The Raiders Aren't the Villains They Want to Be
The NFL is an unstoppable behemoth that brings in tens of billions of dollars every single year. The Oakland-Los Angeles-Oakland-Las Vegas Raiders just moved into a $2 billion jet-black giant Roomba in the Nevada desert. This same OAKLAOAKLV Raiders team and their fanbase depict themselves as the ragtag rebels of the NFL, surly and unkempt, fighting against the weight of a corporate league that simply cannot stand seeing those rotten Raiders succeed.
For a long time, that depiction was fitting. When the NFL wasn’t one of the biggest entertainment empires in the world and the Raiders were owned by a cartoon soul-sucking demon villain while playing in a leaky, condemned, concrete shack, they could pass themselves off as the self-appointed bad guys of the league.
Today, the Raiders share a Vegas residency with Penn & Teller and the Blue Man Group. Their quarterback looks like every Hot Topic employee in 2005 who took 15 smoke breaks a shift. They’re owned and coached by two big blonde goobers who are obsessed with the Raiders’ image of yesteryear. The goober owner is paying the goober coach $100 million to pretend to be a rebel.
The Raiders are wearing a costume of their past selves. The Raiders of “The Autumn Wind” haven’t existed for over three decades. What remains is the Disney Channel Original Movie version of the Raiders. Everything about them shimmers and gleams with the polish of existing comfortably in the structure of a multi-billion dollar empire. They are just as much a part of the system as the Cowboys, Packers, or Patriots.
This is what made their Week 5 victory lap around Arrowhead Stadium so adorable. I don’t even mean that sarcastically. The way the Raiders try to pass themselves off as middle-finger rebels is genuinely cute. They’re that tiny, angry, squeaking frog.
The Raiders have now had a total of two defining moments in the last two decades of their rivalry with the Chiefs; plucking Rich Gannon out of Kansas City so they could lose to their own coach in the Super Bowl, and beating Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead in Week 5 of the 2020 season. That’s it.
The Chiefs drawing motivation this week for Sunday Night Football from the Raiders’ silly little victory lap is much closer to '90s Michael Jordan manufactured competitive motivation than any real sense of needing revenge. But it will almost certainly make for an entertaining decimation, so in that way, we all win.
The Raiders in 2020 are like The Simpsons or the NYC Subway. Yeah, they’re still here, but they just don’t have the bite they used to. They don’t feel dangerous.
So, no. This game against the Raiders will not be close. It will not be a fight. It will not be the reigniting of a rivalry. This game is going to be a slaughter. The Chiefs are going to mollywhop this clown show simply because they can. It’ll be an active choice by Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes to embarrass a team that had the gall to celebrate a single regular-season win against them. It will be petty and it will be mean, but it will be necessary.