It's Complicated: Does the Sports Media Truly Hate the NFL's Oakland Raiders?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJune 18, 2010


(This article is a detour from the typical discourse in sports writing, but I will appreciate any thorough reading and discussion.)

Over the past two years, I have written a number of articles that questioned the motivations of the sports media, especially its coverage of the Oakland Raiders, because I was discontent with the line of questions in the wake of the Spygate scandal with the New England Patriots.

I waited and waited and waited for all the facts to come to light, because I gave the benefit of the doubt that maybe, just maybe, new revelations would arise.

Yet, no one asked the question that I wanted answered.

If the Patriots stole signals during games in the 2001-2002 postseason on the road in Pittsburgh and on the road in the Super Bowl, why then should be believe that the Patriots would not steal signals on their turf in Foxboro against the Raiders in the same postseason?

That postseason of course included the infamous Tuck Rule Game.


Sins of our Patriots

In retrospect, I must wonder if the sports media was complicit in the cover-up of New England's dirty deeds. 

For instance, the insistence by some in the sports media (ex, Tony Kornheiser) that Spygate would only matter if one could identify a single pivotal play that would detrimentally impugn the success of the Patriots, begs the question (in my mind) as to whether the sports media knew the truth. 

Yet, the desire was to create enough misdirection that eventually people would be exasperated by the story all together.

I have since called the Patriots Super Bowl win that year The Super Bowl Hustle, because (in my view) the Patriots would intentionally keep it close in order to see the opponent's arsenal of plays before "magical" drives for touchdowns. 

Aside from the two drives in regulation for a TD and FG by New England in the Tuck Rule Game, the Patriots had been outplayed.

In a previous article, I also defended by right to see religious themes in sports. I however, do not view sports through the prism of good vs. evil, but rather, the personal determination to continue getting-up after being beaten down. 

At times, the motive to do so can require some self-righteousness, yet all that really matters is whether you commit to being undefeated. Thus, the idea that people have had their resolve eviscerated by deceptions is abhorrent.


Seed Stories

Stories with big questions such as Spygate are quashed best not by truth, but by the attrition of the people's willingness to care and continue listening, gathering information, and asking questions. 

The best way to sow seeds of doubt is by sowing seed stories that create false narratives, which only serve to disillusion the opposition and embolden the defense.

The Boston Herald in fact admitted to the fabrication of the story about the Patriots taping the pre-Super Bowl walk-through by the St. Louis Rams.

Why exactly would a Boston paper fabricate such a story about the hometown team, unless it had a good reason to do so? 

The entire seed story served to be was a red herring that "convinced" people that Spygate was much ado about nothing, when in fact the sports media had (at best) neglected obvious big questions.

The fact that no one even asked the question insinuated a plethora of problems. 

A) The sports media is incompetent;

B) the sports media does not care because fantasy and self-indulgent mediocrity (not truth) is what tickles the attention of sports fans;

C) the sports media is grossly biased; or

D) the sports media wantonly engages in propaganda for financial and social benefit.



Obviously, for a Raider fan to raise questions about cheating in sports is looked upon as laughable not only by fans but also a sports media that has long labeled the Raiders as cheaters, only for they themselves to defend cheating on the grounds that, 'everybody does it.'

The Raiders never directly violated the rules with stickum, whereas, the Patriots did violate the rules by stealing signals. Cheating by definition involves fraud by either deceit or the violation of rules. 

Stickum deceived no one when Lester Hayes used it en route to the award for Defensive Player of the Year in 1980 and the humiliation of the favored Chargers in the AFC Championship game that year.

That is because Raiders Hall of Fame wideout Fred Biletnikoff had used stickum for years, which included the year that he earned the award for MVP of the Super Bowl. 

Moreover, stickum did not violate the rules until after the fact when the NFL wrote the Lester Hayes rule that banned stickum. 

Thus, by definition, no fraud took place because of the blatant incongruity that the NFL had ignored the use of stickum by Biletnikoff.

Both Hayes and Biletnikoff were covered in stickum while using it.


In Defense of the Indefensible

Whether the incongruity resulted from racial bias, I do not really know. Regardless of that, I do know that in effect, it dispels the notion that the Raiders truly cheated, even if the Raiders would enable the public perception that the Raiders were outlaws, because it was lucrative to do so.

In defense of the sports media, Al Davis rarely denies anything said about him or the Raiders, because ultimately, winning is the proof in the pudding.

Thus, I can imagine that it is tempting to muckrake against someone that does not care.

The Raiders would use the word "cheating" poetically, because the Raiders would not directly violate rules, but merely thought outside the box of perceptions, such as how hard you could legally hit an opposing player, a practice that has been hypocritically decried as abhorrent by fans and media alike.

Bill Currie of KDKA in Pittsburgh once claimed that, "the public perception of Mr. Al Davis paints the man as an avaricious creep, having no ethics, and also who is a heretic, who has possibly with Satanic help, publicly expressed doubt as to the divine origin of all the words uttered by Mr. Pete Rozelle."


I think I now understand why a Pittsburgh native such as Jay Mariotti would have such as deeply seated and visceral bias against the Raiders. He, as a journalist, has clearly bought into the delusional myths about Al Davis.

Amongst that, there is ample evidence to suggest that hatred of the Raiders originated in racial bias against an egalitarian Jew that had the *gall* to treat minorities with respect, and has since permutated into innocuous trash talking about Al Davis being, "crazy," resulting from the blunders of his quixotic decision-making. 

Whether that bias is the result of socially and historically inculcated biases against Jews, especially from Christians, or if the sports media merely enabled that bias for profit, I cannot say with certainty. 

Though, I do not believe that all criticism of the Raiders and Al Davis is malicious (some of it is just sports banter), the presence of that racial bias seems undeniable amongst some.

Yet, rather than quickly believe, "that's not me," try a little introspection before doing so.

The reason being that Currie's use of words like, "heretic" and "Satanic," intersects with the historically generic biases against Jewish people. 

William Shakespeare even wrote The Merchant of Venice from generic biases against Jews, while the conflicts of that play, particularly between Antonio and Shylock, still ring true amongst Jewish people.

While I, a self-described evangelical Christian, sits here to play the, "devil's advocate."

Now that is irony.

Irony : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; or a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning (


Who's Cheatin' Who?

Regardless of whether the NFL destroyed a Spygate tape of the Tuck Rule Game to protect the integrity of not only the NFL, but also its image in the long-running legal battles over antitrust with Raiders owner Al Davis.

I no longer trusted the sports media to ask big questions. Instead, I started believing that ESPN and the like, is just Sports Theater of pointless spin and mindless yammering of, "Who ya got?"

Which one of them gives a damn is what I have wanted to know. At times, the cacophony from the sports media sounds like nothing more than the maelstrom of zoo animals.

I do not feel any true animosity towards the people at ESPN or media in general, but I have merely vented my caustic frustration with the psychological torture of being force-fed bullcrap. 

At times, I have been too cavalier in doing so, and even I must admit to having made mistakes. But what would you expect? 

The reason that I do not feel any personal animosity, because what's puzzling me is the nature of their game, but they did not create it.

Spygate also made it quite apparent to me that the sports media was not a watchdog against possible corruption, but merely posers as sentinels of integrity.

In the bigger picture, *they* continue to wonder why many newspapers have gone bankrupt.  If the newspapers had actually engaged in hard-hitting journalism that enlightened people or impugned the status quo, rather than just create years of malaise and submission, I doubt that the lure of blogosphere would have fascinated people, or callous refuge of social-networks like Facebook.

Seemingly, people have broken free of society by turning on, tuning in, and dropping out.

After years of feeling cheated by the media, people went and cheated the media.  Meanwhile, the mainstream media had more concern with their pocket books than they were with exposing the problems in the financial market that have been fomenting for years.

With that said, people that felt cheated by the media, often felt as such in fear that the mainstream media was assaulting the status quo.

As the title of this article says, it's complicated.

Some might wonder why I would see an intersection between lightweight sports journalism and political or business news. 

That is simple. If the media is unwilling to impugn the status quo in something relatively tame like pro-sports, why should I expect the same from important news?

Like anything, no one wants to take ownership of his or her role in a catastrophe.  Nowadays, professional journalists continue to whine hypocritically that news is not as lucrative as it once was, because stories are free on the Internet. 

As long as the media continues its nihilistic approach to the truth, the majority of people will not pay to read it or hear it.



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