Matthew Farnham: Oakland Raiders say farewell to spiritual home

Raiders fans say goodbye to their home stadium. Picture: AP
Raiders fans say goodbye to their home stadium. Picture: AP
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T  he Oakland Raiders are no more. But the Raider Nation will continue with their rabid fans after one of the NFL’s most storied franchises played their last game in Oakland before heading to their soon to be finished new Las Vegas home.

Moving home isn’t a new thing for the Raiders fans though as the franchise has left Oakland before. Then, owner Al Davis upped sticks and moved the team to LA. That move lasted 12 years before the Silver and Black returned to their spiritual home.

But the same reason they left nearly 40 years ago is why current owner Mark Davis (son of Al) is taking the organisation to Las Vegas, the refusal of the city of Oakland to pay for much-needed upgrades to the Oakland Alameda Coliseum.

After years of negotiations, both in private and through the very public media, the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on how to upgrade or rebuild the stadium, so in true billionaire fashion, Davis is taking his ball and going home – well, to a new home anyway.

This is where the money rules the NFL.

Las Vegas has been desperate to get professional sports franchises in the city and two seasons ago the addition of the Golden Knights NHL franchise proved to be a success, so far.

But the refusal of one of the poorest regions in America to build a new stadium was undoubtedly the right one. An area that has long been suffering from an economic downturn is now being admonished for its unwillingness to spend $1 billion on premises for an average team.

The NFL reportedly made a profit of $8.1b last year yet would punish a region for being poor and move a team to an area that has a mostly transient population. Yes the NHL has managed to succeed in bringing fans to the games but filling 18,000 seats in an air-conditioned building is not the same as filling a 65,000-seat stadium in the middle of the desert.

In the last game at the Coliseum the Raiders fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16, another inferior product that Davis and the organisation rolled out on to the field.

The Raiders fans are too good to the team, and far too good to the league. They are a fanbase that deserves better.

The New England Patriots secured a record 11th consecutive play-off berth, with a 34-13 win over the still floundering Bengals. While the play-off berth is good, the Patriots know their offense needs to improve if they plan on a deep run.

Last year’s Super Bowl opponents, LA Rams, suffered a substantial loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and while that defeat doesn’t mean they won’t be back, it does take the chances out of their hands. With the Rams loss, Green Bay Packers confirmed their spot in the play-offs after a 21-13 win over Chicago.

The Seattle Seahawks also confirmed their play-off spot with a 30-24 win over Carolina Panthers while the San Francisco 49ers lost to Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons took the lead with two seconds left on the clock before recovering a fumble and scoring again to finish 29-22 winners.

A ten-point fourth quarter also had the Buffalo Bills turn around the game against Pittsburgh. The 17-10 win for the Bills means that Buffalo will have post-season football for only the second time this century.

Houston Texans moved a step closer to the play-offs as they withstood a Tennessee Titans comeback to eke out a 24-21 win over the division rivals and take the driving seat, but the Texans know one loss could cost them the division. The Titans’ loss helped the Pittsburgh Steelers who, despite their loss to the Bills, currently hang on to the sixth and final seed in the AFC.

Jameis Winston had a game for the ages, throwing for 458 yards and making four touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ slim hopes of the postseason stayed alive with a 38-17 victory over Detroit Lions. Arizona back Kenyan Drake also had a career game collecting four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) as the Cardinals beat the Browns.