Oakland Raiders legends disappointed by move to Vegas

By Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange   |   March 28, 2017 at 1:53 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
1 of 3
| License Photo

PHOENIX -- Reaction from the most historic living legends in Oakland Raiders history was one of severe disappointment and even suspicion when they learned Monday the NFL approved the franchise's move to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote of league owners meeting here.

"This is a tough day for me and all Raiders fans," Hall of Fame coach John Madden told The Sports Xchange. "I coached the Oakland Raiders. I didn't like it when they left for L.A. and I was happy as hell when they returned to Oakland where they belong.

"I know (owner) Mark Davis did what he had to do but you still think there could have been a way to keep them where they belong. The Oakland Raiders belong in Oakland. This hurts, it really does."

Madden was head coach of the Raiders from 1969 through 1978, went to five consecutive AFC title games and coached the Super Bowl XI championship team in the 1976 season.

Jim Otto and Tom Flores, the center and quarterback for the first play in franchise history (1960), were both saddened by news that the team can be Las Vegas-bound within the next three years.

Otto became the Hall of Famer known as Mr. Raider and Flores went on to be head coach of two franchise Super Bowl teams, after the 1980 and 1983 seasons. The first was as the Oakland Raiders, the second was in Los Angeles, although the team still practiced in Northern California.

"I've been through it and we did fairly well, but I really don't like this move," said Flores from his home near Palm Desert, Calif. "I remain optimistic against the odds. The way I see it, the NFL gave the Raiders permission to move, but as we all know things have a way of changing. I support Mark Davis and whatever he must do, but I think there remains the opportunity to rescind this whole move.

"It seems there was a proposal from the mayor that the NFL said was too little too late. There are reasons, I am sure, and this subject has been a big one in Oakland for decades, yet somehow it feels this deal was slammed through too fast, before exhausting opportunities all over the East Bay."

Flores continues to be the voice of the Raiders on radio game coverage and he said he is ready to go wherever is necessary.

"Regardless, I'll always be a Raider and cherish my time with them and I'll go to Vegas if they will have me," he said.

Otto echoed Flores in believing there were opportunities that were not explored completely and was dismayed by what he called "Rush week" the past few days.

"What was the hurry?" Otto asked in a phone call from his home in Auburn, Calif. "The team can't move for years anyway and they could have voted later this year while Oakland had more time to flesh out that latest proposal. I can name several areas they could have pursued."

But Otto's main concern is where the team is going.

"Las Vegas is not a place for any NFL team," he said. "People can say what they want, but there will be temptations that the players don't need. And Las Vegas has the population of middle- and lower middle-class workers and we don't know if they can sustain an NFL franchise.

"I fully respect what Mark Davis must do and, in the end, I give him my total support. But right now I am not happy. The Raiders belong in the Oakland area. It's not like we didn't see this coming, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt. It hurts a lot."

Third -year Raiders quarterback Derek Carr may reflect how current players buy in to the probability of a move. Carr, born in Fresno, attended Fresno State and was drafted in the second round by the Raiders in 2014. Now rehabbing a leg injury incurred Dec. 24, Carr will be 26 years old Tuesday and spent all but two of those years in California (two high school years in Texas).

He was obviously conflicted by the announcement Monday,

"As I sit here and see a vote that takes the Raiders to Las Vegas, I am overwhelmed with emotion," Carr wrote in a statement released by the Raiders. "I don't know how we should feel. I feel the pain of our fans in Oakland. I also see the joy on the faces of our new fans in Las Vegas. As players, we will show up and give everything we have. We will compete and we will do our best to bring a championship to the entire Raider Nation.

"While I am from California and would have loved playing in Oakland my whole career, I understand the business side of the NFL. It affects us all. Oakland, our team loves you, and my family and I love you. We will be resilient and We will stay together because that's what true Raiders do. We are loyal, even when it's hard. We stick together, especially when it's tough.

"So, Las Vegas, you can count on us bringing a piece of Oakland with us and you are getting a tough, loyal, and competitive fan base and team. When the time comes, I hope you are ready. For now, it's about 2017 and our diehards in Oakland. God bless & Go Raiders!"

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories