There is a delicious metaphor in Oakland and the Raiders holding a news conference to announce no news.
Oh, they want you to think it’s news, they want that desperately. But it isn’t. They announced that the Raiders, who want to leave Oakland but cannot because Mark Davis hasn’t the money, power or window to leave, are staying for at least another year, and for an undetermined number of years to come.
Undetermined, of course, because they are waiting for clearance from Dean Spanos, Stan Kroenke, the other 28 NFL owners and any one of a million cities in the world that Davis calls “Raider Nation.”
Thursday’s announcement was therefore a trumped-up bag of nothingness, something that could have been handled just as efficiently by slipping a piece of official letterheaded paper under the press room door at Oakland City Hall saying, “Since they’re not leaving, we’re granting them late checkout.”
Because that’s what this is – an acknowledgement by Oakland that while the Raiders can’t claim squatters’ rights (and frankly wouldn’t want to), they’ve got the effective equivalent.
What it isn’t, on the other hand, is new hope for Oakland, because Oakland hasn’t any more influence on events than Davis does. Less, in fact, because they have to wait on Davis, who has to wait on the list of events and decision-makers we already listed, and they also have to magic up some money that they don’t have and have no way of acquiring barring drugging the electorate into a massive bond issue nobody has any taste for at all.
Now that you’re inspired by what is about to happen, let us refer you to Don Van Natta’s extended piece on how Davis was brought to this pretty pass – by his gloriously treacherous fellow owners, all of whom could choke a quarter into three dimes and get angry when the change machine runs out of coins.
All this is why Davis has no push –- because he is considered a weakling by his fellows, because Kroenke, who owns the Los Angeles Rams and the right to print money until each of us is long and safely dead, won the right to print that money, and because he doesn’t have the leverage to affect his situation.
Oh, he’ll pretend this is some form of largesse on his part, and remind everyone how he simultaneously loves Oakland and its football heritage and wants to beat feet out of town as soon as he sees the first puff of white smoke from the south.
And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has been trying to get rid of this room-temperature mess since the day she got into office, will try to look pleased while grinding her back molars over the fact that she is stuck with it for another 12 months.
And so it shall be, until the Raiders get their new stadium – as the very junior partner to Kroenke in Los Angeles, as the new Chargers in San Diego (powder blue, black and silver – get used to it), Las Vegas (if Sheldon Adelson is willing to front the money and eventually buy Davis out) or Bandar Seri Begawan (if the Sultan of Brunei wants a team and has Jerry Jones’ private cell).
So there you have it – confirmation of what we have known for weeks and surmised as fact for months. The Raiders can still play in the Coliseum. The only issue still outstanding is determining who will be the least pleased by Thursday’s developments while smiling.