Las Vegas Raiders? “Just Win Baby!”
It’s not always the kiss of death to have Jerry Jones in your corner. For every Quincy Carter, there’s the (now) Los Angeles Rams. So when Jones recently gave such a ringing endorsement to the city of Las Vegas in regards to its future as an NFL destination, it at least got the wheels turning in terms of the conversation as to whether pro football and the gambling Mecca of the United States could coexist. That’s the big question, right? Should a major sports team play half its games in a city known for mob activity and distraught patriarchs losing their nest egg? Would that somehow “taint” the sport? Well that’s what we are here to answer. Is Vegas a good destination, and if so, are the Raiders the team of destiny in that city?
First, the question of should the NFL move to Vegas.
That’s actually really easy. Why the hell not!?
Seriously. What is stopping the NFL at this point from setting up shop in Sin City? A moral compass? Come on, that went out the window when you have individuals associated with the sport such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson. Sure, the first two are not in the league at the moment (though I feel like Hardy is one bad injury to a pass rusher away from getting the call), Adrian Peterson just happened to be one of the most productive backs in football last season, a year after a suspension for abusing his child. Whether you agree with the logistics of the case against Peterson or not, the fact of the matter remains that he was suspended for a heinous act (if it wasn’t a heinous act, he would not have been suspended for an entire season) then came back the following year to lead the Vikings to the playoffs as if nothing happened.
Business as usual in the NFL.
This is a league with a pretty rampant illegal drug use problem, be it weed or performance enhancers, and all the suspensions in the world don’t seem to be rectifying it anytime soon. This is also a league that just won an appeal against one of its most popular players of all time for deflating footballs in a game that took place nearly a year and a half ago. Now, Tom Brady has to miss four games this coming season because under-inflated footballs is the hill Roger Goodell wanted to die on. When a good portion of your league is dabbling in illegal substance, and you’re busying yourself with persecuting one of the “clean” guys, you can’t tell me that image is that important.
Plus, let’s not forget the almighty dollar in this whole ordeal. Despite all these “scandals” and “-gates” of the last few years, the NFL is raking in the dough. Like, Scrooge McDuck Money-Bin levels of cash (try to get the image of a speedoed Jerry Jones swimming through an Olympic sized pool of money out of your head. No really, try it, and when you do, let me know how many shots it took because I’ve already tried seventeen). Obviously no one really cares about the skeletons in the closet of anyone involved in the league, so thinking that a move to Las Vegas will perpetuate a mass migration from the sport that has grown into “America’s Pastime”, despite the fact that it may eventually kill all of its participants is kind of silly.
So, we’ve established that, moving a team to Las Vegas is as good an idea as any, and probably a better idea than many (remember when it was rumored that the Bills were going to move to Toronto?) So the next question centers around whether the Raiders should be the team to move there.
It was long rumored that the Raiders were looking to get out of the Bay Area, and they have been the one team to flirt very heavily (we’re talking doped up meatball on the Jersey Shore level of flirt) with the idea of moving to Vegas. Obviously, the Rams have moved to Los Angeles, and the general thinking all along is that they would bring another team into the stadium with them, a la Jets/Giants. San Diego and the Raiders were the two teams up for that “honor”, and despite the fact that the Chargers received a one year reprieve from needing to pack their bags, they are still the odds-on favorite to travel north to newer, shinier digs in LA. This kind of leaves the Raiders out in the cold. Could they stay in Oakland and force Steph Curry to switch his allegiance? Sure. Could they move to Las Vegas and be the biggest thing to hit that town since someone realized they could put dollar bills in women’s underpants? Absolutely!
Of course, the issue with Las Vegas is similar to the one we heard when the Rams were moving to Los Angeles: there’s too much to do to have a pro team in that city. While I agree that the activity capital of the United States is probably centered right in the Nevada desert, I don’t think that will prevent people from attending football games. Hell, you only get eight home games a year! You can go see Penn and Teller or visit the Bunny Ranch on Tuesday night if you really can’t live without them. The one thing that could derail attendance for the Las Vegas Raiders would be if they were bad, like Raiders of the Jemarcus Russell-era bad. Here’s the good news in that regard…the Raiders are good, and finally look to be set up to be good for a long time.
I know, someone feel my forehead to make sure I don’t have a fever.
Seriously though, you have a defense led by Khalil Mack, the three headed monster of Carr, Murray and Cooper on offense and the ageless wonder Sebastian Janikowski as your kicker (seriously, he’s been around seventeen years! There are Raiders fans right now that are graduating high school this year who don’t realize what it’s like to not have a guy that looks like The Mountain on Game of Thrones kicking the ball all over the field). Plus, in the draft this year they downright stole both Shilique Calhoun and Connor Cook out of Michigan State with the 75th and 100th pick, respectively. These were two players I have had a pretty close eye on for their college careers and was very high on coming into the draft. The Raiders are set up to win now, especially with the Mark Sanchez experiment taking effect over in Denver, San Diego being San Diego, and Andy Reid’s track record of doing Andy Reid things over in Kansas City. Can they win the division this year? Absolutely, and they are set up to dominate for years to come as well. That’s what Las Vegas wants, and honestly what Las Vegas deserves. If Sin City is going to open its doors to an NFL franchise, they deserve to have a winner (which is why the Bills are staying put).
The Raiders are, and can be that team, and I for one am excited to see that play out. In Jerry we trust.