ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders, as a franchise, didn’t enjoy a ringing endorsement from around the league when, in an ESPN NFL player’s poll, they were voted as the least desirable team to play for.
It’s not totally shocking, but ultimately it doesn’t matter.
From afar, I can see why the Raiders would top this list. They haven’t had a winning record in 12 years. They have had turnover on the coaching staff and a lack of overall stability. I remember a conversation I had with former Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha at the Pro Bowl several years ago. He told me he routinely had players from other teams ask him what it was like to play in Oakland. He said many players were surprised when he responded with positive things to say about the experience.
To me, the result of the poll isn’t a problem for the Raiders. Players will be primarily attracted to teams if they offer a good contract. The Raiders had salary-cap room this year and added Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley among others. These are guys with Super Bowl rings. They went to the Raiders because they were paid well. These players are buying into the Oakland way.
If the Raiders can start winning and keep a responsible salary-cap system, they will continue to be able to attract players. If that’s the case, their reputation around the league will change.