The Raiders’ Worst Mistake?

in nfl •  3 months ago

Over the last several decades, few American football teams have made as many head-scratching decisions as the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Most recently, there was a fan rebellion on social media when the team traded away its best player less than two weeks before the season began. Going into this season, many fans were excited by the team’s new head coach and the maturing talents of its two top players (Quarterback Derek Carr on offense and Linebacker Khalil Mack on defense). With the sudden subtraction of Mack from the roster (in exchange for future draft picks), this becomes a mediocre team which probably will not be playing for a championship this year or next.

Since the Raiders will be leaving working class Oakland, California for the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada around that same time, Oakland-area fans feel that the team has sacrificed them (again). Here was the city of Oakland’s last legitimate window to win and it has been closed to local fans, who will lose their team from this region once it moves away (again). While the NBA’s Golden State Warriors also announced plans to leave (for a new stadium across the bay in San Francisco), the Warriors have done their current host city proud by winning three NBA championships in their final years as an Oakland team. It’s hard to imagine the current Raiders matching that feat even once.

The Not-So Greatness of the Raiders Decisionmaking

But this is hardly the first time that the fans’ hearts have been broken by this team. Let’s look back and recall some of the most notably strange or painful decision that the Raiders NFL franchise has made. I’ll present them in order from best to worst (in my own opinion).

The late owner Al Davis. Source:

There are other developments that could be added to this list, but I won’t go there. If former owner Al Davis were still alive, I might add the firing of former coach Lane Kiffin to this list just for fun, but since Kiffin has burnt bridges since then in his descent to coaching at a little-known college in a minor conference, perhaps the hiring of a young, untested Kiffin was a bigger mistake in the first place. Not renewing the contract of broadcaster Greg Papa was an unfortunate recent decision, since he was one of the best reasons to listen to a Raiders football game.

But let’s stick to these five major decisions. Which one was the worst and why?

Khalil Mack with Raiders. Source:

5.) Trading Away Khalil Mack

Yes, this story slots in at # 5, I am judging it to be the LEAST bad from this list of decisions. There are three facts that inform my judgment. First, Mack was holding out from training camp, though under contract, and was demanding more money. Second, the Raiders already committed a huge amount of money in salary to the team’s other top player, quarterback Derek Carr. Third, the money they would have needed to pay Mack can be spent on signing 2-3 other very good players rather than just one.

I didn’t like it either, but when rumors of a trade began brewing, I concluded that trading away 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the year Khalil Mack was the best decision to make in a difficult situation. It will enable the Raiders to pay multiple other players with that money rather than just one. And the team received two high draft picks in return, which bodes well for its future.

4.) Leaving Oakland the First Time (for Los Angeles in 1982)

Also low on this list is the Raiders franchise’s 1982 move to Los Angeles. This move broke the hearts of Oakland fans and understandably so, since their team basically packed up and moved out overnight. But Los Angeles is one of the largest entertainment markets and it should be capable of supporting two NFL teams. During the team’s stay in Los Angeles from 1982-1994, it gained a lot of fans across Southern California. Then-owner Al Davis’ reasons for moving to and from Los Angeles seemed to have more to do with the best deal he could get on a stadium lease.

Al Davis. Source:

But let’s face it: Any team’s franchise owner, if he/she is smart, wants to be in Los Angeles. Stadium issues aside, it’s a great market. There were more potential fans in the Los Angeles area than there have ever been in Oakland or the surrounding East Bay. And in 2015, when the Raiders again had exhausted Oakland options for a new stadium and were looking to move, the team’s ownership (the late Al’s son Mark) again chose Los Angeles and tried to move there (unsuccessfully that time).


3.) Leaving Oakland the Second Time (for Las Vegas, approved by NFL in 2017 and anticipated to occur in 2019 or 2020)

The second time the Raiders wanted to move to Los Angeles, the move was thwarted by the stadium-building plans for two other LA- bound teams, the Rams and Chargers. The NFL owners instead approved the Raiders’ plans to move to Las Vegas, which will occur in the next few years. Again, the news that their team was moving broke the hearts of a lot of Bay Area Raiders fans. But the team stayed in Oakland for long enough to determine there was no viable option there for a new stadium, whereas Las Vegas was glad to build a new one.

2.) Drafting a Kicker in the First Round (Sebastian Janikowski, 2000)

I had to include this one the list! In 2000, in a giant ‘F*** You!’ to football and its conventions, owner Al Davis selected a kicker with the 17th overall pick of the 2000 draft. In the modern era, it was the only time (before or since) that anyone has reached so high for a kicker. For those who don’t know the game, kickers kick field goals and kick-offs, which are isolated plays separate from the main flow of the game. Many of the league’s best kickers have been players who went undrafted or were selected in the late rounds of the draft.


Why? Because other positions are highly sought-after and difficult to fill with top talent. The draft is a team’s major opportunity to bring in young talent on affordable salaries. And you don’t need to spend huge capital to bring in a decent kicker. There are lots of them available for a lot less of an investment than Al Davis made by selecting Sebastian Janikowski. To Janikowski’s credit, he went on to have an excellent career, but with the # 17 spot in a draft, Davis could have selected any one of a group of difference-making offensive or defensive players who could have helped his team much more…and still would have had his choice of kickers in the later rounds (when Janikowski himself still may have been available).

Then again, it was a better draft pick than taking Jamarcus Russell, who did have first round talent in college, but proved to have zero motivation to succeed in pro football.

Jamarcus Russell was not a winner in the NFL. Source:

1.) Leaving Los Angeles (for a second stint in Oakland, 1994)

Again, this time in reverse, Los Angeles fans were heartbroken while the Oakland fans who still remained were joyous at the Raiders moving back up to Northern California. The NFL wanted the team to stay in Los Angeles, which resulted in owner AL Davis filing a lawsuit against the league (the earlier move TO Los Angeles also resulted in a lawsuit).

In hindsight, this was the worst of these moves that the Raiders have made in recent decades.

There were two teams in Los Angeles during the Raiders’ stint there, but Rams owner Georgia Frontiere was complaining to anyone who would listen for many months before she finally moved the Rams to St. Louis in 1995. She was looking for every reason to leave and doing so very publicly. When Davis moved the Raiders out in 1994, it was VERY forseeable that Frontiere was about to do the same with her Rams. Yes, entertainment was different then and sports a lesser business than it is today, but staying there would have given the Raiders sole possession of that extremely lucrative LA market. It would have avoided the heartbreak that Southern California fans faced when the team left. It would have avoided the second heartbreak that Oakland fans felt when the team announced its later move to Las Vegas.

Owner Mark Davis. Source:

And rather than moving to Las Vegas, which was the team’s second choice in 2015-17 after first trying to move to Los Angeles again, the team already would have been in LA. Davis did not keep the team in Los Angeles because the stadium issues there have always been difficult (look how many years it took for the Rams and Chargers finally to have a new stadium built). But Davis would have done better to have used his leverage to get the city (or some city in the LA metropolitan area) and the NFL to build him a stadium in the years that followed. Instead, he went north and got stuck in a bad situation in the Oakland Coliseum, where the fans never returned in droves after the team’s relocation there.

Leaving Los Angeles in 1994 was the worst of a series of questionable decisions by the Raiders in recent decades. But that’s just my opinion and I’m just one armchair quarterback/GM/owner/wise guy.

There are also other decisions I didn’t even mention here, such as firing/trading former head coach John Gruden, who went on to coach Tampa Bay and face the Raiders in that year’s Super Bowl AND beat them. Then, years later, the current Raiders owner hired him back to coach again (this season will be his first year back)…should they ever have let Gruden leave? Al Davis also fired coach Art Shell once and re-hired him back later before re-firing him. This franchise has a history of cycles and returning to the same places (like Oakland and LA) and…sometimes, some maddeningly weird decision-making.

Current owner Mark Davis (on the right). Source:

Hmmm. They haven't won anything since the early 1980s, so that greatness is scarce in the recent past or present. When the future finally brings success, the late owner Al Davis will be smiling from above. His ghost might even throw a press conference.

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I am so Grateful that I don't care about the NFL anymore. I loved Pro Sports and even was a season Ticket Holder of the Rams when Eric Dickerson set the Single Season Rushing Mark. Now I could care less and I will probably not watch any games at all this year.
Thank you @donkeypong for a great article about the current Raiders.


Yes, I'm not sure how evident it was from my writing, but I'm not "all in" passionate about the NFL anymore either. I maintain some distance and am able to laugh at them just as much as I enjoy watching occasional games. I much prefer following the college game and even then I avoid the major teams.

After years of mediocrity and bad football, the Raiders FINALLY turn the corner with Jack Del Rio. And yes, his last year was a setback, but I thought they still had a high ceiling.

I've never liked Gruden. To me, he basically took what Tony Dungy started in Tampa Bay and won a Superbowl. Gruden's reputation somehow grew while he WASN'T coaching! While he was at ESPN, he seemed to become a better coach.

Raider fans should expect Gruden to be better than Belichick and win multiple Super Bowls!

Is that delusional and unrealistic?

Yeah, but if you get $10 million dollars a year, no one wants to hear excuses.

Doesn't matter if Carr gets injured again or what. I like the Raiders and I want to see them do well, but I have a feeling Gruden is going to f*ck everything up. And he probably wouldn't get fired, he would resign before that, go back to ESPN and people would give him a pass and pretend like it never happened.


The expectations for Gruden & Co. have been unrealistically high. I've actually wondered if that might have been one reason for the Mack trade. They were a lot better with him, but fans expected they would go deep into the playoffs and maybe Gruden knew they didn't have that team yet. Better to hit the partial 'reset' button, perhaps.


However, Mack is a great player but he's doesn't define the team by himself. I wish him well in his career wherever he's at. We have some very young and hungry players that want to prove themselves. Maybe Chucky sees potential there on the defensive side. We shall see in a week..

The disappointment of the fanatics because of the bad decisions of the team or what they consider that this evil must be fatal to them because it is very likely that it is not what they expected and but being so close to start the new season! I guess sometimes things don't come out like the others want


Lots of fans are surely disappointed, fanatics even more so. I maintain plenty of distance, so I'm able to laugh about the ineptitude.


I'd say the biggest mistake the Raiders ever made was allowing anyone with the last name "Davis" to make decisions on anything. Anyone (besides my dear grandmother) who decides to wear a chain on his glasses

Or decides to have the second worst haircut in the U.S.

Should not be allowed to make any major decisions.


That may be the crux of the problem, why the "greatness of the Raiders" has been absent for the last few decades.

not that I that big of a #sports fan but I'm from San Diego and its still weird to see the 'LA Chargers' in print - I feel as though I've entered an alternate universe- @angrytwinikea_entrence.jpg


Hearing 'LA Chargers' caught me by surprise just last week. I was thinking that was coming some day in the future. It still doesn't seem right. The Rams belong there, but not San Diego's team.

I feel so bad for raiders fans. I mean they are like if you took Cleavland Browns fans and put them in a relationship with domestic abuse problems.

MIKE VANDERJAGT made the biggest mistake ever in the 2005 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME. Late in the 4th quarter Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball on the goal line, the Colts swooped it up, and made it to midfield. With just 20 seconds left in the game and at home in Indy, VANDERJAGT missed a 43-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. Instead the Steelers would go on to win Superbowl 40 and was the first team to do so as a 6 Seed. VANDERJAGT got the nickname “The Drunkin' Kicker” and also lost his job. Thankfully the Colts went out and got a kicker you might have heard of, Adam Vinatari and also won the Superbowl the following year.


OK. I can't argue with that notion. It doesn't really relate to the Raiders, though, which was the subject of my post.

The Bears biggest mistake was signing jay cutler 7 YEARS


No doubt.

As a raiders fan, i want my team to do really bad so the franchise understand their mistake, not only with Kahlil Mack but with also with Marquette King. You are giving more money to a coach that hasn't done any coaching job in the NFL for 10 years than to other players, and you weren't willing to give more money to potentially the best defensive player in the league. (The only good constant we had in defense).

I know as a fan, i shouldn't want that, but it pisses me off so much. Now watch players complain about Gruden. (I am already missing Jack del Rio).

The biggest mistake by the Bengals wasn't giving Marvin Lewis 9 lives. It was Paul Brown NOT naming OC Bill Walsh to succeed him as head coach. Instead of Bill Walsh building his dynasty in Cincinnati, he built it in San Francisco. The second worst mistake by the Bengals was Paul Brown dying and leaving the team to his son Mike Brown.


I haven't followed that team much. They've had a few good years, but not many of them.

The signing of Jamarcus was definutely one of the biggest flops in history. I could've had a better record than that with a tenth of the

Hello friend @donkeypong it is sad to expect a losing team to return its old glory and more if you are a fan of it because as you comment everything depends on its administrators and have a good strategist when it comes to the budget that counts the team the statistics of free players with good market price adding a good coach that makes the difference to lead a team that can add victories that despite not being able to win the superbolwl can give hope to the fans that everything can change with the step of the time since I do not believe in those film miracles that can change everything in a single season you have to wait at least two for the group to compact and build a good collective game thanks for sharing this post


True. It takes time.

Hi @donkeypong, it was interesting to read about Raiders adn the issue that the team and fans facing for last almost 3 decades, it is only me thinking that the success of team very much depends on the bossed/management team. It was heartbreaking to hear that the team had to leave Oakland for LA but then after establishment that had to go back and years later left again, that is real comedy movie. The deicsion to move this time to Las Vegas does not sound wise as they and the fans have to move, new place, to gain popularity which is with lately unsuccessful games does not look like going to happen. I think there are a lot to learn for those who decide to run their own business from the lessons of Raiders. @donkeypong yesterday somehow I found the old post 7 months old when you had an interview with 20 questions, it was interesting to find that you were one of the creator of Curie curation and at the start of EOS, you have a good feeling for new business. As an art creator recently we saw that artists need a bit of more curation help, so we created @art-venture project, it is just started this monday its work. I would bereally grateful for your expert opinion about the project and if you could support it visiting on and off. Thanks in advance, @stef1


Good luck with it. There are some great projects out there and I'm a fan of any effective effort to curate and reward good content. Getting any meaningful voting power right now is very, very difficult, though. When the SMTs and communities come, I hope there will be more support for good work.

Brett Farve being released by the falcons was not a mistake. He did not prepare or come to practice for games. All he did was drink and party. He didn't even show up for the team photo. Brett even said the "the falcons cutting me made me get my shit together" farve at GB was NOT like that for the falcons.

I can t understand why a Team does leave the city ... If this would happen to my local soccer club I would cry.

The biggest mistake made by the Detroit Lions is naming Matt Millen as president and GM of the team. They had Kevin Colbert as director of pro scouting. They hired Millen instead and Colbert has successfully guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to 2 Super Bowls and are competitive year after year.

Hello sir @donkeypong how are you hope good sir i like your daily post. I learned a lot from this new post and learned that i love sports too much i love a lot i love to play every afternoon, especially football I love your post very much and I respect you very much,
I still cant imagine how you managed to do all this, its a game, game! You aren't suppose to be snapping but watching the game.
At the other way round, i love the fun you put into this. You know what sometimes even when youre watching a game, your mind isnt there.

Winning is good but it is not everything...

Hello Friend how are you? of American football I know absolutely nothing but for that we are to learn every day and that is what I always do in each of your publications, learn, research and read.

It is a pleasure to always pass by your blog, I send you many greetings from Venezuela, thank you for sharing every knowledge.

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@donkeypong sir

Very wonderful sports post.i love football game sir.your every post is very important. I like it your great full post.I love football game and try to post your post very well. Thank you, Sir for giving you such a nice news about us.


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Hello @donkeypong sir How are you? I really love your sports favourite play is football and cricket. I like it your great full post. thanks for sharing your beautiful life.

I really feel for the raiders fans. They waited more than a decade to find their franchise qb and to succeed, and right when they do they find out their team is leaving. I really hope they win the superbowl within the last two years that their in Oakland

As a Denver Broncos fan, I must say that it doesn't bother me one bit to see how inept the Raiders are in their ability to build a winning team and to reward and keep their fanbase. They actually have one of the biggest and most loyal fanbases and they consistently tell them that mediocrity is acceptable. I can't believe they let Mack go. There is no guarantee that either of those 1st round pics will translate into star players and at this point, the Bears are going to finish with a better record just by having Mack on the team. The move to Vegas is great for Vegas and there should certainly be a team there but in the end, it will be just another slap in the face for Raiders fans. So sad.

Hi @donkeypong
I think Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake of the Past Decade
The Raiders’ Worst Mistake?

  • you are right.

I’m a very passionate raiders fan and in my opinon this wasn’t as bad of a trade as everyone is making it out to be. Yes they lost a stud but they now have 4 first round picks the next 2 years and free up a lot of cap. They also have ardon key and Bruce Irvin at defensive end which I think will be pretty good. Now if their draft picks become bust then ya they failed but if they become really good nfl players they easily won this trade and I think they could go out and get earl Thomas now ? Maybe lev bell for next year? I’ll miss Mack but I think they won this trade.


Michael Marchant the trade was bad ! Mack is a once in a lifetime player. This guy is the next Lawrence Taylor....I’m a Raider fan too, this was bad move....

Sir @donkeypong, Please check you discord. I have message for you. God bless and more power!


Another message sent sir @donkeypong

I was on public transit once in Oakland and there are a lot of diehard raiders fans there, one wonders how many die hard fans they could have in Las Vegas. There are a lot of entertainment options there.

I feel bad for raiders fan.
The disappointment of the fanatics because of the bad decisions of the team or what they consider that this evil must be fatal to them because it is very likely that it is not what they expected and but being so close to start the new season! I guess sometimes things don't come out like the others want.

Congratulations @donkeypong!
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