How long will it take to get used to saying anything but Oakland Raiders? That is exactly what all Raiders writers and reports will have to do now that Roger Goodell made the move official. The NFL Draft is just around the corner and it will be in Las Vegas. It feels weird righting Vegas Raiders, not gonna lie. Fans are fighting about Las Vegas versus Vegas but both feel weird. This distracts from the fact that fans must choose to follow the team through relocation just like that.
The Raiders home is in Oakland. Their colors come from Oakland. The mascot comes from the East Bay. Their legends come from the Oakland community. The decaying stadium with the last dual-purpose baseball field and toilets that flood was their home. The tailgate experience, Black Hole and everything else existed in a vacuum of football history.
Vegas is the new frontier. Their public money through a new tax will build a state of the art facility for the team. The black hue of steel pays homage to the Raider Nation renegade attitude. The stadium will make the Raiders a dome team and effectively colonizes another state and region for the Silver and Black.
Our Raiders are leaving their homes and loved ones in Oakland without delivering a Lombardi during their return to the Bay. There are no more love letters to write. No more nostalgia to hold onto. It’s over. Not even construction delays or lease options can prevent the fact that we all got to leave Oakland behind as the Vegas takes the next step in evolving into RaiderNation HQ. It’s all downhill from here. Even Raiders fans in L.A. with no stake in where the Raiders play feel bad for our neighbors in the Bay. They know what it is like to lose their team but this is different. There is no hope for a return while that new stadium will be state of the art for at least a few decades.
Many of us will be forced to deliver on those lines in the sand. People in the Bay vowed to say goodbye. Others with teams in their market will have to decide if they can support the Vegas Raiders with the same enthusiasm if they continue to lose in the Silver State. Vegas is different than L.A. or the East Bay. There’s no large body of water in the hot ass desert. Gambling and everything else is much more easily accessed.
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But there was no other choice than Vegas. California wasn’t spending tax dollar on the Raiders stadium. Portland or San Antonio are even farther from the Bay and L.A. They wouldn’t make sense in St. Louis or San Diego. Before Vegas, every season hung over the Raiders relocation rumors, stadium lease negotiations and proposals from the city of Oakland. The future got more certain when the Raiders gave up and set their sites officially for Sin City.
All this is signed, sealed and delivered with the Raiders officially going to Vegas. This breath of fresh air gets even more clear with each step of the offseason. Soon we’ll know where the Raiders HQ, training camp and logistical game day procedures play out. I expect it to be really fluid. None of this makes writing Vegas Raiders easy, especially when you’ve been writing it every day for the past six years and really my whole life. Oakland will always be home in my head no matter how much more real the Vegas Raiders get. Either way, we have to remember the second part of the name is the most important, the Raiders. This will be fun for others and hard for more. No matter how it is we are all Raiders. We fight but we unite with wins.
Like pirates, we might not always be wanted or we might always have home. A team that moves doesn’t take anything away from who the Raiders are. They’ll always represent Oakland because that’s their foundation. No matter where the Raiders go or what city they yield in their first name, their home is in Oakland.
We aren’t going to have a lot a time to adjust to calling the Raiders home Vegas, but we really can’t do anything else. Oakland got an extended goodbye but we have to move on. They are the Vegas Raiders and we all must accept it. The Silver and Black are the Las Vegas Raiders but that doesn’t mean we forget the Raiders home is Oakland. Those two facts will never change no matter how torn, happy or twisted you feel about this relocation,
All we can do is get used to the weirdness that comes with calling them the Vegas Raiders and pray they can finally Just Win Baby! This will be the only thing that comes close to helping us heal the team no longer being in Oakland.
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