The autumn wind is a pirate… but now my favorite NFL team really blows.
I grew up in Arkansas (don’t judge) so there was no geographic allegiance to any particular team. I gravitated to the Oakland Raiders, who were rebels, renegades, outlaws… and a darn good team back then too. It was the era of Madden, Stabler, Hubbard, Biletnikoff and Branch, Hendricks, Shell and Upshaw, Tatum and Atkinson, Hayes and Haynes. “A Commitment to Excellence” and “just win, baby.” But the past decade or so – ever since Jon Gruden ditched us for Tampa Bay – has been abysmal (and that’s putting it mildly). The Raiders made horrible draft choices (Hello JaMarcus!) and overpaid for fading stars (Javon Walker ring a bell? Didn’t think so.) or one-hit wonders (LaMont Jordan, anyone?)
Here’s the Raiders record since 2003. Lots of double-digit loss seasons. Zero winning seasons.
In the NFL, this sort of sustained suckiness isn’t supposed to happen. If you are bad one season, you get high draft choices and a softer schedule. At some point the tables should turn. But the Raiders apparently are truly committed to being very good at being very bad.
I feel a lot like Charlie Brown and each season the NFL is Lucy holding the football. “This year is the year the Raiders finally start their slow climb from mediocrity.”
So this past Sunday, the Raiders had their season opener. Home game. QB ready to take the next step after a promising rookie season. Strong linebacker corps. All they did was come out and lay the biggest egg of the opening weekend. Down 24-0 at halftime. Down 33-0 until a couple of garbage time scores. A total embarrassment.
Trying to look at the glass half full, the Raiders have done me the favor of freeing up my fall Sundays (and occasional Monday and Thursday nights). Instead of spending the day tuning in to their games, I can play with the kids, read the paper in the hammock, do some yard work or biking. They haven’t provided many wins, but they’ve given me back 4 hours every weekend, and time is the most precious gift of all. Go team!