VOL. 132 | NO. 65 | Friday, March 31, 2017
The Press Box
Pro Sports Motto: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
By Don Wade
When I joined a Fantasy Football League a few year ago I chose a team name from the depths of my soul: “I Hate the Raiders.”
Hate, I recognize, is a strong word. But if you follow the NFL and know of its history over the last 50 years, I need only tell you that I was born and raised in Kansas City. Hating the Raiders was cultural and environmental. Not to mention enjoyable.
So news of their impending move to Las Vegas has my emotions swirling.
Let’s first consider the legions of Oakland Raiders fans. They generally look and conduct themselves like “Lord of the Rings” Orcs made of subterranean heat and slime, with hearts made of stone.
And those are just the children.
Can I feel any sympathy/empathy for these horrible creatures? No, I cannot. See, there is history between my hometown and Oakland that most of the sporting world forgets. But not me, not anyone from Kansas City.
I was a mere child when Charles O. Finley, in search of a better stadium deal (yes, this was a factor even in the late 1960s) took the Kansas City A’s to Oakland. We had endured year after year of bad baseball outfitted in green and gold and those crazy white “kangaroo” shoes.
But shortly after the A’s landed in California, they became a dynasty. Won three World Series in a row. Kansas City got an expansion team in the Royals in 1969, but there were a few moments when that wasn’t certain.
So couple that with the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry and, no, I don’t care how much Raiders fans are hurting. Let them cry in their jail cells and in their beer at their outlaw motorcycle gang rallies.
And if we’re going to be completely transparent here, how can I as a present-day Memphian rail against the moving of a professional sports team?
Look, Michael Heisley took his NBA team out of Vancouver and moved the Grizzlies to Memphis for the same reason Mark Davis is taking his NFL franchise to Las Vegas: more income and a new facility in which to play the games.
It’s owner free agency wrapped in fake promises and lies. Politics with goal posts.
But I will give those wretched Raiders fans this much: They deserve, as Washington Post writer Des Bieler suggested, to keep their team name. He accurately points out that it still doesn’t look right to see the horseshoe on the helmet of the Indianapolis Colts. Yes, Baltimore now has the Ravens (by way of Cleveland) and the Browns name stayed in Cleveland with the new franchise.
It’s all quite messy. They know this up I-55 in St. Louis, where they lost the Rams after first losing the St. Louis Football Cardinals. Here in Memphis, we were a pit stop for Bud Adams as the Houston Oilers were becoming the Tennessee Titans.
The Raiders, of course, left Oakland before. Did a couple of decades in Los Angeles, then returned to the Bay Area. For a long time, L.A. had no NFL team. Now it has two: the Rams and recently relocated San Diego Chargers.
The new, almost $2 billion stadium in Las Vegas is not expected to be ready until 2020. It is unclear where the Raiders will play until then (at UNLV? In San Antonio?) given how angry their frightening base is.
So, Raiders owner Mark Davis might want to brush up on his Orcish. “Ashdautas vrasubatlat” does not mean, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
It does mean, “Someday I will kill you.”
Don Wade’s column appears in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.