Posted on June 26, 2017, by Travis Pulver
At one point in time, the Oakland Raiders were thought of as the bad boys of the NFL. It was an image cultivated from the top down. Former owner Al Davis had no problem thumbing his nose at the establishment. If a player had big play potential, he didn’t let any disciplinary issues keep him from signing them.
Nowadays some teams will stay away from players who have been in trouble with the law too many times. The Raiders of old welcomed those guys. They didn’t shy away from anyone they thought could contribute because he knew the local police better than he knew the local clergy.
Some of the meanest and toughest players have played for the Raiders over the years. They were often the kind of guys that did want to hurt players and would do anything to gain an advantage. They cultivated the bad boy image because they could and because it was cool.
It’s the bad boy image that likely has some nervous about the team moving to Sin City in the near future. If there was any team that would be expected to succumb to the temptations of Las Vegas it would be the Raiders.
But that bad boy image appears to be fast on its way to becoming a thing of the past.
In fact, it’s been a thing of the past for a few years now. They haven’t had a player get arrested since former linebacker Kaluka Maiava, and his brother were arrested for beating up a couple of men at a bar in Maui—and that was back in 2014!
The Raiders have gone without a single player getting arrested since 2014, the longest streak in the NFL. It’s no longer mug shots and perp walks for the Raiders. It’s graduation and charity work.
“These are the new Raiders where we have educational platforms, where our guys are going back to school, where our guys are establishing businesses. We want young people in Las Vegas, student-athletes, to know that character counts with us. It really is important to us,” Raiders director of player engagement Lamonte Winston said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
They couldn’t have found a better person to personify this new mentality than Derek Carr. The newly-minted highest paid player in NFL history isn’t talking about getting a bigger house or buying a fleet of sports cars with his newly acquired wealth. He’s talking about the good he can do with it and donating to his church.
“The exciting thing for me money-wise, honestly, is this money’s going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people not only in this country but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting for me.”
Is this the kind of thing Lyle Alzado, Jack Tatum, or George Atkisson would have done? They were too busy inflicting pain upon their opponents and instilling fear in the hearts of those who dared take the field against them.
While they may be behaving off the field, on the field they are penalized way too often. They led the NFL in penalty yards last season (146 penalties for 1246 yards; second place— the Jacksonville Jaguars with 129 penalties for 1178 yards). Oakland also tied for second for most unnecessary roughness penalties with ten.
So, on the field, they remain a mean-spirited bunch of guys. But off of it—they are the kind of guys you don’t mind dating your sister.