As far as Thanksgivings go, this is one for Raiders fans that is worth a few extra dollops of cranberry sauce on the turkey.
For openers, the team right now is sitting on home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and maybe it should be exercised in Mexico City. It’s a way better place than Las Vegas, if Mark Davis is still thinking about a move from Oakland, which may not happen anyway, thanks to another Thanksgiving week treat for Raiders fans – news from Mayor Libby Schaaf that she has a “framework deal” to keep the team in town.
The Raiders (8-2) share the AFC’s best record with the New England Patriots. Oakland, however, enjoys the tiebreaker over New England by virtue of playing and beating teams with better records than those catapulted by the Patriots. Six games remain, but if the Raiders wind up with the home-field edge, you know the cynics will refer back to two crucial calls in Mexico City that assisted the “Monday Night Football” victory over the Houston Texans – one, when the officials ruled that Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins stepped out of bounds on his way to a touchdown in the first quarter, and two, when they found that the Texans’ Lamar Miller did not make a first down to keep a drive alive with the score tied in the fourth.
Bleary-eyed after a red-eye flight home from Mexico, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio dispatched the controversy with a wave of the hand.
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“He was out,” Del Rio said of Hopkins, “and they marked it appropriately” on Miller’s shortcoming, the coach concluded.
There’s also been some whining about one of the aficionados in Mexico City helping the Raiders by flashing laser pointers into the eyes of Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. You never like it when anybody shines a light in your eyes like that, but at least at Estadio Azteca, they did it to the other guy. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if anybody tried to stick a green beam into Derek Carr’s eyes. The Raiders’ quarterback would have just looked it off and found somebody wheeling out of the backfield.
Of course the Raiders would rather enjoy their home-field advantage in Oakland rather than Mexico City, if and when they play New England or anybody else when they slap the money on the table. The elevation at sea level is much preferable to the thin air of Mexico City’s altitude. Michael Crabtree looked as if he was about to die in it. Crabtree and the rest of the Raiders should be fine, though, once they regain their breath on the return from Tenochtitlan.
With the Raiders humming on the fields of two countries and in the standings, their outlook to remain in the East Bay also improved. Give thanks, Raiders fans, to the principled mayor of your nation’s Oakland chapter who said Tuesday she has a proposal to keep the team in her town.
It appears Schaaf is getting it done in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. For one thing, she’s got Ronnie Lott hitting up the deep pockets in one of the richest regions in the world. No. 42 apparently has convinced her that he’s collected commitments from enough of them to finance a new stadium for the Raiders. Details remain a secret, but they will be revealed sometime after Tuesday, when Lott takes a meeting in executive session with the Oakland City Council. He had one Tuesday with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Secondly, La Mayor appears to be getting it done without putting the hit on her city’s taxpayers. All she’s talking about contributing is about a hundred million in infrastructure improvements that will benefit other commercial interests besides the Raiders. She says even this meager contribution can be financed out of a revenue stream to be generated by the enhanced value of a Raiders stadium, business park and entertainment district.
Lott’s solicitations have taken place at a time when the relationship between the Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, and Las Vegas’ owner, hotelier, casino man and newspaper proprietor, Sheldon Adelson, appears fractured. It looks as if they can’t agree on how much rent Davis is going to pay to play in a stadium that billionaire Adelson is going to want to control. If the Raiders don’t like the terms of the arrangement, Adelson told Reuters he has one word for them, squared: “Bye-bye.”
Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’s “committed to Las Vegas” and remains unmoved by Oakland’s attempts.
The compassionate mayor said she respects Davis’ right to talk to whomever he wants about building a stadium. Schaaf just wants him to know that when and if he is rejected by Adelson, king of the desert, he can always return to the home that will always be there for him, just like it was for his pop, Al, who blew out of Oakland 34 years ago and to which he returned 13 years later. Only this time, the Raiders won’t be getting a $250 million public handout.
“I know he has had a very frustrating history with the city of Oakland,” Schaaf said of the prodigal son’s prodigal son, “and that I have a lot of work to do to bring him a solid proposal that he will be excited about. But I am more optimistic about this than I have ever been since I’ve become the mayor.”
And a little whipped cream on the pumpkin pie, please.