The collective cries of Raider Nation have fallen on deaf ears.
Media criticism and expert analysis has been ignored or sloughed off as "hating."
Ridicule from fans of other teams, constant cries from NFL fans who are tired of seeing a storied franchise sink deeper and deeper, and valid points regarding franchise dysfunction and anarchy are swept under the rug quicker than the leavings of a fat doobie.
Somehow, some way, most of the "players" that collect a check for the Oakland Raiders have managed to push all these distractions aside and do what's really important: spend money and soak in their fame.
With nobody within the organization willing to hold players accountable for not showing up and working hard, why would they? This team has denigrated into a vacation spot, a place with nice weather where you can get a nice payday without doing a whole lot.
The Oakland Raiders are the government job of the NFL.
Antonio Pierce, a well-respected linebacker for the New York Giants, basically stated as much in a recent quote. He was utterly amazed that despite the Giants' dominance of the Raiders offense, nobody on the Raiders' side of the ball seemed to care.
Nobody was getting fired up; nobody was getting upset with their poor play. They simply took a sack or lost a fumble, picked themselves up quietly and slunk back to the sidelines. As a Raider fan, reading this made me want to scream.
Now, we in the Raider Nation have long been frustrated with the mail-in jobs of our players. For some reason, people who play for the Raiders lately lack pride, discipline, and effort; what is worse, though, is that they are allowed to lack these qualities and still get paid handsomely. And still retain a roster spot.
If you were to listen to coach Tom Cable, this team is still in Super Bowl contention. The level of dysfunction and denial being exhibited by the franchise right now has reached laughable proportions.
Regardless of their recent performances, and of opinions to the contrary, the Oakland Raiders are still a team of professional football players that have individual pride. Getting called out by your fans, the media, critics, etc. may not carry that much weight, as that is just the life of a professional athlete.
However, getting called out for a lack of professionalism and effort by one of your opponents, after they've already waxed your tail? Well, if that doesn't light a fire under these guys, then nothing is going to.
You see a lot of individual sports involve head games and trash talking. Heck, team sports do as well. But when is the last time you heard an opposing player describe a regular season game as feeling like "a scrimmage"? In team sports, it's taboo to call the other team out for a lack of heart and passion. That's supposed to be an in-house duty, preferably belonging to the head coach.
But since anyone who plays for the Oakland Raiders can do whatever the hell they want and still get paid and praised by the owner and coaching staff, I guess Pierce felt he had to say something. I guess a guy who plays on a championship-caliber team who knows what it takes to win felt the need to call out his peers.
Perhaps he feels sorry for them. Perhaps he's jealous. More likely he's embarrassed and ashamed for them, and curious as to why they don't feel the same way.
I'm curious, too. Why is it that a linebacker on an opposing team seems to care more about the effort put forth by the Raiders than anyone involved with the franchise?
I can see this going one of two ways: either the Raiders will be stung by one of their peers calling them out in public for a lack of effort and heart, or they'll laugh it off and buy some more stamps.
If this team does turn things around, and soon, then we have to give credit where it is due. Antonio Pierce's comments could serve to bring this team together or make the rift larger.
I hope it's the former, but I can see the latter. There are myriad negative distractions around this team, and we need something to rally around. These comments are the perfect rallying cry for a lost and drifting franchise in danger of falling further than ever before.
There had better be 53 pissed off guys right now. I hope that every one of them feels ashamed, embarrassed, and downright humbled by what Pierce said about them. When someone who has no ulterior motive to call you out decides to do so, you'd better pay attention. Especially when that player has won a Super Bowl and is well respected around the league.
One thing is for sure: nothing else was working. These guys don't care. If they still don't after Pierce's comments, then I don't know how they look themselves in the eye. Pride, anyone?