The present time seems uncertain for one of the most unique, historic NFL franchises. What would the future hold?
January 26th, 2003. The Superbowl. The Oakland Raiders have a date with history. Rich Gannon, the black and silver starting QB, is the flamboyant NFL MVP. A tale of redemption and second chances. The story of the hard-working backup, redeemed at the end of his career after finally getting a chance, maybe the last one. A young, callow QB dumped his dreams the season before, in the infamous “Tuck-Rule game”. His name was Tom Brady. But there’s another opportunity in front of him.
In front of them, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Always considered one of the worst teams in the league, they surprised the whole NFL, maybe even some of their most loyal fans, reaching the ultimate final. How did this happen? Well, after signing former Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden. One of those cinematographic stories, something surprisingly common around the most important competition in American sports.
Considered one of the most talented coaches despite his young age, he managed to build one of the most powerful defences in the league, followed by a solid attack, making the Bucs a match nobody would like to face.
Said and done. The Buccaneers absolutely battered the Raiders, 48-21. 5 interceptions were thrown by Gannon, closing his redemption chapter in the worst possible way. And from then onwards, a desert of emptiness, lack of personality, and fear, a stint that continues today.
Everything seemed to look brighter when the QB Derek Carr took control of the offence in 2014, more than ten years later. A young, aggressive team, slowly recovering its personality, its Bad-Boys attitude.
An earthquake had shaken The Bay in 2018. Former Oakland head coach, but also former Oakland dreams executioner, Jon Gruden, signs a 10-year contract. The QB, the coach, the illusion. But something still needs to pop to make this team a dark horse.
A well-known announcement finally materialised in 2020. New house. The Raiders are not from Oakland anymore: their new destination, Las Vegas. Brand-new stadium, and despite the rarities of the Covid-19 pandemic, a young team was starting to be noisy in a complicated division.
Until the scandal broke through. Several key players ended up in prison because of their legal problems, and Jon Gruden was fired after a massive amount of emails loaded with sexist, racist and homophobic content. What seemed to be an ended season was saved by the interim head coach, Ric Bissacia, who turned the Raiders into a playoff team and almost a divisional contender.
However, the 2022 season was nothing else but a recess; a soulless team, a new head coach showing more incompetence than ideas, and a conflict that lead Derek Carr to leave and sign by the New Orleans Saints.
What’s coming next? The signing of Jimmy Garoppolo, a competent quarterback and a champion in the fashion world, seems the correct choice to avoid the sinking of the boat. Offensive playmakers like Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, some of the best in the business, and a defence full of young talent makes the Sin City fans (and the Oakland fans, that house that never should have been left) hold a little bit of optimism.