A Season in the Balance

August 19, 2005
A Season in the Balance

by Dave Sabo

For most fans, this weekend’s slate of NFL exhibition games is an opportunity to get back in the swing of an NFL season. Most fans will use it to scope out prime tailgating spots, take that new barbeque sauce recipe for a spin, find out what their neighbors in their section have been up to over the past six months and guess which trucking company that 6th-string tackle will be driving for come September. Most fans.

But, for one group of fans, this Saturday is serious. Deadly serious. They’ve been seething all off-season, waiting. Waiting for their chance at redemption. Waiting to exact their revenge. I’m referring, of course, to the spiked and armor-clad buffoons in Oakland.

  I just wanna hug   I wet my bed at night

Judging from the internet chatter and e-mail response to a column about last season’s complete and utter dismantling of Oakland’s floundering pack of wanna-be thugs, the dress-up queens from the wrong side of the bay have built Saturday’s meaningless scrimmage into their Super Bowl.

While last year’s Raider debacle and the column it spawned came in early October, it apparently took the painted dolts 8 months to find somebody to sound out the big words for them and begin whining on the official site, sending incomprehensible e-mails and furiously circling “August 20” on their calendars. Boy, are they mad!

At the time, I thought the Texans dominating victory was a result of exposing their over-rated run defense and the fact that their average age was 51.6-years old. Nope. Turns out that it was all because Rich Gannon got hurt. Had Gannon started, Texans third-string RB, Jonathan Wells, wouldn’t have posted his first 100-yard rushing game ever and the Texans wouldn’t have rolled up nearly 400 yards on offense.

  Joan and Melissa Rivers   Joan & Melissa Rivers

Yeah, I don’t know how that works out either, but at that point, they were on a roll and frothing at the keyboard. Hey, to their credit, having a geriatric with a fractured neck at quarterback IS a better option than running out a drunken quitter like Kerry Collins.

So, having covered how, if only the now retired (and drawing Social Security) Gannon had started, they’d have won; they started in with the Super Bowls and the overall record and the “Commitment to Excellence”. Well, the last Super Bowl win was last century and their last appearance was an equally embarrassing beatdown due to the fact that their head coach failed to realize that Tampa was coached by a guy who would probably have a pretty good idea what play was going to be run unless he changed the terminology. Which he failed to do.

To remedy the situation, Oakland hired a marshmallow-soft milquetoast to replace him. While the overall record is impressive, the Raiders record after their first three seasons stood at 9 and 33; one-hundred and nineteen percentage points worse than the Texans mark of 16 and 32. Their record since the Texans joined the NFL? All of 4 games better than Houston. “Commitment to Excellence” my ass.

  Pimpin' the Raiders ain't easy   Pimpin’ the Ray-duhs ain’t easy

The capper to all their blathering was the one genius who decided to lay down the “who’s gonna be laughing when the Texans move to LA?” smack. First of all, the Texans can sell out their stadium every week while that pit the Raiders play in features vast expanses of empty green seats on Sunday (speaking of which, does anybody know what the hell the name of that dump is? It gets renamed every season it seems). And, second, is it really a good idea to play the “moving to LA” card when your team…ALREADY MOVED TO LA?! C’mon, THINK, McFly!

Hopefully, this sort of lame attitude towards an exhibition game is limited to the Raiders ignorant fans. Surely, the players aren’t attaching any significance to this contest. That would be too pathetic for words. Like any other team, I imagine they’d just like to get the first team some reps and evaluate the depth. Foremost on everyone’s mind should be avoiding injury (much to the dismay of the denizens of the black hole). With those thoughts in mind, maybe it’d be best if Dom pulled the starters early as he did last week and give the once-mighty-but-now-pitiful Silver and Black a shot at a “W”. For a bunch of rubes in Oakland, it appears that this meaningless game against the Texans is all they’ve got.