We get it, Oakland Raiders fans. Nobody has to sell us on your fervor. You backed the team militantly and unquestioningly.
And now you are hurt, shocked and disappointed that owner Mark Davis is packing up and leaving for the $750 mil- lion that he’s going to collect in Las Vegas.
It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Unfortunately, it is time to confront a hard truth.
You have been in an abusive relationship with the Raiders for years.
You know how that works. One side is all in — passionately committed, deeply devoted and utterly enamored. No need to show us your tattoos, Raiders fans — we know which side you represent.
And the other party is like ... whatever. They are, at best, callous and indifferent to taking advantage of others. At worst they are malicious. That would be the Raiders.
I moved to San Francisco in 1980 to cover the team. Before I even got to town, Al Davis announced he was moving the Raiders to Los Angeles.
That was in 1980. Keep that in mind. This team has been shopping itself around to cities for nearly 40 years. Anywhere in the country for another couple of million a year.
The 1982 move to LA hit me hardest. Those were the days when season tickets were affordable enough that a whole family could attend. The Raiders players talked about seeing a mom, dad and kids in the same seats for every game. They’d notice how much the kids had grown the next year.
The Raiders won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1980 season.
Thousands of Oakland fans turned out in the rain for a parade through the city streets. The connection between the blue-collar city and the Silver and Black never seemed stronger. Surely team ownership would take notice.
Naw, Al Davis said, we’re still moving.
We were heading to a road game in 1982 when I caught Davis at a coffee stand in the Oakland airport and asked him: How can you do this? These fans love the team. It means so much to Oakland.
“You don’t understand,” he said, exasperated.
He was sure cable TV was the next big thing and LA was the place to be. A bigger market, more exposure. Mark Davis just said it the other day. His dad was all about the future.
LA turned out to be a dud. They kicked around down there and although they won a Super Bowl, it never seemed right. They drafted Todd Marinovich. They played at the antiquated LA Coliseum, which was in such a dangerous neighborhood that ABC refused to stage Monday Night Football games there.
A new stadium never appeared.
Davis had a little fun with Irwindale, which swallowed the snake oil and gave him $10 million for — what was that for again?
And then, when it didn’t seem to be working, and it was getting harder to book a table at the Polo Lounge, Al got on the phone to his ex, Oakland, who was surprised and delighted he’d called.
Al: I want to come home, where they understand the greatness of the Raiders.
Oakland: Gosh. Sure. Absolutely. Let’s do it.
Al: But you’re gonna have to fix up the house. I’m thinking a $225 million public bond from the city, a sweetheart lease that has us paying less than $1 million a year and a pointless extension of the grandstands that a San Francisco Chronicle columnist will call Mount Davis.
Oakland: Done and done. Great to have you back.
Al: Yeah, unless we go to Sacramento. We’re talking to them, too.
Fast forward to today.
Mark Davis: All those improvements are now a little old and tattered. And this whole Oakland thing with the A’s is getting tiresome, so maybe we’ll go to San Antonio. Or maybe back to Los Angeles with the Chargers. Or, maybe Las Vegas.
Oakland: But we supported you. We went into debt for you. We created an enormous white elephant of a stadium that we still owe millions of dollars to pay off.
And most of all, we cared. We claimed you as our own and stood up for you. Now you are going to desert this town — which wants so desperately to succeed — a SECOND TIME? Seriously?
Mark Davis: Uh yeah, feel terrible for the fans. Love Oakland and will always have fond memories, but ...
See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.
That’s how it works in an abusive relationship. One side, loyal, committed and true, tries to make it work. And they are sure that if they just work harder, the other side will appreciate the passion and commitment. Instead of being a self-absorbed opportunist, the object of affection will change, recommit and repay loyalty with loyalty.
And maybe that works sometimes. But not here. Raiders fans gave everything to their team. The team shrugged, moved and broke hearts.
It’s true. Love hurts.
Press Democrat sports columnist C.W. Nevius can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cwnevius.