Why Your Team Sucks 2019: Oakland Raiders

Illustration for article titled Why Your Team Sucks 2019: Oakland Raiders
Illustration: Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

Some people are fans of the Oakland Raiders. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Oakland Raiders. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.


Your team: Oakland Raiders.

As you know, the Raiders are moving to Vegas one day, but are bleeding the clock on their way out of California as we speak. After reaching a tentative deal to play out their NorCal run at the Giants ballpark—because the Raiders simply cannot get enough of watching their QB get sacked on baseball infield dirt—the Niners huffed and puffed and blew them back over to their side of the Bay. Now you know how Sheldon Adelson feels, Mark Davis. The Raiders then signed a deal to stay at their current digs for this year and through next year if necessary. The new branded name of that shithole? RINGCENTRAL. When irony pays this franchise a visit, it does not quietly sneak in through the back door.

Your 2018 record: 4-12. Who could have predicted it, I ask you:

Jon Gruden is Santa Claus to haters. He gave us everything on our wish list last year, including:

  • Trading Khalil Mack to the Bears (who instantly won their division as a result), and then saying, with a straight face, that the team would “look into” their pass rushing struggles after surrendering him.
  • Telling the team that they would not trade Amari Cooper and then doing precisely that, sending the wideout to Dallas in a deal that very much appeared tilted in the Raiders’ favor, only for 2016 Cooper to re-emerge the moment he pulled on a new jersey. When you make the Cowboys look like a model of stability…
  • Getting molly-whopped by Nick Mullens in primetime.
  • Trading a third rounder for Martavis Bryant only to cut him in the face of an impending drug suspension.
  • Signing Nathan Peterman… and keeping him! And wishing him happy birthday!
  • Pulling a Darrell Bevell in a game that was .000001 percent as important, which the Raiders then went on to lose 26-10.
  • Shoving out the GM and then freezing out virtually everyone else in the organization.
  • Beating the Browns only because of a horrific blown review and beating Pittsburgh only because the Steelers’ kicker got a case of the buttertoes.
  • Arguing with Derek Carr.
  • Letting Derek Carr throw the ball away on 4th down.
  • Making Derek Carr cry.
  • Trading for A.J. McCarron to threaten Carr and then cutting McCarron loose after the season.
  • Illegally challenging a play within the final two minutes of a half, just to send a tough-guy message to replay chief Al Riveron. Does Jon Gruden know that he can neither cut Riveron nor trade him? I’mma say no.
  • Limiting snaps for prominent defensive players for seemingly no reason whatsoever, to the point where CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retired after seven weeks to go live a normal life instead.
  • Falsely bragged in Knicks-like fashion about players dying to come play for them, which is even sadder than when the Knicks do it. “Players keep asking me, tears in their eyes, ‘Sir, will you bring back the veer offense?’ We’ll see, we’ll see.”

And yet, my friends, all that was mere prelude to even greater disasters. 2018 was but the first year of a full decade of abhorrent football and streets flooded with hot diarrhea.

Your coach: $100 million for this…

Illustration for article titled Why Your Team Sucks 2019: Oakland Raiders

I’ll never get over it. Jon Gruden is redder than the ink in Las Vegas’s accounting books after building that new stadium. And the Raiders remain blindly committed to building a whole team around his dipshit ideas of what a football team should be. This is a man who likes people watching him coach more than he likes actual coaching.

This guy... this guy is serious about eatin’ some ass
This guy... this guy is serious about eatin’ some ass

I bet he spent nine hours crinkling that one eye in the mirror just to get his pose right. To aid Gruden in this decade-long vanity project, the Raiders hired Mike “THIS LIG” Mayock to be GM. Together, Gruden and Mayock have frozen out the scouting department and will now mold the Raiders’ roster into something that resembles a mock draft held exclusively by a handpicked group of devoted Golic and Wingo listeners. The Raiders will fail, over and over, and at no point will Jon Gruden blame himself for these losses. He is a college coach now. He belongs at fucking Air Force.

Your quarterback: Honestly, it’s an upset that Derek Carr is still here. Our man was sacked a whopping 51 times last season, 20 times more than the next highest sack total he’s had to endure as a professional.


Accused abuser and offensive line coach Tom Cable was the architect of this massacre. He’s still on the staff. His job of destroying Carr, apparently, is not yet complete. Not too long ago, this team had one of the best offensive lines in the league and had locked up Derek Carr for a king’s ransom after he performed well behind that line. Then they brought in Tom Cable to make it all look bad.


If you haven’t figured it out by now, here’s a dirty little secret about Jon Gruden: he doesn’t WANT to have a successful quarterback. That’s why he moved on from Brad Johnson after winning a title and why he has shuffled through signal-callers ever since, like someone browsing the Netflix main menu without bothering to ever push PLAY on anything. Jon Gruden fancies himself a guru, and he cannot guru you if you are competent and know what you’re doing out there. If you ARE capable, he’ll sabotage your efforts so that your body and spirit crumble and you end up throwing the ball directly at unsuspecting passersby. That way, Gruden alone can build you back up. You don’t keep Nathan Peterman on your roster because he’s GOOD. You keep him there because you have Coach Brain and you think that you have the power to change what cannot be changed.

Your new backup is Mike Glennon. I look forward to Gruden lavishing praise upon Glennon and Peterman to the press as way of taking passive-aggressive digs at Carr. You must break down the Pro Bowl passer in order to break him down ever further into even smaller, teeny tiny bits. Gruden’s gonna do his whole John Wayne routine and be like, “I’m really likin’ how that Peterman is slingin’ it in practice out there.”


What’s new that sucks: As I said last year, the Raiders once had an excellent roster and a real-deal front office and had evolved to the point where they were on the cusp—the cusp!—of functioning like an actual, modern-day NFL franchise. It took Gruden just one year to nuke all of that and drag the Raiders back into the direct-to-video bin, where they slap the names of has-beens on the marquee and walk up and down the sidewalk with a WE’RE RENEGADES! sandwich board hanging from their necks.

They signed Vontaze Burfict, who gets suspended every four minutes and tried to forcibly decapitate new teammate Antonio Brown just a year ago. THAT’S RAIDER FOOTBAW!!!! And, as fate demanded, they signed Richie Incognito. Incognito, as you might recall, nearly drove one teammate to suicide in Miami thanks to racist bullying, retired from football after telling reporters he was experiencing organ failure, got in several public fights, got committed, and attempted to decapitate his father’s corpse. That last offense got him a two-game suspension to start the season. As so many have already pointed out, it’s just like the NFL to address your mental illness by punishing you for having it. Richie Incognito is a deeply unwell man, and apparently just the kind of BAD BOY that Mayock and Gruden think can bring outlaw glory back to a franchise that has sucked for the greater part of this century:


Somehow Mayock was once a respected member of the NFL media, but I can go ahead and dismiss that respect knowing that he’s willing to join Gruden in acquiring mean old guys with mood disorders who can’t stop committing penalties. It’s clear that neither man gives half a shit about Incognito’s health, nor do they care about the negative impact Incognito can (and very much will) have on his teammates. They just like going after any violent prick so that they can be like WE NEEDED A BIT OF A NASTY STREAK ON THIS TEAM. Dumb is a core strategy here, just as it was when Cryptkeeper Al was still “alive.”

What else? Well they signed RB Isaiah Crowell, who then promptly tore his Achilles and is now out for the year. I blame Burfict. They signed useless speedster J.J. Nelson, presumably so that Mark Davis could leave him at Al’s headstone in tribute. They reached for DL Clelin Ferrell in the draft. If he turns out to be a stud, Gruden will trade him for marrow bones. They drafted Hunter Renfrow to be their discount Edelman. They agreed to go on Hard Knocks, because Jon Gruden’s whole deal is standing in front of a camera and selling you on the specialness of this game without doing anything special within it. The man is only alive when he’s mic’ed up.


Most importantly, the team traded for Antonio Brown. Gruden went out of character and actually underpaid for the rights to AB, but that won’t end up mattering in the end. They’ll still fuck this deal up. I can call the Steelers humorless shitheads and blame them for essentially running AB out of town, while ALSO believing that AB is definitely a horse’s ass who randomly throws heavy shit off of balconies, lists himself as doubtful when his mood ring glows orange, and got investigated for domestic violence just this winter. When you’re a horse’s ass, there is no better franchise on Earth to cultivate that assitude than this one, especially with its present leadership in place. I expect AB to have a full meltdown by Week 2, get Keyshawned by Gruden by Week 11, and get traded for a bag of Yukon gold potatoes by February.

Oh, and they drafted a running back only to summarily get into a contractual pissing match with him that threatened to spill over into camp. Josh Jacobs will be a Chief by noon. That’ll learn him. Jon Gruden enjoys defeating his own players more than defeating actual opponents. The Raiders are somehow pulling a worse exit from the city than the Warriors have.


What has always sucked: It’s wholly appropriate for the Raiders to end their tenure in Oakland like this. They’re losing. They’re high on their own dicks. They’re wildly casting about for some semblance of a roster-building strategy. They brought in a racist retiree and act like that’ll toughen everyone up. They can’t even nail down a moving date. They’re tacky, bloated, anachronistic, and stupid. Perfect.

Only one year into the Gruden era and these Raiders are a perfect reflection of their dissolving fanbase: dudes named Raider Dave who dress like Running Man extras and threaten to murder other fans for abandoning a team that is itself abandoning them. This is a controlled demolition of both a team and its morale … far more carefully orchestrated than anything else the Raiders do or will ever do again. It’s like Al never died! Touching.


Soon the Raiders will fuck off to Vegas where they will become Buyer’s Remorse Incarnate. At least the Chargers had the common courtesy to banish themselves to eternal obscurity at a rec field. The Raiders, instead, have elected to spend every week re-enacting Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral on the field. This’ll be a rare case where VEGAS is the sucker for once, as Mark Davis drains the city’s coffers and funnels virtually all of it directly to a failed Corona customer service operator. What a fucking disgrace. He should have just taken that money and put it all on red.

What might not suck: I would tell you there’s some talent on this depth chart but I have no idea if Gruden will trade those vital pieces away for a new tape machine before this post goes live.


Also, blowing off vaccines TOTALLY works for them!


You hear it.



THEY TRADED KHALIL FUCKING MACK AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHYYYY?????!!!!!!!!!!! THERE IS NO GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



I’m actually brimming with optimism this year because I only have to survive one more 4-12 season before they move to Vegas and are out of my life forever.



I can’t even abandon them for trading their best player a week before the season starts again because I can’t even name who their best player is.



By the time the Raiders are rid of Jon Gruden, one of Phillip Rivers’ children could be quarterbacking every team in the AFC West.



I’m glad 2004 me tried to convince everyone Ronald Curry was going to be the next Randy Moss.



I briefly confused Jonathan Cooper with Jonathan Martin and thought our final two preseason acquisitions before being broadcast to the world on Hard Knocks were Richie Incognito and the man he bullied.



I write you every year about Jamarcus fucking Russell, thinking there couldn’t possibly be a worse Raiders QB.

Then they went and signed Nathan Peterman.

Still fuck Jamarcus Russell, though.


I used to wear my Raiders hat whenever I wanted to limit interactions in public. Our fans are allegedly murderous shankers, plus I’m 6' 6” and can be a bit imposing. No more. Now, without fail, I get approached and asked about Las Vegas from random people.



This will be the third year in a row that the Raiders will be playing their ‘last’ game in Oakland. They also show the same urgency when it comes to improving the team.

Our coach is a TV personality more than anything else. It’s working about as well for Oakland as having a TV star run the whole country.



We play in a stadium that is mostly known for sewage backups & being the second most dangerous stadium parking lot in America.

We only hire retread coaches who we once fired or youthful geniuses who are soon to be found out as frauds.

There is a 100% chance Mark Davis takes the Hard Knocks crew to PF Changs.


Who the fuck actually builds their team to be an appealing Hard Knocks choice? Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden and Failson Davis, that’s who.



There are no other memories that stick out other than losing a lot and Randy Moss not trying for two years, then setting every record known to mankind for all eternity... with the fucking Patriots.

Las Vegas seems like the right place for them. At least the players will have fun. The fans sure won’t.



I hope equally that Carr throws for 40 TDs this year or 40 picks.


My dad is a huge Raiders fan. I have no clue how, he’s lived in Massachusetts his entire life. At least he’s excited about the move to Vegas because it’s a shorter flight from the east coast.

Fuck Mark Davis and fuck his stupid haircut.


They sign the dirtiest linebacker in the NFL who was the personal nemesis of our new diva WR and a certifiably insane tow-headed bully to protect our Captain Checkdown QB who throws the ball away on fourth down because Jeebus told him to.

I’m actually more excited about Hard Knocks than this season.


The Raiders are the equivalent to building a bookshelf without following the directions or using all of the nuts, bolts or screws. And then being dumbfounded as to why it falls apart in a couple months.

Thank god for the Sabol family and the NFL Films archives because without the footage there’s no way in hell you could convince anyone under 35 that the Raiders were once a winning franchise.

I live in Vegas and there is literally no buzz about the Raiders coming. This is a Golden Knights town, they recently had a charity softball game here which was billed as Raiders vs. Golden Knights the battle for Vegas. I counted about six people including myself in Raider gear. Everyone else was VGK. You mention the Raiders people roll their eyes; you mention the Knights you get a good hour-long conversation.

Fuck this team.


I’ve complained for years that the Raiders offseason was laughable. If only I’d known how preferable laughing was to being deeply disturbed. We signed Richie Incognito and have Tom Cable to coach him. We get Antonio Brown and then immediately sign a man whose sole mission in life thus far has been to give AB permanent brain damage. It’s like the plot of Major League, if the nefarious owner’s goal was to have someone murdered in the locker room.

The RB position should be fascinating. There’s Doug Martin, who 60% of NFL fans are certain has retired, and anti-vaxxer Jalen Richard, who should be out all year with the measles. But not to worry, I’m sure Josh Jacobs’s seven carries at Alabama prepared him to be a 16-game workhorse in the NFL.



I took this last season at the coliseum. The trough was like this before kickoff and wasn’t coned off till half way through the 4th. That certainly didn’t stop anyone from peeing in it though.


Our fanbase tolerates no criticism of the team, no matter how boneheaded their personnel moves are. This used to be endearing when Al was perpetually in “Win Now Because I’ll be Dead Soon” mode, drafting who ever had the biggest arm or fastest 40 time every year. At least that was fun.

Now, we have the same blind loyalty in “Watch an outmoded average coach dismantle a decent roster for no reason” mode. Even as Amari Cooper became a top-five wideout with Dak Prescott throwing him the ball, our fans continued to insist that Amari “wasn’t giving effort” on the Raiders, and that “Gruden needs HIS guys”. As though Cooper’s discrepancy in performance between Oakland and Dallas had nothing to do with the fact that our left tackle was now playing right tackle and that our new rookie left tackle was a 315-pound projectile hurtling toward Derek Carr’s knees on every other play.


Matt Davis:

I’m from New Hampshire, born and raised. Growing up, the Pats sucked and my Dad didn’t even bother to loathe them. He was just bemused by their ineptitude and incompetence. He was a *HUGE* Raiders fan and so, of course, he inflicted that on me. He loved Al Davis. He had me convinced that the “Immaculate Reception” was an illegal play only allowed because the refs were scared of the hometown Yinzers. Part of the mythos of my childhood was that in a fit of rage, my Dad threw a TV out of the bedroom window after the Steelers scored that touchdown. At one point, he called the Raiders organization and spoke with Al Locasale, imploring him to trade Tim Brown to the Falcons for I-don’t-even-remember-who.

Anyhow, fast forward to the Tuck Rule game: my Dad initially cited this as an absolute black eye on the NFL, another example of bias against Al Davis for some perceived grievance he committed back in the early days of the league when, in fact, it must have been just a master stroke of his brilliance as an owner as he out-maneuvered everyone. However, over the years, as he got older and it became clear that the Raiders would never recover to their glory days and that the Pats were building a Dynasty (TM), my Dad switched allegiances and is now a hardcore Pats fan. The Raiders are dead to him, Brady and Belichick (puke emoji) are mythical heroes, and by the way, I married a woman named Alison—i.e., “Al Davis.” What does that say?!



For years I told myself that if the Tuck Rule had actually gone our way, we’d have gone on to beat a surprisingly shitty Steelers team in the AFC championship and probably beaten St. Louis in the Super Bowl. But in reality, we probably would’ve had our dicks kicked in by Kordell Stewart.

Mark Davis telling the Oakland fanbase he wants to win a title for us before moving to Vegas is basically like telling your wife you’ll get her that diamond necklace she’s always wanted before you divorce her for a stripper.



It hurts to write this email. I grew up in the 70s and 80s in North Carolina, when there were no Panthers, but ‘Star Wars’ was a big thing and the Raiders had fans that dressed up like Darth Vader, and that was just the coolest thing I had ever seen, so I’ve pulled for them ever since.

I’ve given up trying to defend them at this point. The ‘Commitment to Excellence’ motto is going to look GREAT spelled out in glitter on g-strings in Vegas as an advertising strategy. My wife is a huge Panthers fan, and it’s gotten so embarrassing at this point that I just give up. It hurts to look for scores and highlights. Just end it. Contract them and just give the other teams on their schedule an extra week off. It’d be more of a challenge and more entertaining in many ways.

The Raiders draft the players they shouldn’t draft, and when they manage to actually do okay and draft a Kahlil Mack or Amari Cooper, they wind up somewhere else for pennies on the dollar.

This is a team that has drafted more Napoleans (Kaufman and Harris) in than played in recent Super Bowls. They drafted Darius Heyward-Bey because he could run quickly in straight lines. They drafted D. J. Hayden, seemingly out of a macabre need to see if his chest would explode. They did better in the first round in 2011 and 2012 when they had no first round pick. They traded a potentially-generational talent in Mack for a low first round pick and a talented receiver in Cooper for an even lower pick. They took those picks and drafted Clemson’s third best lineman at 4 instead of 24 or 27, where he would have quite possibly still been waiting for Jon Gruden’s call.



There was actually serious, sober discussion about why despite going 4-12 with a team that had been 12-4 two years prior, that Jon Gruden was in fact a “secret genius.” Even otherwise respected football minds became infected with this type of thought. The Raiders are only pretending to be dumb.

Then the draft happened, proving the Raiders scout college football exactly as much as I do. Clelin Ferrell 4th overall? Of fucking course. Running back in the first round? Baby you know it.

Raiders fans fell over each other to defend picking Clelin Ferrell over the much more highly regarded Josh Allen because Ferrell “fits Musgrave’s system better” and is “a hand-in-the-ground DE,” as if the Raiders had Von Miller at edge rusher they’d be puzzled as to how to use him. Which, of course, they would be.

There is a Raiders fan theory going around that the reason Ferrell wasn’t more highly regarded was because Mayock was a GM now and therefore wasn’t in the pre-draft media hyping him up like he normally would be in previous years. So in the universe in which Mayock is still on NFL Network instead of the Raiders GM, everybody understands that Ferrell is better than Von Miller and Khalil Mack combined.

Jalen Richard doesn’t vaccinate his kids, claiming peer-reviewed studies and his college education informed his decision. Ironically, his children will be unable to attend that same college, due to their vaccination policy.



Last year I was waiting to board my flight to Cabo to go on vacation when I refreshed Twitter just before going on Airplane mode and saw the Mack trade news. At that point I washed my hands of the Raiders for the year and I have to say it may have been my most enjoyable season of watching football in a decade. I had more success with gambling, fantasy football, and daily fantasy than any year in the past and it’s probably because my vision wasn’t clouded by delusions of Raiders grandeur.


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Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.