • Company-minded thinking: Trask made a concerted effort to learn all she could about the organization from top to bottom, even when she wasn’t yet at the top. Understand how things currently work within so you know what works and what doesn’t.
  • Encourage team dialogue: Trask was cognizant of how every cog in the wheel is important. She encouraged a team-effort to help get the Raiders through the lock-out a few years back. 
  • Think like a fan: I cannot overemphasize this point enough. I’ve been preaching this for years on Twitter to sports marketers. You want to connect with and reach fans, think like them. Amy Trask made it a point to sit with fans, talk with them, use stadium concessions and facilities like they do. Guess what? It worked. 
One doesn’t become CEO of a major sports team in the U.S. without qualities like these. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to live it, then write about it. I don’t know that Trask and Freeman set out to write this book for its leadership tips, but I gleaned many tips from the stories and anecdotes they shared in it.
 
*

Not In My Twitter Village

 

If Trask is never named commissioner of the NFL, can she be named Twitter Commissioner instead? Twitter Czarina? Twitter Princess of Darkness? (More on that in a moment.)
As I closed the book, I had tears in my eyes. Tears because the journey “with” Trask was over. Tears because of all of the stories told (don’t even get me started on what she says about her nameless husband). Tears because of the “what ifs” about “my” Raiders. Tears because I knew I needed to write this review, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t matter. Nobody would read it anyway.

Just write, baby.

There are days when I open Twitter on my phone or TweetDeck on my desktop or laptop and I either a) cringe b) shake my head c) feel like crying d) sigh e) immediately close it. The Twitter of today isn’t what it used to be when I joined back in 2009. Today, it’s a cacophony of look-at-me’s, I’ve got an opinion and you WILL listen and arguments with no one listening.

And that’s just in sports media.

Then I heard a voice. It wasn’t Amy channeling Al this time. It was Amy saying,
Not in my Twitter village.

Amy Trask is a leader. Not a perfect leader, as she would tell you. But, she is a leader who understands the big picture. To reach the conclusion, you need to work out the story first. The story cannot have 10-20, 50-100, 500-1000 different writers each trying to write their own plot. There needs to be a common theme, a common goal to the overarching story.

This won’t happen without communication. Communication requires not just talking but listening too. Listening has become a lost art in many sport media circles.

Call it what you will: the chains/muzzles/restrictions/whatever have been removed for sports media with the advent of Twitter. Before, they could not show any partiality on any non-sports topics. Well, they could, but…not a good look for the employer – a journalist showing a bias about a subject matter meant they couldn’t be unbiased about anything.

Those days are gone. It’s been a blessing and a curse. There is more rhetoric, more bickering, more discord, more (dare I say it) self-importance than ever before. Then again, it’s always been there. It just didn’t have a method of delivery that spreads as quick as Twitter. Twitter has become this generation’s sports talk radio – only instead of callers being screened or certain types of hosts getting on air, everyone gets to talk.

Not in my Twitter village.

Darn it, Amy Trask.

What “You Negotiate Like A Girl” reminded me is to ‘be true to myself’. That has been Trask’s mantra, passed down to her by her mother (to thine own self be true). Trask has operated in that mindset her entire adult life, all the while encountering various levels of resistance.

Trask didn’t looked at her gender as a help or hindrance, although some did and do on both sides of the coin. She didn’t look at race, although she was fully cognizant of it in her organization – the Raiders did many “firsts” along this line – and in society as a whole (read her Nolan Harrison story in the book).Trask story

For her, it was about what you did not who you were. Do your job, whatever that may be, and do it to the best of your ability. You’ll be rewarded based on what you did not who you were (i.e. not because of your gender or race). Don’t whine about what you don’t or didn’t get – make your work so good that you can’t help but be noticed. Learn all you can about your job, help others when you can and just work, baby.

To read Trask’s perspective on this mindset is affirmation for me. My book is filled with folded corners, underlined sentences and numerous margin comments – some of the YES or AMEN variety. I know I’ll have to re-read it to gain even more perspective, but being true to who I am…

 

*

Final Thoughts

To me, if we want equality, we can be cognizant of discrepancies and differences that exist all while not operating in them. How? Don’t promote one at the expense of another. Work hard, be determined, learn your craft, listen well, leave toxic environments, champion others and surround yourself with those who believe in you for you.

Communication – which is BOTH listening and speaking – is paramount in any discussion on equality. We may end up agreeing to disagree, but at least we aim to dialogue WITH one another. We need to listen to each other’s point of view instead of screaming (in all caps, of course):  I’M RIGHT. MY POINT OF VIEW IS RIGHT. MY INTERPRETATION IS RIGHT. YOU’RE WRONG ON ALL COUNTS. 

It all starts with respect. Respecting people as human beings. Respecting that they are a person with value no matter who they are or what they represent. They are uniquely created human beings with a mind and a soul. We don’t have to agree with their actions, but they are human beings. 

When we as a society begin to view people in that way, society’s mindset will change. A Herculean task, to be sure. But, given where society is currently at, there needs to be a mindset change. A “village mindset”? Maybe. 

If you follow Amy Trask on Twitter, you understand many of these concepts when she talks about her “Twitter village”. However, if you do follow Amy on Twitter and haven’t read the book, I suggest that you read it. Not only will you learn about her journey, Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders and leadership, but you might even learn a little about yourself if you’re willing to…

Just listen, baby. 

***

CadChica Sports

RIP Kenny Stabler, RIP Snake

I love the Oakland Raiders.

They are my team – the first team I ever cheered for. I like to joke that I came out of the womb saying RAAAAAAIIIIIIIII-DERS, instead of crying like most babies.

I was born in Oakland but raised in Arizona. There was no NFL team at the time, so I went with the team of my birthplace. Silver-and-black. No other team had silver-and-black. For whatever reason, I found that cool as a kid.

The Raiders became part of my identity. I was a good kid (at least I think so), but the Raiders weren’t. They were rebellious and did things their own way, led by owner Al Davis. They played hard. On and off the field, not that I would have known that when I was a kid. But, they were gritty and tough and they represented everything I thought of Oakland to be.

And Kenny Stabler represented the Raiders.

Stabler’s #12 was the only “jersey” I owned as a kid. I loved Cliff Branch too, but Stabler was “The Snake”. He was one of those quarterbacks that knew when to be elusive and knew when to hang tough in the pocket. His scrambling ability, well, I just thought that was so awesome. I didn’t see anyone else like him in the NFL.

Not that I paid attention, mind you (notable exception: Fran Tarkenton). Stabler was my guy. He was the quarterback on my team. He was special to watch:

 

He should be in the Hall of Fame, but he’s not. Longtime NFL writer, Russell Baxter, had this to say when asked about Stabler as a hall of famer: “I think he is. There was always the thing about him “reading the playbook by the light of the jukebox”. He was a magician. He was something to watch. The two guys I thought were the best were Staubach and Stabler.”

 

Baxter continued, “They (Raiders) were phenomenal teams in a conference where there were two other phenomenal teams: Dolphins, Steelers. There was nothing better in the 70’s than the Raiders-Steelers. It started with the Immaculate Reception and just kept getting better.” Stabler was a key part of that rivalry. Bradshaw gets the notoriety because of the Super Bowl victories and broadcast career, but Stabler was every bit the quarterback and more. 

“He was a model of consistency,” says Baxter. “I know people will go over the numbers. Before the rules changed, 70’s quarterbacks were nothing about the numbers. They were all about controlling the game. Stabler was a great player on a great team that was unfortunately overshadowed by greater teams.”

***

I’m sad today knowing Snake is gone. Almost to the point of tears, which isn’t normal for me. But, he was part of my childhood. I saw Stabler as the heart and soul of my Raiders. Whatever the Raiders were about, you saw it in Stabler.

He was the epitome of my team, on and off the field. I didn’t know anything about his partying ways when I was a kid. I probably wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted him to win.

And winning he did.

If you grew up as a Raiders fan, you loved Stabler. There was no one else you wanted as your quarterback. I’m glad I got the chance to see him, albeit never in person. I’m glad he was my quarterback.

RIP Kenny Stabler. RIP Snake.

***

TWEETS ON THE SNAKE

***

CadChica Sports

Menelik Watson: Game Check Doing Good

giving

The goal: to make a difference by having a voice. 

I love sports. I love talking about sports. But, to work in this business, you have to go to school, get a degree and work your way up. I’m not a millenial. For someone like me, who was busy working 50+ hours a week and raising a family, yeah, that wasn’t going to cut it. 

That’s where social media comes into play. Social media was my way in to working in sports. It was about “having a voice” in the sports conversation. Through Twitter, Google+ and my blog, I have a voice. In the time I’ve been involved with social media, I learned a thing or two (or thousands) about it and its place in sports. I’ll never be and expert at it, but I know how to use it. 

I know that I also want to use it to make a difference. How that plays out – well, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I do know I want to share the “good” stories in sports. Stories like this one: 

Full disclosure: The Oakland Raiders are my favorite team. 

**

I may not be in a position to give away a game check. Or, even fly a sick child somewhere to visit their favorite team. There are things I can do both in and out of the public eye. I’d prefer to do most things out of the spotlight. Not that there’s even a spotlight on me, but that’s just how I operate – without fanfare.   

The easy thing I can do is on social media through my hashtag, #SportsDoingGood. The bad side of sports and athletes gets the clicks and shares. But, there are plenty of athletes and other sports entitities doing good through sports. Why not click and share the good through a simple hashtag? 

Since it is the holiday season, why not share this story across all of your social media platforms today. Show the good being done in sports.

It’s your voice – your social media voice – will you use it to make a difference? 

h/t @FTW

**

By the way: Happy birthday (today), Menelik Watson! 

***

CadChica Sports

End the Davis-Era in Oakland

The very first team I can remember cheering for was the Oakland Raiders. 

There was no team in Phoenix, Arizona where I lived. Yes, we had the Phoenix Suns, but there was something about the Oakland Raiders – my birthplace – that had my attention. Maybe it was the colors, The Silver and Black. Or, maybe it was the attitude they played with: Ted Hendricks, Lyle Alzado. Or, maybe it was the contrarian in me that made me love them – they were the anti-America’s Team (Dallas Cowboys). 

Or, maybe it was all of those things rolled into one big dose of Raiders fandom. I’m a Raiders fan. 

The Raiders are winners of three Super Bowls. The last one they won? Way back when in 1983. I was still in school. I was a youngin’. 

I was, I was, I was. 

And that’s what it’s been like for Oakland Raiders fans for decades now. Oh sure, there have been playoff appearances, but these days, the Raiders are the butt of jokes. No Commitment to Excellence in this decade. Or, the previous decade (Super Bowl appearance excluded) for that matter. 

sigh

***

Just how bad is it? 

Fired over the phone? Not competitive? 

Unacceptable. 

As the Raiders have declined, my NFL fandom has waned. Oh, I still cheer for the Raiders. But, the days of must-watch NFL viewing has nearly become non-existent. I’ll check on the Raiders on game day (score only), but I’m more inclined to watch college football, basketball and soccer. I’ll always be a fan of the Raiders, but right now, they’re not showing me they want it with their ineptitude. 

Call it the Al Davis effect. For all his genius and innovation, the decline of the Raiders coincided with Davis’ decline. As Davis aged, so did his patience for coaches, his “keen eye” for talent – the Raiders slippage is on him…and now his son, owner Mark Davis. 

No, nothing will change with the Oakland Raiders. Davis can move them to a new city, but the results will remain the same. Unless he sells to someone new. Preferably someone who will keep them in Oakland (long-shot on that). But, the Raiders decline is a sad one for a once storied NFL (and previously, AFL) franchise. 

Speaking as a fan – enough with a Davis-owned Oakland Raiders team. Fresh vision is what the Raiders organization needs. Fresh vision for this decade, this century. They won’t get it unless Davis sells the team. 

It’s time for an end to the Davis-era in Oakland. 

***

CadChica Sports

Spanning the Twitterverse: #RIP Al Davis

Spanning the Twitterverse to bring you the constant variety of tweets
The thrill of the retweet and the agony of the unfollow
The human drama of the twitter timeline
This is CadChica’s Wide World of Tworts
_______________________________________________________

I am stunned, shocked, whatever you want to call it this morning. Al Davis, Oakland Raiders’ owner, died this morning. WOW! That was my first tweet this morning. In case you are new to this site or to me on Twitter, I am a Raiders fan. Yes, even through the down years. 

I was born in Oakland. While I didn’t live there for very long, it is my birthplace and part of my identity. Growing up in a sports-minded family, my earliest recognition of being a fan is watching the Raiders. I put together that I was born in Oakland, there was a team named Oakland so that must be my team. The logic of a 4 year old (I think) cannot be reasoned with. They were my team. In fact, they were “my first true love”.

While in recent years, the Raiders, and in particular Al Davis had become a joke, a punchline, if you will, there is a legacy that is intertwined with the NFL that cannot be severed. Al Davis did many great things for professional football, some of which you can read on ESPN, FOX Sports, NFL.com,  Raiders.com, or Al Davis in a photo history on CBS.com.

As a Raiders fan, that doesn’t mean I agreed with everything Al Davis did. Far from it. I didn’t agree with how he handled certain individual player situations. But the Raiders were MY team. The very first team I ever followed. And I knew, as any true Raiders fan knows, Al Davis WAS the Raiders.

You may see a tweet here from Yahoo! Sports’ Doug Farrar expressing a hope that people will understand that Al Davis is more than a punchline. As Magic Johnson says below, he did march to the beat of his own drum. But, his significance to the NFL itself, cannot be brushed aside easily. Prayers for his family, friends and the entire Raiders family.

Here is Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement and then the Twitterverse reaction :

 _______________________________________________________

 “Al Davis’s passion for football and his influence on the game were extraordinary.  He defined the Raiders and contributed to pro football at every level.  The respect he commanded was evident in the way that people listened carefully every time he spoke.  He is a true legend of the game whose impact and legacy will forever be part of the NFL.” ~ Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

 _______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

TWO TWEETS OF THE DAY

_______________________________________________________________________

CadChica Sports