By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
Back at the beginning of the season, I wrote an article about the Oakland Raiders and whether or not head coach Jon Gruden could handle all the big personalities he had put on the team.
Fast forward to week 15, the drama that surrounded the Raiders wasn’t just about the players they have, the players they’ve lost, and the coach, but now we get to add the fans to the mix. 2019 has been a rollercoaster for Oakland and their fans, and the tension boiled over on Sunday.
This was not what the Raiders had in mind for their final season in Oakland. In the offseason, they amassed talent and depth in order to give the fans and franchise a top-notch, competitive season. As we all know too well, those plans started to crumble before the season even got started, but even until a few weeks ago there was still a chance to make the best of it.
Oakland’s record is 6-8, giving them second place in the AFC West. Yet, with the Chiefs pulling away with the division, and the season coming to an end, the Raiders are going to have to live with another season of mediocrity and frustration. Sunday was the team’s last home game in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas which they lost, their fans let the team know they are frustrated too.
— Cold Blooded Convos (@ColdBloodedChat) December 16, 2019
Now one could ask if this is fair of the fans to do to the players, when, if we are being honest, a lot of the blame should be placed at the feet of the coach and front office. On the other hand, can you blame them? This team is leaving after decades of dedicated support, even during some terrible seasons.
So where do the Raiders go from here? Well, I’m not going to speculate on what may happen to players and coaches, but we do know they are headed to Vegas and that beautiful new stadium. The questions become, A. will the fans follow them? and B. will the Raider ever have the home field support they had in Oakland. To find the answer to both questions, you need to look no further than the Los Angeles Chargers.
When the Chargers left San Diego, not only did the fans not make the 2-hour drive up to LA to watch the games, they completely bailed on the team altogether. The Chargers fanbase is non-existent at this point. Then you have to look at the location. Away fans flock to warm weather/vacation towns during the winter to watch their favorite team. Miami, New Orleans, and Los Angeles are always popular, but Vegas will probably be the MOST popular destination. Low-level fan support along with that particular location equals scenes like the one below.
Vikings fans made up an estimated 80-90 percent of Chargers’ “home” crowd https://t.co/rEs1X8lYwK
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 16, 2019
I feel for the Oakland Raiders and their fans. At the beginning of the season, there was nothing but optimism. However, much like what happened in Cleveland, the optimism lead to heartbreaking disappointment. Maybe the move will help the team, but for fans in Oakland, frustration will be the last memory they have in their home stadium.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG