HOUSTON – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t a fan of relocation talk. It’s hard to fault his opinion. There’s no easy answer and no easy way out. He wouldn’t want to upset East Bay fans by saying a move is acceptable and wouldn’t want to upset boss Mark Davis by suggesting that a possible move to Los Angeles is a bad idea.
Del Rio is from Hayward and grew up rooting for the Oakland Raiders, so he obviously wants to stay put. He went to USC and would be fine in the country’s second largest media market.
“I’m here to coach the football team,” Del Rio said last week at his postseason press conference. “I’ll leave the people that are in charge of making those decisions and that kind of decision. I’ll leave that to them. I don’t really have anything to add to the story.”
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Davis certainly will. He leads a Raiders contingent to a special NFL owners meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston where one or, more likely, two teams will be approved for relocation to Los Angeles.
Davis and San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos have partnered on a stadium proposal in Carson. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is pushing a competing project in Inglewood. Owners could vote to approve either project or come to a negotiated settlement that combines different teams in one of the various sites. The outcome remains uncertain, though there is a realistic possibility that the Raiders have played their last game in Oakland.
It seems extremely likely the Chargers are headed to L.A., joined by either the Rams or Raiders.
Players are learning information like the average fan, through media reports following a months-long L.A. saga with several twists, turns and a whole lot of posturing. They avoid discussing it much in the press, but it’s something that weighed on players when choosing the Raiders in free agency.
“I asked the question before I signed here, to see if we’re going to move or not,” said defensive tackle Dan Williams, who joined the Raiders last offseason. “The response I got is that we want to be here and they want to be here in Oakland, so I was like, ‘Alright, cool.’ But in the end, I’m pretty much out of the loop like you guys. When I hear whatever you guys report, that’s when I’ll find out.”
Players seem ready to play wherever kickoff comes, but are definitely curious about where they end up. I’ve been asked a few times about the latest L.A. prospects, but players are generally locked into in-season game prep.
These players have formed a solid connection with a Bay Area fan base that has supported them through bad times.
“These fans have always been great to me,” running back Latavius Murray said. “I was drafted as an Oakland Raider, and I’d like to stay here. We just have to wait and see what happens next."
The possibility of relocation has become more of a focal point early this offseason, with a decision looming.
“We’ll all find out probably at the same time. We won’t get any inside information; we definitely don’t have any right now,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “The thing that matters is no matter what (city) is in front of it, we’re always the Raiders. No matter what city is put in front of that, we love Oakland. This is where I have played, so I love Oakland. I love our fans here. I know that Raider Nation is everywhere. It doesn’t matter what’s put in front, we’re always the Raiders.”