It is list making time in the NFL offseason -- this year more than others, but even in the busiest of NFL offseasons, now is when the weird rankings come out for everything you can possibly imagine. Now is when the rumors and projections fly freely without the burden of proof to cage them. That proof is still months away and by then everyone will have forgotten... hopefully.
But despite all the weird lists and guessing games, there are interesting news stories that roam among them. Today we will touch on the current affairs that surround the Raiders just because we like to keep busy as much as you do. Here are some of those stories with both my and my partner in crime (but only in crime) Bret Armstrong's individual takes.
Raiders ranked number three on the ESPN Power rankings for... best NFL Helmets
Dizzle's take: This is a perfect example of the worst of the lockout. When ESPN is power ranking helmets, it is a slow NFL news day to be sure. But I will humor it because, hey, it's a slow news day for us all. The Raiders as third best helmet is pretty good. The Steelers were ranked number one for many reasons that are hard to argue with, the connection to the city's steel industry and the unique design being the two most prevalent. But how do the Colts get ranked ahead of the Raiders? A white helmet with a single colored horseshoe is not power nor design. Most teams would have updated their helmet by this point. The Raiders should at very least be #2 and arguably at the top. There is no helmet more iconic and, unlike the Colts, no one would ever even consider re-designing it. Raiders and Steelers are #1 and #1a as far as I can tell. But this list means very little because making a mockery of the whole thing is the Browns coming in at #8. They don't even have a logo and their helmet is a hideous burnt orange color. Someone really needs to explain the criteria to the voters because I don't think they understand what it is.
BA's Take: I don't know why, but for some reason this is funny to me. The Raiders have one of the most classic helmets in the NFL, so I guess that's really what makes it so special. The skull and crossbones pirate reference make followers of the Raiders feel a little – and in some cases a lot – rebellious. I actually prefer the alternate inside out color scheme from the classic AFL days to the uniform they have normally. And several times throughout my fanhood I've wondered if they'd ever change the uniforms. To this day they haven't and I can't see why they would if they are still ranked #3 overall.
Scout's Inc: Raiders have the best defensive line in the AFC West
BA's take: If this were asking the question can the Raiders be the best in the west, I could understand it. But clearly, the San Diego Chargers being the best overall defense in 2010, you can't count them out. Perhaps it's because the Raiders have the most linemen on their line that they get this consideration. With two of the most productive interior linemen in the league last year and up and coming defensive ends, the Raiders' defense could certainly be the best in the West. And if they play to their true potential they could end up being one of the best defensive units in the entire NFL. Games are won and lost in the trenches more often than not, and the Raiders have been pathetic against the run since 2002, so hopefully this unit will gel in that regard.
Dizzle's take: I have been saying the Raiders had one of the best defensive lines in football since late last season. Right about the time Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston started locking down the edges while terrorizing quarterbacks, the Raider defensive line suddenly became very solid. They joined the already solid play of Tommy Kelly and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour. Then you consider the solid depth the Raiders have in the middle with Desmond Bryant and John Henderson and there is little question. Of course there isn't much competition in the AFC West. The Chargers line is in rebuilding mode, as are the Chiefs. And the Broncos have arguably the worst defensive line in football even with Elvis Dumervil returning from injury. Then they went and drafted a linebacker with the second pick overall. Von Miller is a great player but they needed a defensive tackle.
Raiders staff members selling tickets but will get paid if there is no season
Dizzle's take: It is a somewhat unique idea to have staff members peddling season tickets, but not unheard of. While other owners are punishing their employees with furloughs and pay cuts, the Raiders employees are extremely happy to be working for an organization that gives them an option. This approach has drawn considerable praise across the sports world and has shown that working for the Raiders might just be pretty attractive after all. There are a few schmucks out there who are kicking themselves right about now for not accepting a job with the Raiders. All these supposed classy franchises are now showing how they care more for the bottom line while the supposed classless franchise with its pariah owner Al Davis is showing what he has always shown -- that people come first. It is old school, and it is refreshing.
BA's take: So the Raiders staff members are all selling tickets to games that they might not even play this year, but they will get paid if there is no season. This makes no sense to me. I really hope the NFL has the common sense to give fans a refund of their money if the season actually does fall through. What a catastrophe they would have on their hands. I'm thinking about going to the Buffalo game this year in week 2, but I don't really want to buy tickets until I know what's going on with the CBA. So to the Raiders staff members, all I can say: good luck and Godspeed. And remember, your no-season-pay is based on commission for ticket sales.
With Broncos dropping out of running (like Bucs), is it between Saints and Raiders for HBO's "Hard Knocks"?
BA's take: Wow, really? Hey, it is a good way to make some cash. I guess I would have to subscribe to HBO or be left out of the loop. I seriously hope they take us journalists into consideration before making their decision. I wonder, for those who show up to practices, do they get paid for being on the Raiders romp of reality TV? Honestly, this is about the last bit of dysfunction the Raiders need in their lives right now. They just got away from all the drama and I'm not sure what the logic would be for getting back into it. It'd be a hard knock for such a young team to take part in such glitz and glamour. That's why Al Davis has to just say no to Hard Knocks.
Dizzle's take: I have said since this idea was first introduced that there is no way in hell the Raiders let HBO's Hard Knocks anywhere near them. Al Davis is fiercely protective of his practices. ESPN was not allowed to bring cameras inside the fence for their 32 teams in 32 days tour last year. And the media is confined to a rectangle about 20 yards wide on the practice field. Al Davis does not allow cameras to be pointed in his direction while he is in attendance and rarely makes public appearances these days. BUT... after every other team has turned HBO down, I think there might be a glimmer of a shred of a possibility. The Raiders would impose very strict stipulations on the film crew as to what they could film and what they could use on the show. Stipulations that they would not accept under normal circumstances. But if they were left with no other choices, they would be more likely to agree to whatever hoops Al Davis would insist they jump through in order to have the right to make the show about the most intriguing franchise in all of sports. Al would have them right where he wants them and it could be a great marketing tool before all is said and done.