The Oakland Raiders myth
The Raiders were born in 1960, in Oakland, at the same time as the AFL, the rival League of the NFL (the two Leagues will merge ten years later). They played – and lost sharply (14-33) – the second Super Bowl in history, against Green Bay in 1968. The team shaped its legend in the 1970s, regularly playing in the play-offs, with players like quarterback Ken Stabler, strong offensive linemen Gene Upshaw and Art Shell and fierce defensive backs Willie Brown and Jack Tatum.
The Raiders are sacred to the Super Bowl in 1977, after correcting Minnesota (32-14). Another star of the team: trainer John Madden, who then had a fine career as a TV consultant and gave his name to a famous video game. Oakland won a second Super Bowl in 1981. But, unable to develop their stadium as they pleased, the leaders of the Raiders transferred the team to Los Angeles the following year.
Los Angeles Raiders: show time!
In Los Angeles, the magic takes hold quickly. In 1984, the Raiders won the Super Bowl, after ridiculing Washington (38-9), defending champion and favorite. The stars of the era were running back Marcus Allen, Finals MVP then voted the NFL’s best player two years later, and defensive end Howie Long, the sack specialist.
The colors (black and gray) and the logo of the Raiders (a helmeted player with a pirate headband and two sabers in the background) are also all the rage. They are notably popularized by the gangsta rap group NWA. The Raider Nation is also born in Los Angeles. It is one of fan bases most important in the NFL. Some fans don impressive outfits worthy of a science fiction movie or fantasy. The Raider Nation will be immortalized in a book: “Better to reign in hell” (“Better to reign in hell”).
But it is also in LA that the results are declining and the stands are less full. A fresh start came in 1995, after the Raiders owner refused to share his stadium with another team. Direction…Oakland.
Possible conversion into a fantasy film. (G. Burke/USA Today Sports/Sports Press)
Oakland II, the return
The Raiders reunite with what may have been their true home. They wait a few years, however, before playing the leading roles again. In 2000, Oakland was a Conference finalist and two years later qualified for the Super Bowl against Tampa Bay.
The Raiders’ offense looks great, with quarterback Rich Gannon, MVP of the season, Jerry Rice, the best receiver of all time, his alter ego Tim Brown and defensive backs Charles Woodson and Rod Woodson. But Oakland shattered against the terrible defense of Tampa Bay (21-48), and will not recover. From 2003 to 2019, the team only had one positive season.
Seeking a breath of fresh air and still having stadium issues (Oakland Coliseum is often rated as one of the least functional in the NFL), the Raiders leave California in 2020, after 60 years of good and loyal services. They meet in Las Vegas.
New bet in Las Vegas
For the first time in its history, the gambling capital has an NFL franchise. Last year, for their debut in Nevada, the Raiders started with six wins and three losses, but then cracked and missed qualifying for the play-offs. The current season is following a bit the same path. After a successful kickoff, Las Vegas has won only one of its last five matches.
The team is mainly based on the faithful Derek Carr (30), his quarterback since 2014, three times All-Star, who took him for the last time in the play-offs (in 2016). This season Carr has thrown for over 3,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, author of eight sacks, is, for his part, the leader of the defense.
Five days before the end of the regular season, the Raiders remain in the race for the play-offs, but they will have to achieve a virtually faultless result. From Sunday in Kansas City?