59-14. You see that kind of score in the NFL about once every five years. The Raiders scored more times in Colorado than Charlie Sheen at the Aspen Film Festival. Two months ago, Oakland played a cruel trick on their fans by giving them hope when they destroyed the Broncos. If possible, after losing at home, 59-14, things have gotten worse for Denver. They’re 1-5 in the six games played since that drubbing. The coach got canned. They lost to the equally pathetic Cardinals, 43-13, this past Sunday. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
And yet, unless the Raiders win on Sunday, the season for them will be just as disappointing–maybe more so. When a team stinks, expectations subside. The Raiders haven’t had expectations since John Madden was busting through walls, selling Lite Beer. You remember…Tastes Great; Less Filling? Man, I’m old. But I digress. “And another thing… “
Madden was long gone from the Raiders sidelines by then, but the team still expected to do well most every year–Jay Schroeder, Todd Marinovich, and Jeff Hostetler notwithstanding. It’s been almost 28 years since Marcus Allen weaved through a Redskins secondary for an iconic Super Bowl touchdown in a Raiders 38-9 win. They’ve witnessed the 49ers era, the Cowboys era, and the Patriots era, and along the way committed plenty of their own “eras.” Three different NFL dynasties since the Raiders were last champions.
This year, they’re not a championship football team. Not even close. But when you beat a division rival, on their field, 59-14, you get people’s attention. You give your fans hope. Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, in Shawshank Redemption knows what ‘hope’ can do. “Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
You think this Raiders team hasn’t driven its fans insane? I know if you look into the crowd it’s hard to tell, ‘cause they’ve dressed like that for years, but trust me, whatever screws they had left are now gone. And the ones that aren’t certifiable belong behind bars with Andy Dufresne.
If the Raiders win on Sunday against Denver, they’ll be 7-7. It’ll be the first time since 2002—when they went to the Super Bowl for the last time—that they’ve won that many games. It will also keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
But the alternative is this: If they lose, they finish at home vs. Peyton Manning and the Colts, and at Kansas City. In other words, if they don’t beat Denver, they could finish the season 6-10, and extend their NFL record of losing seasons with double-digit losses to eight.
Yes, they could win on Sunday, and still have a shot at the division, or lose and be heading towards extending their mark for futility. How’s that for crazy-making? I say, they take the Shawshank approach, but instead of a few pebbles at a time behind the Raquel Welch poster, you just have John Madden bust through the damn wall and get it over with.
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”