For perhaps the final time, the Raiders gave Oakland a reason to smile


Fans may have been protesting the team on Monday, but the Raiders gave Oakland one final memory.

Like a lover telling you to remember the good times before jetting, the Raiders gave fans in Oakland something to cheer about one last time.

Amid the controversy surrounding the team’s move to Las Vegas — which includes a lawsuit that may force the team out of town a year early — fans in Oakland watched the Raiders win what could be their last game ever in the city. Making things sweeter, it came against the Denver Broncos and was filled with its share of fantastic moments.

Dwayne Harris returned a punt 99-yards for a touchdown, which electrified a crowd that came to the stadium ready to weaponize its rage. While it was just one moment, one that doesn’t quite rank up there with ‘Ghost to the Post’ or ‘The Holy Roller’, Raiders fans united in a crescendo of chaos as the stadium erupted with joy as a miracle play developed before their eyes.

Marshawn Lynch wasn’t able to play in the game but lit the AL Davis torch during a pregame ceremony that saw fans put aside their angst to cheers on a local legend. Derek Carr circled the stadium postgame to high-five fans who stayed beyond the final gun to soak in as much football in Oakland as possible.

For most of the game, and for perhaps the first time this year, Jon Gruden’s team dominated. The final score wasn’t a shutout, despite the Raiders leading most of the game in such fashion, it was the first win of the year that seemed easy for Oakland.

Er, the Raiders. It’s going to be hard getting used to directly identifying the team with the city after Monday night.

The lawsuit filed by the city of Oakland is to try and keep such a thing from happening. There will be a franchise moving to Las Vegas in 2020, but it might be the one that has to leave all Raiders branding behind. If the city wins, the Raiders brand would remain behind while Mark Davis would be forced to rebrand his Las Vegas team. Because of the suit, the team has no home in 2019 since the Raiders refuse to play games in the city while it’s being sued.

That’s all legal mumbo-jumbo — as significant as it may be — for a later date. For now, Christmas Eve and the Raiders possibly closing out their time in the city by giving fans something to smile about it all that matters. The smile may not stay on anyone’s face for long, but dammit if it wasn’t there for even a fleeting moment.

For perhaps the final time, the Raiders gave Oakland a reason to smile.

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