For those of you who are not familiar with their "message", it was delivered in the form of a billboard along interstate 880 in Oakland that read "MR. DAVIS, Do the right thing. Please HIRE A G.M." The message was echoed in an ad taken out in the Oakland Tribune on January 2. The intended recipient of this message was Oakland Raider owner and managing general partner, Al Davis. And the message itself is self explanatory.
But despite the petition that has reached over 50,000 signatures, the pouring in of donations and the resulting billboard, there has yet to be any response whotsoever by the Raiders or Al Davis.
This is what has prompted the site founder, Jared Staszewski, to as he said "take it up a couple notches."
What began as a bit of a pipe dream became a reality when Patrick Patterson caught wind of what Staszewski was attempting to accomplish and initially ran a story on it. That is when the dominos began to fall. One of Patterson's readers had connections to the billboard company, Clear Channel, who then contacted Staszewski about his plan and how they could facilitate it. The word began to spread throughout the Raider fan base; the majority of whom have become disgruntled over the current seven, double digit loss season drought.
As the word spread, the donations came in. So much so that the Staszewski was forced to cut it off after he had reached it's target goal of $7500. That amount paid the $5500 cost of the billboard and the $2000 cost of the ad in the Oakland Tribune.
As soon as the billboard went up, it garnered national media attention. ESPN was talking about it on nearly all of their talk shows and news programs including NFL Live, Around the Horn, Pardon The Interruption, and Jim Rome is Burning. The sudden media attention caught Staszewski off-guard.
"The most surprising part was when I got a call from The Wall Street Journal and the producer of Jim Rome. That's when I knew it was big time."
But even with all the national attention, there was still nothing coming from the one place the message was intended-- Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.
"The only disheartening thing about this whole project is they haven't even acknowledged us," Said Staszewski. "We haven't even got a nod in our direction, and it doesn't look like at the current rate we are going to get anything. My new slogan is ‘I don't want to do what we are about to do,' but if we don't get any acknowledgement or any improvements or anything of that nature, we're going to take it up a couple notches."
When he says a "couple notches" one might think 'ok, so TWO billboards?' But apparently his idea of a couple notches is more like 100 notches. As in "up to 100 billboards of various sizes throughout the East Bay including one immediately across the Nimitz Freeway from the Coliseum, all with the following message: ‘Hire a general manager‘."
The first campaign caught a bit of flack from those same mediots that had given it national attention. The main backlash was that it is a waste of money during a time in which there are far better and more charitable uses of such donations.
The next wave is likely to be received with similar criticism. Especially with it's first and most modest goal for the next wave of the campaign set at $10,000.
Better uses for the initial money aside, the front page of the site does point out that any money over the target amount will be donated to local Oakland charities. And when I asked him about any sponsors that have stepped up and offered to contribute portions of the donations to charity, he said "No, but we are open to it." So, if there are any prospective sponsors reading this that would like to step up and match a portion of the donations for charity, the opportunity is here for you to do that.
Up to this point however, the members of the Raider Nation that have made their donations seem to think that uniting to send a clear message to Al Davis is a charitable enough cause all by itself.
According to Jared Staszewski, he has received a few fans' donations who claim to be giving messagetoal.com the money that they previously paid for their season ticket. And, judging by the already considerably low attendance numbers in Oakland last season, that may send the clearest message of all.