The Oakland Raiders have been one of the NFL’s basement units for almost 20 years and could be the most cursed team out of the 32 outfits. Their decline has been sad to see as they were once a powerhouse of the league between the 1970s and 1980s, winning the Super Bowl three times.
They enjoyed a resurgence under Jon Gruden in the early 2000s, but fortune was not on their side in a defeat to the New England Patriots in 2001 in the Divisional Round. It appeared as though Tom Brady had fumbled the ball after being sacked by Charles Woodson. However, the ‘Tuck Rule’ overturned the call on the field, allowing the Patriots to keep the ball and tie the contest before going on to win the game.
The result prompted then owner the late Al Davis to fire Gruden, who then moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had the last laugh against the Raiders, defeating them in Super Bowl XXXVII. It was a moment that has come to epitomize the franchise since.
They’ve known nothing other than failure and even when they’ve had the opportunity to improve with the number-one pick the Raiders managed to select one of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history. Art Shell’s disastrous 2-14 campaign in 2006 put them in position. Jamarcus Russell was the best player among the consensus of executives and pundits. However, the Raiders endured a miserable time with Russell as their quarterback over three seasons before he was released. It haunted the franchise for a long period before the finally landed Derek Carr in the second round in 2014.
Carr has developed into a solid player, but in true Raiders fashion, even his best season was cursed. He was outstanding over the course of the 2016 campaign, guiding Oakland to a 12-4 record. However, with two matches to play he suffered a broken leg, ruling him out of the playoffs. Without him, Jack Del Rio’s men crashed out in the first round.
Del Rio’s was harshly fired after the 2017 season, prompting the return of Gruden with the Raiders looking for a new man to lead the franchise’s move towards Las Vegas. The first term was a failure, but the off-season brought hope with an ambitious move for Antonio Brown. Nothing could possibly go wrong after luring one of the NFL’s best wideouts to Oakland, right?
Well, it has been tumultuous to say the least with Brown even before his first official Raiders game. He suffered burns to his feet in a cryochamber in France, while he has also threatened retirement in a dispute regarding his helmet. Good thing the Raiders have not been the subject of a televised documentary series during the entire process… oh.
They will be underdogs to say the least in the betting tips for the Super Bowl. Gruden has reinforced that message several times throughout the summer. It will take a huge effort not only to win the AFC West but also compete in the division against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, who are among the favorites for the Super Bowl.
It’s a vital season for Oakland to dispel any notion that they are a joke franchise. Even Gruden has been criticized for his outdated methods that have been documented on Hard Knocks. Another term of poor results will further suggest that the Raiders are a cursed team.