The Raiders suffered their most humiliating loss of the season Thursday night, a dismal 34–3 pounding to a one-win 49ers team that came into the game with a bottom-ten scoring offense, a bottom-ten scoring defense, and a rookie quarterback making his first career start. The Raiders opened up with a field goal, then spent the entire rest of the game going punt-punt-punt-end of half-punt-punt-missed field goal-downs-punt.
Given that performance, it’s fair to wonder just how sure Jon Gruden is that actual NFL players—even players who are currently on the Raiders, some of whom would evidently prefer to retire—are eager to be a part of his football team. He was asked as much after the game, and, yes, he’s quite sure those are real football players:
“I see players after every game we play that want to be Raiders. That’s been the case, um, my whole life. I think the brand of the Raiders is an exciting one, and I think a lot of players no doubt do want to play for us in the future.”
“The Oakland Raiders is a great organization. I know it’s not looking pretty right now. I’ve heard a lot of negativity, you know, over the last six or seven months, and rightfully so. But we’re gonna build a championship football team here, and I know a lot of people as players, as fans, and, you know, in general want to be a part of this.”
Gruden also said he’s not worried about alienating his current players, but is instead “trying to get people excited about the Oakland Raiders.” You wonder if he’s considered yet whether gloating about The Brand is quite as persuasive at swaying public opinion as trading away the most destructive pass-rusher in football and then puzzling over why your defense can’t generate any pressure up front, or being held to three points twice in three weeks. Maybe people just want to move to Las Vegas.