Six years of losing seasons has exacted a toll on long-time Raiders' fans, erupting into a civil war among the Nation. The split is easy to observe with one half sipping the "Silver and Black Kool-Aid" doled out by Al Davis while the other "camp" wishes the old man would go find a porch to crawl under and die.
Whichever side one spiked-face-painted fan may find themselves, one fact remains clear to all and that is Davis created one of the most successful sports organizations but has seen his accomplishments falter in the past fifteen years.
The Raiders' record is 67-106 from 1994 to 2008. The "Gruden Years" of 2000-02 gave three consecutive winning seasons, 33-15. But since the Super Bowl XXXVII loss, the Raiders won a league-worst 24 games during the six full seasons following 2002. (two fewer wins than the 26 posted by the next worst team, the Detroit Lions).
Despite this evidence, those who remain loyal to Davis argue that he is trying to maintain a winner. The "rebels" point to this as a clear signal that the ol' coot has lost it.
Regardless of whether a fan is in denial or in damnation, at what point does this civil war cause permanent damage to the fan base?
Davis can make promises of restoring the past glory with an assortment of coaches, insuring Raiders fans of winning ways. He can make his big-splash FA signing in attempts to rise optimism that translates into renewing season tickets or buying more merchandise.
Whichever ways Davis breaks out the Kool-Aid and who drinks it, the hard truth remains that the Raiders Nation cannot afford to support a losing organization in hard economic times.
It is one sign of loyalty to stick by a team in down-times (a six-season downer) but how far can loyalty go when someone has to finally decide to support a losing franchise and go without groceries for a week or two.
As Raiders fans, all can agree to disagree in how Davis handles his team. On Sundays, all will equally cheer for a victorious outcome despite the odds and disadvantages.
It's what long-time fans do.
But as fans, we have to raise the question about Al, and that is, apart from the obvious financial input, does Davis really care about the fans?
Perhaps, a majority answer will end this civil war.
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