Oakland Raiders Futility Rooted Deep in Team’s Culture

One of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s biggest tasks when he took over the Oakland Raiders three years ago was to change the losing culture of the football team. A task that has no doubt proven more difficult than he imagined because it’s more deeply rooted than a few veteran free agents can solve.

The Raiders are losers now—a description that extends beyond the football field. Just lose, baby. Commitment to excrement. No pride and no poise. That’s not just garden-variety hate anymore; it’s reality.

After years of thinking owner Al Davis was the problem, the Raider Nation can now only wonder why doing things differently hasn’t worked. Why is every other general manager from the Ron Wolf-Ted Thompson tree having success except McKenzie? Why can’t the Raiders turn things around, as other teams seem to be able to do?

The Raiders are 0-9, and headed for 1-15 or 0-16. Everyone knows it. The players are playing with good effort, but that’s not good enough. No matter how hard interim head coach Tony Sparano tries, the culture of losing is so embedded that it’s going to take something significant to turn things around.

That’s why simply firing McKenzie at the end of the year is not enough; it’s just more of the same from the Raiders. Cycling through burnout after burnout isn’t going to turn things around for the Raiders. Blaming McKenzie for all of the Raiders’ problems and not acknowledging that there is a systemic issue would be foolish.

The Raiders' streak of seasons with at least eight losses hit puberty two weeks ago. McKenzie’s struggle is just a toddler. Before McKenzie, Al Davis blamed coach after coach for the losing despite the evidence that he was responsible for the team’s struggles.

Has anything really changed?

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