Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2011

Column: Faithful Raiders’ fan optimistic for upcoming season

July 28, 2011

Whew! We can all breath a bit sigh of relief.

Football is back.

Of course, the collegiate football season was going to happen, despite handfuls of NCAA sanctions to several high-profile teams. The NCAA season wasn’t in doubt, but that wasn’t a concern of mine and most football fans around the country.

For 132 days, National Football League fans were kept in suspense about the future of an upcoming season. The NFL lockout and labor dispute had the season and frankly, my Sunday afternoons, in jeopardy. On Monday, an agreement was reached and symbolic trumpets sounded around the country.

Now it’s football, football and more football news. This week and the weeks to follow will be filled with free agent signings, trades and high-profile player cuts as teams work to get under the $120 million salary cap. It’s madness, but I love it.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. The team that is most above the salary cap right now is my beloved Oakland Raiders. It comes as no surprise that owner Al Davis overspent his roster last year, in a year where there was no salary cap. However, now cuts must come to accommodate the salary cap.

This frightens me. The Raiders came out of the AFC West cellar a year ago with an awe-inspiring 8-8 record. It marked the first non-losing season since their Super Bowl run in 2002.

I’ll admit this life-long lover of the Silver and Black enjoyed watching his team sweep all three AFC West opponents. The Raiders made history as the first team to ever win all division games but not reach the playoffs.

They choked in several non-AFC West games. Plain and simple. I’m not making excuses for them. However, rival fans can’t make much of an argument that their team is better when they lost my Raiders twice. Granted they made the playoffs, but were they better than Oakland? Not likely. They just won the winnable games, unlike Oakland.

Last season did bring up a discussion item. Should the division winners be determined by the teams’ division record or overall record? If you sweep your division, aren’t you the best among those teams?

I’m over it. I was over it when it happened. Winning the final game of the season at Arrowhead Stadium helped the grieving process.

Now we move toward this season. The Raiders won’t be resigning one of the league’s top cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha. Sad day. He was great on and off the field.

Other rumors are floating around that the Raiders might cut tight end Zach Miller, who was the best receiving threat a year go. Another possible cut might be former Texas safety Michael Huff. These were critical pieces to last year’s success and future success.

One thing is for certain, as far as I know, Darren McFadden will be returning, along with Michael Bush. Together, they made up the second-best rushing attack in the NFL. They both bring speed and size to the field, along with the ability to “truck stick” anyone. Madden videogamers will understand.

Some solid pieces will return to the offense that improved last year. Quarterback Jason Campbell is back, along with the youn wide receiving core. Silver and Black fans: let’s hope last year wasn’t a fluke.

For now, I will sit back and watch the madness unfold before the season officially begins in September. It’s time to gather ‘round with all my rowdy friends on Monday nights.

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