During Jack Del Rio’s tenure in Oakland, the Raiders enjoyed one bright season. Before that, darkness cascaded over the Nation like ominous storm clouds. With Jon Gruden poised to bring them team back to perennial respectability, we can look back at the darker days of Raiders fandom. FPC writers Berry, Zaragoza, Simmons, and Aspuria discuss their lowest points watching the Raiders
Lowest point as a Raiders fan is twofold. I am still mad they passed on Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson in the same draft. In addition, taking Robert Gallery over Larry Fitzgerald remains irritating. However, the Super Bowl blowout coincided with my older sister’s birthday in Vegas in 2003. She stopped watching football and rooting for the Raiders for a while. It is still a sore point for her. Moreover, I lost a bet and got into a fight because of that game.
The JaMarcus Russell era. Losing, dysfunction, and frustration riddled JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders. When Oakland drafted Russell first overall 2007, they passed on Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas. Instead of a future Hall of Famer, they chose a guy who struggled to read a defense. Also, he lacked the leadership required to lead a team. Russell won seven games in his short career and threw more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18).
By far, the lowest point for me was actually being at Hue Jackson’s last game in Oakland. The Raiders owned a clear chance to make the playoffs. Hue had talked the team up so much, and the Carson Palmer trade was a terrible gamble. Jason Campbell never really played anywhere else; McFadden would go years before having another solid season. Also, Hue Jackson would win just two more games as a head coach. What’s worse? I was at that game and the whole stadium watched as Vincent Jackson caught a third quarter touchdown that absolutely finished the season.
It was the first time that I genuinely wondered if the Raiders would ever win again in my lifetime. This is after a childhood sportsfandom marred by The Tuck Rule, Jamarcus Russell, and the Randy Moss trade. I left the Oakland Coliseum that night knowing only one thing; the Raiders would not have a first round draft pick for two seasons. I knew Palmer would go, I knew Hue was gone, I knew even then as a ‘Town Native, the team could go. Newer and younger fans are thankful for Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, and Gabe Jackson, The get credit for elevating the team from the gutter to the street.
Watching Todd Downing faceplant is a neophyte offensive coordinator. He was handed keys to a Lamborghini and by time dude was finished, the Raiders offense was more Geo Prism than sleek well-oiled machine. The Raiders gained respect only to see it disappear like a fart in the wind. The rudimentary offense made Derek Carr resemble Andrew Walter, and that was blasphemy in the highest level.