Link to my Thursday column. Text below:
In an early edition of its Wednesday paper, the SF Chron referred to Raiders owner Mark Davis as Mike. It was in the Chron’s article on how the Raiders got banned from moving to LA.
No knock on the Chron. These things happen in the fast-edited journalism world, and Mike is a perfectly fine name. In this case, it’s the wrong name. Just shows some writer and some editor didn’t know Mark Davis from Mike Davis.
Guy can’t get no respect. Can’t get no respect in the local rag. Can’t get no respect in the NFL.
When the NFL owners denied Mike the option to move to Inglewood with the Rams, move to Inglewood with its proposed star-studded stadium and entertainment venue and who knows what else, they weren’t only lousing up his plans and dreams. They were declaring a judgment, decreeing what the league really thinks of the guy and his team.
The owners surely were settling old scores against Mike’s dad Al and the Raiders organization. Something about you reap what you sow. Where have we heard that lately?
The NFL put the Raiders in third place behind the Rams and Chargers, neither franchise a big deal. Not compared to the Giants or Cowboys — or the 49ers way back when. You get the impression the NFL would put the Raiders third behind any other two teams in the league — and that might include the Tennessee Titans.
And the league was right. The Raiders do not have the goods. Don’t have the dough or the savvy or the glitz to be LA. The league does not want the Raiders anywhere near LA. If you ask me, the league wants Mike to sell his team to a rich owner and then drift into the sunset so, in the league’s thinking, the Raiders could get on with the serious business of being a serious partner in the NFL.
In the photos of Mike after the NFL’s decision, the guy looks so sad. Crushed is more like it. The league is having a party and he isn’t invited. He’s stuck with Oakland for now. Stuck with that dump they call a stadium, that dump he shares with the A’s.
Here’s what Mike should do. Wipe that sad look off his puss. Don’t blame anyone for the Raiders’ mess. Don’t wallow in defeat. Just get on with the business of running a football team.
If the Chargers choose not to join the Rams in Inglewood, the Raiders are next in line for the LA football palace. So, Mike can wait and see. Wait and do nothing for a year or more. Although it probably won’t come to that. Reports say the Chargers are inclined to move to LA next season, ruling the Raiders’ LA plan null and void.
If LA is out of the question for the Raiders — almost surely the case — Mike could seriously talk to Jed York about moving to Santa Clara. The league would like that. The move would make economic sense all around. The stadium exists. Empty most of the time. Cries out for another team. Keeps the Bay Area football market intact. Of course, if Mike doesn’t want Santa Clara, has too much pride to do a combo with the Niners, he has another good option.
The league will give him $100,000 million toward a new stadium somewhere or other. Call it get-lost money. Call it don’t-screw-up-LA-for-us money. He should use that money to work something out with Oakland. Like get another investor — sell part of the team if necessary — and put up a new stadium near the current Coliseum monstrosity with private money. The current trend.
Sure, the new place won’t have all the bells and whistles of the Rams extravaganza. But Oakland doesn’t have the bells and whistles of LA and that may be good — especially for the kind of folks who are Raiders fans.
Putting up a new football stadium near the old one involves a further complication. One big honking complication.
The Oakland A’s, another team stumbling around in stadium limbo.
The A’s could avoid all complications with the Raiders, could move up the street — being metaphorical here — to Jack London Square. Or near Jack London Square. And build a baseball palace. They could be right on the bay and their park could face AT&T Park across the water and, between innings, Bob Melvin and Bruce Bochy could toast each other from the bleachers with a good Sonoma County cabernet.
The A’s, for reasons incomprehensible to the rational mind, refuse to entertain the idea of a beautiful downtown ballpark. Ask Lew Wolff about one of those and you’ll get a harrumph.
Maybe someone can change his mind. If not, how about the A’s and Raiders finally acting like grownups, finding a way to divvy up the land at the Coliseum? They could live near each other the way baseball and football teams do in Seattle, Detroit and Kansas City. I mean precedent exists for this sort of thing.
I believe Mike would go for that arrangement. Wolff not so much.
You got me.
The point being options exist. Good options. Which don’t involve the Raiders trucking their helmets and shoulder pads and tackling dummies to some discarded NFL city like St. Louis or San Diego. Or moving to a minor-league city for football like San Antonio — and good luck on that one with the Cowboys and Texans breathing down San Antonio’s neck.
Mike should work out with Lew their mutual options at the current site. And if he succeeds, Mike finally can get the respect he wants and needs. He can be Mark.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at email@example.com.