Editor’s note: In the lead-up to the NFL draft (May 8-10) bookmark this page to keep tabs on which players the Raiders have had reported contact
ALAMEDA -- The Raiders’ reputation around the league is none too flattering. An 8-24 record over the last two years and a decade-plus without a winning season will do that to a club.
Typically, players aren’t doing the dogging. Before a game they’ll say all the right things, trying to avoid giving an overmatched opponent added incentive.
Get them away from such traps and answers are a bit more honest. Even, apparently, when the Raiders are writing the checks.
“A lot of people always say that you go to Oakland for your career to die,” new defensive end Justin Tuck said Tuesday. “No, I’m not looking at it like that.”
This older free agent class plans on using its pedigree and championship experience to change a losing culture inside the club and its perception around the league.
“When you played the Raiders in the past, you were putting that win on the board already,” receiver James Jones said. “Now everybody has to look themselves in the mirror; we have to understand we don’t get any respect. You’re not going to get no respect when you’re 4-12, so we have to go out there and take it this year. I believe we have the right guys to do that.”
The Raiders signed players with recent postseason experience. All told, new free agents have six Super Bowl rings. Even more have played in a Super Bowl. Six of 13 established imports have made the Pro Bowl. That isn’t coincidence. The Raiders brought those players in to teach incumbents how to win tough games.
That’s important because the 2013 Raiders couldn’t finish. The Raiders lost five games by less than 10 points, and a few more after sporting halftime leads.
“I would say we thought they were talented but hadn’t put together, as far as knowing how to win,” Tuck said. “They beat themselves a little bit. Just go back to our game (against Tuck’s New York Giants) last year. They had an opportunity to win, but just couldn’t close it out. That’s been the M.O., I guess.”
Tuck said learning how to close -- and adding a quarterback -- could make these Raiders last season’s Kansas City Chiefs, a 2-14 club in 2012 that was an 11-5 playoff team in 2013.
The free agents who spoke during Tuesday’s press conference swore their decision to don Silver and Black wasn’t just a cash grab from a team willing to write the biggest check. There’s a need to give back, and help turn around a once-proud franchise that’s fallen on extremely hard times.
“I’m looking at it like this is an opportunity to revive a very historic franchise in a city with a great fan base that is going to be behind this football team,” Tuck said. “The energy and excitement around this football team should be great. I’m excited about it.”