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Adrift in Oakland: A Season of Distrust and Uncertainty Is Sinking the Raiders

Adrift in Oakland: A Season of Distrust and Uncertainty Is Sinking the Raiders
Published On: Thu, Nov 08
Aug 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at Oakland Alameda Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Initially, there's the expected misery.

The distinct feeling that you've plummeted into football hell.

From the Oakland Raiders sideline, the most audible sounds come from grown men in face paint, shoulder pads, spikes and scowls as they boo the team that's abandoning them for Las Vegas. One rogue drunk chants a sarcastic "Let's Go Vegas!" with aA clap-clap-clapclapclapA from the first row, and nobody seems to care. Once this soul-sucking 42-28 loss to the Colts is complete, players and coaches all lumber through the carcass of a tunnel with the same zombie gait.

The Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas in 2020, but four more games in this stadium this season feel like four too many.

Then, the boss appears. The one who'sA reportedlyA making $100 million over the next 10 years should absorb the most vitriol. Surely, that pack of silver and black that awaitsA Jon GrudenA above the tunnel will spray him with beer and curse words. Red in the face, eyes down, limping more than strutting, Gruden inches closer...and closer...and...

"Chuck-ee! Chuck-ee!"

"Chuck-ee! Chuck-ee!"

No TV cameras are around. Only 50 or so rabid fans nudge ahead of one another for a better view of their hero. You'd think the Raiders had just smashed the Coltsa€”not the other way around.

Gruden slows down, looks up, nods.

"We'll be back."

Four days later, Gruden's team proceeds to lie down and die on national television against the 1-7 49ers. A franchise that's perpetually buying real estate at rock bottom has found a way to sink even deeper. Oakland is 1-7 and losing to quarterbacks you've never heard of.

That's because to bring the Raiders back, Gruden believes he must dismantle the team he inherited. And he's been granted unprecedented time, patience and power by owner Mark Davis to do so. Forget rebuildinga€”this is a demolition. MoreA ArmageddonA thanA Fixer Upper.

Gruden talked to his team about fighting for a championship all summer, only to trade away a Hall of Fame talent just over one week before the 2018 season began. The shock of the Khalil Mack deal infiltrated his team's bloodstream like a virus, a virus that's only continued to spread and left everyone with the distinct fear that no job is safe here.

Read the complete news article here...

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