Another Season Begins for the Oakland Raiders Shrouded in Controversy

Tonight the Raiders host the Broncos tonight in the team’s final season at the venerable Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. In what hopes to be another epic clash between two heated rivals, the Raiders have been left reeling by the events of the past week.

Last season, the Raiders traded fan favorite, and former Defensive MVP, Khalil Mack. This season began with an eccentric and enigmatic wide receiver, whom the Raiders released on Saturday. The saga of Antonio Brown has been played to death in the media – a saga that ultimately left the Raiders left empty handed after gambling a 3rd and 5th-round pick for Brown earlier this year. Expensive draft capital considering the level of talent in the 2019 NFL Draft. Make no mistake though, the risk itself, even as the Raiders are being dragged through the mud, was the right call.

When you are an organization that has only one winning season since 2002, you have to shoot your shot when the opportunity knocks.

This Feels Different Than the Beginning of Last Season.

The Khalil Mack trade left everyone, including last year’s players, in shock. The move rocked the foundation of the locker room, and snuffed out most of the hope for the 2019 campaign. It took almost half of the season for the team to register it’s first win, and also initiated a complete roster overhaul. Now, with the pain of all that beginning to subside, those wounds have been reopened with the Brown ending.

This time, though, it feels different. Brown was never really integrated into the Raiders locker room. Only a few of players truly befriended Brown. Most feel his loss is addition by subtraction. They will miss the talent, but not the drama. Some feel betrayed, and no one more so than quarterback Derek Carr. Carr and his family opened up their home and hearts to AB. Derek Carr’s silence to the media was deafening. Understand that Carr spent countless days working with, training with, and embracing Brown as a brother, only to see Brown turn his back on the team.

But there is Hope.

The Raiders finally pulled off a win they hope to build upon. Wide receiver Keelan Doss, whom the Raiders waived to make their final 53, was enticed away the Jacksonville practice squad by a reported 300k signing bonus and a full rookie salary. It might not seem like much, but Doss knows the playbook and flashed at times during preseason. He is still raw, but has tremendous upside, and the front office needed a win however small it may have been. That coupled with contract specialist Tom Delany’s heroics in the Brown deal, (his skill allowed the Raiders to void Brown’s contract, which saved the club 30 million dollars) has the front office trending back in the right direction.

Finally the team is able to fully focus on the task at hand – though they had been doing remarkably well even when Brown was nowhere to be found (see the AZ preseason game). But moving forward,  the way players respond to the events of the past week may just set the tone for the season. For the sake of Raider Nation, lets hope the team comes together, plays angry, and with a chip on their shoulder. Because starting off the season with a strong performance will go a long way towards erasing the memory of the past week.

twitter: @raidersbeat