Commitment to Excellence.
Does anyone really equate that phrase with the Oakland Raiders anymore? Hasn't it become more of a punchline than a mission statement?
Unfortunately, the Raiders have usurped that phrase, even if it is false advertising, making it impossible for any other team to use it.
Raiders fans continue to chant the mantra, but it rings hollow throughout the NFL and brings chuckles to other fans around the league.
Yes, there was a time when hearing John Facenda narrate "The Autumn Wind" conjured up images of the Four Raiders of the Apocalypse—Jack Tatum, Ted Hendricks, Art Shell and Ken Stabler—mocking the lamentations of their opponents. In the background would be a football stadium, perhaps in Denver or Kansas City, figuratively laid to waste by this marauding band of pirates.
Alas, it is no longer so.
Nowadays, the image is as outdated as disco and Bugle Boy jeans—items that were fashionable the last time the Raiders were relevant.
Since their last appearance in a Super Bowl, the Raiders have compiled an un-excellent 45-99 record. They have had seven head coaches in that time span (Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson and newly-hired Dennis Allen).
By comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches over the past 43 years.
The Raiders have given away first-round picks for aging players like Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer. And when they do have a high first-round pick, they miss the mark (badly) with JaMarcus Russell or overreach with Darrius Heyward-Bey
This year, the Raiders have two picks in the draft (they should be getting a couple of compensatory picks). And three of the picks they lost for 2012 were spent on two mediocre quarterbacks and an unknown commodity (Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell and Terrelle Pryor, respectively).
Despite all of the personnel and coaching missteps, the Raiders fans continue to dress in full regalia and act like the franchise is still feared and envied around the league.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Raiderettes are perhaps the only thing in the entire organization coveted around the league.
Yes, the autumn wind may still be a raider, but it no longer blows a chill of feared excellence—just a toe-curling stench.