Oakland Raiders Demise: Understanding What the NFL is Missing

"The NFL is a better league when the Raiders are good." - John Madden, former Raiders head coach .


It is not just the personal bias of a man who guided the renegade Raider teams of the 1970s but a sentiment shared by most affiliated with the NFL.

Like any film, it's only as good as the main antagonist. The Raiders are the NFL's bad boys, the renegades and misfits, the villains of football, and for nearly four decades the NFL's most successful franchise. Only in recent years have the Raiders fallen from their usual status as one of the NFL's elite. In that time the NFL, its fans, and more importantly its players have forgotten what the Oakland Raiders are.

Led by one of the game's greatest pioneers and one of professional sports' most revered and simultaneously hated figures, Al Davis, the Raiders were once the epitome of excellence. Since the Raiders' self-destruction in Super Bowl XXXVII, he has been chastised endlessly by the sports media and vilified by the legions of Raider fans impatiently waiting for the team's return to their standard of excellence.

The Raiders of old were teams that no one wanted to play. They were the team that mercilessly pummeled lower opponents, won when they shouldn't have, and forced any team that beat them to be sorry that they did so. It was a foregone conclusion that a Super Bowl berth would eventually have to be earned by a win over Oakland.

Over the last seven years since the Super Bowl collapse the Raiders' struggles have been well documented. They have become a mere punchline, a league-wide joke.

If someone started to watch the NFL in the 2010 season, they would assume the Raiders have always been pushovers just hearing any major sports magazine or reporter talk about them. They wouldn't understand that an Oakland team that is average by NFL standards is mediocre by the standard set forth by the historical Raider teams.

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