For Raiders fans, the decade is weird. We said goodbye to an iconic owner. We ushered in Mark Davis. There was the Reggie McKenzie era. Reconstruction, rebuilds, retools and more reconstruction. Then Gruden came back. Mayock came out of nowhere…
RaidersTwitter was a thing. It was a great place to find Raiders other Raiders fans. Then it turned into us bickering about the future of McKenzie, Carr, Del Rio, Gruden, Vegas and everything else. Raiders facebook groups went strong. Blogs came and went. Writers came on while others left. Podcasts became mainstream.
How will the Oakland Raiders this decade be remembered? What will you tell your kids about the Raiders in the 2010s? The 2010s will go down with the 1990s as the decade that did not feature at least a Super Bowl appearance. In fact, the Raiders only made the playoffs once this decade. They really only had a shot in half of the years because their roster was so bad some years.
Coaches came and went. Hue Jackson pulled up. Tom Cable came and went and then came back as an offensive line coach. Dennis Allen was a time we’d all like to forget.
The Silver and Black flirted with Los Angeles, San Antonio, Portland and anywhere else they could get a stadium. They settled on Las Vegas thanks to a failure in Carson and a ton of public funds via a VAT tax.
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Davis surprised us all. Not with his food choices, whips or haircut. It was the ability to get a city to build the facilities they always dreamed of. He failed on Los Angeles and fell forward.
Free agents like Justin Tuck, David Amerson, Donald Penn, James Jones and Michael Crabtree surprised us as bargains. Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson were as advertised. Other free agents like Rashaan Melvin, LaMarr Woodley, Austin Howard drove us mad. Maurice Jones-Drew, Ron Bartell, Derrick Johnson, Leon Hall, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and others showed us the last of their game. Remember Matt Schaub? How about Matt Flynn? Carson Palmer started the decade. Terrelle Pryor came on and that was a thing. Charles Woodson made a triumphant comeback. Marshawn Lynch made us feel good despite the team being mediocre. The Rodger Saffold debacle…
We also can’t forget the draft picks either. Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski and LaMarr Houston held it down early in the decade. Marcel Reece is a legend. Desmond Bryant, Stacy McGee, Seth Roberts and Mo Hurst developed into late round gems. Jamize Olawale was cool, too. Rolando McClain, Darren McFadden and DJ Hayden flashed but mostly gave us headaches. While Aldon Smith gave us a glimpse of false hope. Karl Joseph also had his fair share of injuries. Some guys like Obi Melifonwu, Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards, Eddie Vanderdoes, Justin Ellis, Menelik Watson and more never even sniffed what they should have.
Ups and Downs
Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and Jalen Richard broke some games for us. Louis Murphy, Taiwan Jones and Chaz Schillens sold us on potential. Tony Bergstrom? Jon Feliciano? Joe Barksdale? The Linebackers, so many linebackers… and corners. Cough, Gareon Conley. Oh, and tight ends. Jared Cook, Brandon Myers, Kevin Boss, Lee Smith, and Clive Walford. Probably forgetting someone too. Jon Condo, Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler were all OGs. Marquette King seems like a trivia question down the line.
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The point is there wasn’t a lot of constant across the decade. The exceptions are Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson. Six seasons later they’re one of the few hold overs from the last few years. I’m not sure if they’re the future of the 2020s or Vegas but they were the face of the 2010s.
Recent Past and Hopeful Future
Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack are also a big part of this story. Not only were they dominate for the 3-4 seasons they played with the team. They were blue collar guys who helped build the culture. Their trades also tested Raiders fans loyalty to the team and head coach Jon Gruden. Their draft picks will also make the team’s future heading to the next decade.
Speaking of which, Gruden made his return. He ruffled some feathers. Sold us some fool’s gold and got on HBO. Knock if you with me. I mean, we also closed the decade with Richie Incognito, Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown all being on the roster at some point.
Gruden did find Darren Waller, Jonathan Hankins, Tyrell Williams and a few other solid players who are good contributors and might be moving forward.
Tahir Whitehead, LaMarcus Joyner, Curtis Riley, JaMarcus Webb and other fall into a different category.
Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, Jonathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen flashed enough that they could be key contributors to this franchise. Jacobs especially if he stays healthy.
Oh, and I almost forgot Tim Brown made the Hall of Fame. Kenny Stabler and Ray Guy finally too. Several legends passed. You might not remember any of this and that is okay. The point is the 2010s was filled with change and influx. It seems all like a blur of mediocrity and false hope.
Farewell to Home
The one real constant was Oakland. Yes, we played in the last dual purpose stadium, a baseball field. Yes, the toilets flooded. Plus, the Silver and Black traveled all over the world for home games. Yes, they had their fair share of asswhoopings. But, it was one of the last old venues. How many tailgate memories did everybody make? How many lifelong experiences were shared?
That brings me back to my original point. Fans inside and outside of Oakland were the real constant. The Black Hole. The Autumn Wind. The Costumes.
No matter what the team looked like, the crowd was always an experience. This era was not committed to excellence. They did not do enough just win baby. They gave us every reason to leave them. Every reason to rage Monday.
Yet, many of us stayed loyal to the colors. That’s why the fans, especially the ones in Oakland, are the real MVP of the decade. There isn’t much else worth remembering from the 2010s outside of Oakland and RaiderNation. So when your kids ask you what the Raiders were like in the 2010s, tell them it was Oakland. Tell them it was fun. Tell them it was scrappy. Everything else is just trauma we’re probably better off forgetting.