Breaking up with somebody is hard. Being forced to live under the same roof with that person for two years is even harder. Therein lies the conundrum for Oakland Raiders players.
The team is making the best out of an impossible situation of having one foot in and the other out Oakland’s door. They never asked to leave the city behind and move the team out to Las Vegas. That decision was made for them in a failed effort between city bureaucrats and owner Mark Davis to come to an agreement on a new stadium.
The only voice the players have in the matter is providing comfort to the fans in Oakland and optimism to the ones in Las Vegas. Raiders players, particularly quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack, have done a tremendous job of walking that fine line so far.
“I’m human, man,” Carr recently told reporters. “It’s like, that’s crazy. How do you keep playing somewhere you love and then you have to go and play somewhere else that you’re going to have to love and love the people there just like we will? For me, I really had to concentrate on, in all honesty, it doesn’t matter yet.”
Carr is absolutely right. The fact that the team is moving two years from now won’t matter once the regular season begins. They are still the Oakland Raiders right now. Some of the players on the roster won’t even be around long enough to see the move. Winning football games is the only thing that matters to the players regardless of the headlining city.
But the questions will keep coming.
Players have to be sensitive toward an Oakland populace losing its only professional football team. So many memories have been built around supporting a team that hasn’t always been very good. Yet, Oakland fans have turned out by the thousands to watch their Raiders compete year after year.
And then there are the fans in Las Vegas that are eager to finally have a pro football team. It’s a fine balance between shedding a few tears but not enough to rain on the parade in Vegas.
“It comes up all the time but it’s always the thing like, ‘just win now,’” said Mack. “That’s what it comes down to for us. That’s all we want to do. You don’t know what’s going to happen down the line. You don’t know. This team that we have now, we want to focus on winning now.”
Perhaps the Raiders could win a Lombardi Trophy in the next two years as one last parting gift to the dedicated fans in Oakland and hope for a brighter future in Las Vegas.