ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Perhaps the biggest misconception to come out of the Oakland Raiders not winning the right to move to the Los Angeles suburb of Carson with the San Diego Chargers is that the Raiders are staying put in the East Bay.
In fact, the Raiders have no lease for any stadium for the 2016 season, and while re-upping with the O.co Coliseum seems the most likely scenario, it is not the only one.
Far from it.
A quick look, then, at where the Raiders might play home games next season, keeping in mind Raiders owner Mark Davis already shut down the notion of St. Louis to replace the departing-for-Los Angeles Rams.
Not all that original, I know, but it makes the most sense and, well, it just feels right. Of course, the Raiders would have to re-up with the O.co Coliseum for at least a year since no lease currently exists. But it would serve as a good-faith effort, so to speak, by all parties involved, to show that the Raiders and the city of Oakland truly want the team to stick around the East Bay. Here’s an idea: The NFL has already pledged $100 million to the Raiders’ stadium efforts if they stay put, so if the San Diego Chargers do indeed join the Rams in Inglewood, how about the league give the $100 million also earmarked for the Chargers to stay in San Diego to the Raiders as another good-faith investment, given that the league basically broke up the Raiders’ coalition with Chargers owner Dean Spanos? It’s not enough to fill that gap, but it helps. Now about those Athletics ...
Joining the 49ers
This, in my humble opinion, is what the NFL would prefer the Raiders do, and not just for one year. Look, Levi’s Stadium is actually closer to the Coliseum than it is to the San Francisco 49ers’ old stomping grounds at razed Candlestick Park. But it’s the Niners’ yard. No doubt about it. From the color scheme to the design to the museum touting the team’s rich history and five Super Bowl titles. The Raiders would be tenants, rather than cohabitants, much like the New York Jets were at Giants Stadium when they moved from Shea Stadium in Queens to New Jersey in 1984, and Mark Davis wants nothing to do with it. Fair enough.
Goin’ South to San Diego
Of course, this requires the Chargers moving to Inglewood with the Rams to vacate Qualcomm Stadium, but this is intriguing. After all, anytime the Raiders played the Chargers at the erstwhile Murph, it felt like Oakland South, what with Raiders fans taking over the joint. Plus, the Raiders already have a strong history in Mission Valley. Or have you forgotten about the Holy Roller, the 1980 AFC title game, Super Bowl XXXVII? On second thought, scratch that Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But you’re picking up what I’m putting down, no? The Raiders would still be in California, would have a fervent fan base in Los Angeles a two-plus-hour drive away and fans in Oakland an hour flight away. Yet, the NFL has already said San Diego’s stadium situation is a non-viable condition for the Chargers. Why would that change for the Raiders?
The ultimate irony
So, if the Chargers take a pass on joining the Rams up in Inglewood, the Raiders can then move back to L.A. ... yes, in Stan Kroenke’s $1.9 billion football palace as a second tenant on the same plot of land that Al Davis planned on building his state-of-the-art stadium back in 1994. But, as Davis told it, the NFL wanted the Raiders to take on a second team in Hollywood Park, and rather than adhere, he pulled up stakes and went back to Oakland. How different would the Raiders as a franchise be today if they had been allowed to go solo in Inglewood two decades ago, or if Davis did take in a second team?
Deep in the heart of Texas?
The only surprise here is that it took less than 48 hours for San Antonio to begin publicly wooing the Raiders, as former San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs told ESPN San Antonio Radio on Thursday that he and Mark Davis had spoken this week and that San Antonio had “several locations that would work” to build a stadium and that he has 12 corporate sponsors lined up with “serious commitments.” While it’s hard to believe Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones -- who came up with the plan to jump the Chargers from the Raiders' ticket and onto the Rams' plan -- would allow a third team in Texas, what if Jones did not block the move as an olive branch, of sorts, for breaking up the Raiders-Chargers Carson plan, which actually had the backing of the owners relocation committee? This plan had legs early on in that former Raiders offensive lineman Brad Badger, who worked until recently as the team’s corporate sponsorship manager, is the son-in-law of former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros.