NFL

NFL AM: Stuck in Los Angeles Limbo, Raiders Sign One-Year Oakland Lease

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After being left at the altar in the three-team Los Angeles moving triangle, the Raiders have settled back into Oakland, at least temporarily.

The franchise announced this week that they have signed a new lease to call Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum their home again in 2016, with options to extend that lease for two more years. Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Raiders owner Mark Davis spoke of the opportunity staying in Oakland in the short-term gives the Raiders for the long-term.

“It’s a win-win,” Davis said. “It gives us an opportunity to work on a permanent facility for the Raiders here in Oakland. It gives us some certainty for this season as well as flexibility for the following two seasons.”

However, the downside to this agreement is that the Raiders will play at least one more season, if not several, in arguably the league’s worst stadium. O.Co Coliseum was opened in 1966 and the Raiders spent 15 years there before relocating to Los Angeles in 1982. After 12 years in LA, the Raiders moved back in 1995, joining Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics as co-tenants. O.Co Coliseum is the last stadium in the country shared by NFL and MLB teams.

For that reason, among many other issues that have plagued O.Co Coliseum over the last several years, the Raiders have been actively seeking an alternative, either in Oakland or outside, to no avail.

Davis, who took over the team after the passing of his father, long-time owner Al Davis, has often publicly stated his desire to keep the Raiders in Oakland. But behind the scenes he’s worked in the opposite direction, attempting to move the team, most notably back to Los Angeles. He has also explored options in San Antonio and Las Vegas. But Davis has been rebuffed repeatedly in his attempts to relocate the Raiders.

“If people are going to call you and offer you things to look at, you have to look at them,” Davis said. “But my heart is here in Oakland and if we can get something done, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The most recent attempt to move the Raiders fell woefully short as they came in third place of the three teams looking to move to Los Angeles this offseason. Ultimately the St. Louis Rams won out and will play at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016 while construction begins on a stadium in Inglewood to be their permanent home. The Chargers have been given the opportunity to join the Rams in LA as secondary occupants of the new Inglewood Stadium, but have not exercised that option as yet. If they forego that opportunity, it would fall to the Raiders.

Davis’ flirtations with other cities may just be a pressure play to try to get Oakland to come to terms on a new stadium for the Raiders. But they have not worked thus far. Both Davis and Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff have been attempting to get stadiums built for their teams for several years, with little movement.

At some point the city of Oakland and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which represents the city in these dealings, will have to step up to the plate and get a deal done if they hope to keep their teams. They’re already in the midst of losing the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco. Perhaps the Warriors’ exit will push Oakland to get something done with the Raiders, Athletics or both. In an interview with the Associated Press, Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, who is the chair of the JPA, expressed positivity about moving forward with the Raiders and hope that Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf can come up with a solution.

“I feel very optimistic about the situation,” Reid said. “It gives [Schaaf] and her team an opportunity to work with the Raiders on putting together a perm facility that will keep the Raiders here in the city of Oakland. This is an NFL city.”

TALIB SLAPPED ON WRIST FOR SUPER BOWL RECKLESSNESS

Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was flying all over the field in an often reckless manner on Super Bowl Sunday, doing whatever was necessary to help his team secure a championship. He accomplished that goal, and doing so is going to cost him a little bit.

The league announced on Friday that Talib has been fined for two separate infractions in Denver’s 24-10 championship triumph and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the fines levied on Talib totaled just a shade over $26,000. Speaking after the Super Bowl, Talib predicted that fines were coming, but noted that it was worth it if that was the cost to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

“B.S. flags. One of them was on our sideline, the guy was talking on our sideline. One I just did on purpose, you know, I just had to show him,” Talib said after the win. “It’s probably going to be a fine, but hey, we’re world champs.”

The part of that statement that’s problematic is Talib admitting to purposefully committing a violent facemask penalty against Carolina’s Philly Brown early in the second quarter. Brown was headed toward the end zone when Talib grabbed his facemask and brutally yanked him to the ground out of bounds. Because the penalty happened so close to the goal line, the penalty was one-yard, hardly befitting the crime.

Many believed that Talib should have been ejected for the play. That may have been too a harsh punishment in the moment, during the biggest game of the year, and without knowing Talib’s full intent. However, his admittance of guilt and reasoning that he had to “show him” warrants more than a slap on the wrist, which is what a $26,000 fine to a guy who made $8.5 million last season amounts to.

The NFL’s lack of consistency on things like this continues to be problematic. That Vontaze Burfict gets suspended three games for a glancing blow to the head of Antonio Brown in a Wild Card game and Talib doesn’t even get suspended one game for brutally pulling a guy down by the facemask and contorting his neck in a way that could have caused serious injury in the Super Bowl is so terribly inconsistent.

Are we really basing punishment on whether a guy happens to get injured or not? Is Burfict’s punishment less if the exact same thing happens but Antonio Brown happens to pop back up and continue playing? Is Talib suspended if Corey Brown doesn’t pop back up and continue playing? So if you commit a penalty and the guy gets hurt, you and your team are in trouble, but if not we’ll just give you a pointless fine and move on? That’s the precedent the NFL is setting right now and it’s absurd. The punishment should fit the crime, not the aftermath. Right now, it doesn’t and this is just another thing on a long list of them that the NFL needs to fix about the way they do things.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III MOVES CLOSER TO WASHINGTON EXIT

On his 26th birthday, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III cleared another hurdle in his road out of the nation’s capital.

Griffin reportedly passed his exit physical without issue, paving the way to his forthcoming release by the Redskins. That should happen within the next month as Griffin’s current contract has a $16.155 million option for 2016 that becomes fully guaranteed on March 9. Washington GM Scot McCloughan is playing it close to the vest on Griffin’s future status with the Redskins, possibly hoping to find a trade partner, but given the contract, that is a pipe dream. Still, he insisted in an interview at the Senior Bowl that the team hasn’t made a decision on what to do with Griffin as of yet.

“The thing that’s good about where we are right now is, we have until March 9,” McCloughan said. “That’s why I want to sit with the coaches – and not just the coordinators, position coaches; everybody – and get a feel for it, because [Griffin] is a good football player, he’s a really good person, and he’s under contract. And that’s where we are right now.”

The 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year sat on the sidelines for the entirety of his fourth NFL season while Kirk Cousins, who was taken by Washington in the same draft class as Griffin, led the Redskins to the playoffs. Though he had to be unhappy with what his role was reduced to, Griffin said and did all the right things over the course of the season, which should merit him some praise from both inside and outside the organization.

Once he is released, he will be free to find a new home. The 26-year-old quarterback still has plenty of promise to offer any team willing to take a shot on him. The No. 2 overall pick in 2012, Griffin burst onto the scene that season, posting gaudy numbers and helping lead the Redskins to the postseason. However injuries, immaturity and inconsistency plagued him over the next two seasons and forced Washington to turn to Cousins last year while Griffin spent the season in sweats on the sideline. But the way he handled that situation showed that he has matured.

Now he’ll get the chance to show if he’s grown on the field with whatever team decides to give him a shot, and make no mistake, somebody will look at the talent he displayed in 2012 and do exactly that. Many believe he’s destined for Dallas, to become Tony Romo’s protege and insurance policy, however the Cowboys won’t be the only team in the mix for the Texas native and former Baylor star. His home state’s other team, the Houston Texans, are also in need of a quarterback, as are the Los Angeles-bound Rams, who may be looking for a potential star to market and could take a cheap risk on Griffin becoming that guy once again. Chip Kelly and the San Francisco 49ers could also be in play, as Griffin would be a good fit for the offense Kelly runs. And there will surely be others in on Griffin, making a guy who didn’t play a snap in 2015 one of the offseason’s most talked about free agents. So it goes at the quarterback position.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys