As expected, the Raiders game this weekend in Oakland against the Eagles will be blacked out locally. The lack of support will seem commonplace to most NFL circles outside of the Raider faithfull. But many members of the Raider Nation know better. Sure there is the economy that is hurting the blue collar fan base to go along the usual amount of fans that have little interest in supporting a struggling team but this time, it's personal.
In recent seasons there has been a growing call for a boycott of all things Raiders. Not the least of which would be game tickets. As if the six (going on seven) double digit losing seasons wasn't enough, the extracuricular happenings have been building on the nerves of those who live and die by their beloved Silver and Black and slap down their hard earned money to see them.
The rumblings really started to get loud prior to last season with the news of Lane Kiffin receiving a resignation letter from Al Davis. Then the pissing match that ensued which culiminated in Lane Kiffin being fired after week four of the season. At that point it seemed obvious that Al Davis was putting the Raiders and their fans through another mess of a season just so he could save some money by firing Lane Kiffin "for cause". Whether it was the right decision to fire him was not the issue. It was the timing and the manner in which it all went down.
Now, after a season that ended with some hope for a turnaround, the Raiders look perhaps worse than they have ever looked. The poor play of JaMarcus Russell is the immediate reason for the ineptitude but, like any bad seed, you have to look at the reason behind it. First fans looked at Tom Cable but now the object of their scorn has shifted back to the man at the top.
The general feeling I have gotten is that things are at their breaking point and the fans are saying "Enough!". There has been a outcry to boycott this weekend's game. I have seen many fans on many seperate occasions saying something similar to "Don't buy tickets for this game. Tailgate all you want but do not under any circumstance attend the game."
If were a few isolated fans it would be one thing. But for the first time, I am hearing and seeing that exact same sentiment across the board. This is the first time I have made any commentary on the situation. As a member of the media, it is my duty not to inject my opinion or to attempt to organize such a boycott especially if my intention were to talk about said boycott and/or protest immediately following. (Afterall, we are not Fox News and you are not "Tea Baggers"...so to speak).
Just like any great nation, the Raider Nation should stand up for it's right to protest and the right to organize. Boycotting is a form of protest which is a manifestation of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of speech.
The purpose is to send a message. A message that many in the Raider Nation feel, Al Davis has been ignoring for a long time: "We won't coninue paying for inferior product."
Mr Davis pulls the strings because Mr Davis writes the checks. And right now it appears that those strings are keeping certain players in a starting role in a futile attempt to justify their draft position and their hefty paychecks.
The problem with that logic is that, those player paychecks will be sent regardless. But winning product is what will ultimately him to make the money with which he can fund those checks. You know the saying "Don't let your mouth write checks that your ass can't cash?" Well, right now not only are fans not rushing out to buy a JaMarcus Russell jersey, but they seem to be making a concerted effort to not buy any game tickets.
And unlike waving flags and yelling into a bullhorn, this message is seen in empty seats and heard where Al Davis has no choice but to listen: his pocket book.