The Oakland Raiders agreed to a new one-year lease to play in Oakland Coliseum for the 2019 season. But have they done too much to bring back their fans?
2018 was a rough year to be an Oakland Raiders fan.
The on-the-field stuff was bad enough. Before the season even began, new head coach Jon Gruden traded away one of the Raiders best players, Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears for a series of future draft picks. Oakland went 4-12 in the 2018 season, finishing 4th in a year where two of their AFC West rivals went to the postseason. By the time the bye-week rolled around, it felt like the season was over.
Off-the-field, it seemed like the Raiders franchise was ready to move-on from Oakland. At times, it felt like the team didn’t even care that it might be their last ever game in Oakland or that they might be saying goodbye to a fanbase that has supported them on and off for the last sixty years.
Now, the Raiders organization has come to an agreement with the city of Oakland that will keep them in the Coliseum for another year, with an option for 2020. But will Oakland fans forgive the franchise in what *might* be their farewell season?
This isn’t the first time Raiders fans have been in this situation. The Raiders franchise played in Oakland from 1960 to 1981 before moving to Los Angeles for twelve years. Then, they came back to Oakland in 1995, where they have been for the last 24 years.
Here’s the thing about Oakland fans: they’re loyal to the end. They have been tested a lot in their nearly 60 year history. But even at the end of last season, despite the fact that the Raiders were barely holding things together, Oakland fans seemed to express a mixture of pride and sadness. “I’m a Raiders fan,” one Raiders fan said. “I’m going to roll with my team wherever they go.”
And it helps that they are putting in some work in the offseason. The biggest addition is wide receiver Antonio Brown, acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a three-year, $50.25 million dollar deal. They have also added offensive tackle Trent Brown, defensive back LaMarcus Joyner, and wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Plus, the Raiders have three first round draft picks. They are rumored to be linked to some big names, including Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
If this is going to be the Raiders’ last season in the Coliseum, it’s shaping up to be quite something. Some fans are likely ready to give up on the team, feeling like yet another generation of Raiders fans who have been taken advantage of by the organization. But some will inevitably return, ready to cheer on their team in a year with a lot of promise.
Where will the majority of fans fall? We’ll have to wait and see.